SOUTH AMERICAPoly Mart?nez, 47
Hometown: Bogota, Columbia
Career: Strategic Communications Advisor and Journalist
Distance logged per week: 64 kilometers (38 miles)
Favorite shoe brand? Saucony for the road, Salomon for the trail.
Favorite fuel? I drink a cup of coffee with a dash of milk and eat a small bite of fruit before I run. For long runs, I'll bring along an energy gel.
Ideal running route? I like to run outdoors and do most of my running on city streets and local parks.
Upcoming race? The Chicago Marathon.
Post-race ritual? I go to brunch with my sons, Pedro and Lo?renzo, and my parents and friends. Sometimes I take a swim to relax my muscles.
Go-to cross-training? Spinning classes, swimming and yoga. Twice a week I do Pilates as well. I also lift weights, but I don't like it very much.
Poly had her eldest son in mind when she started running. She wanted to teach him that challenging yourself was important, so she signed up for a local Nike 10K after seeing an advertisement in the Sunday paper. Not only did Poly finish the race, she crossed the line with a faster time than expected. "I discovered how great it feels to run, both for the body and the mind," she says. "From then on, I was hooked."
Now Poly trains with a coach and belongs to a team of more than 70 members. While running for fitness has been on the radar in Colombia for a while, Poly says serious training and racing (like she does with her team) is a new trend.
AFRICAHilda Ogada, 32
Hometown: Nairobi, Kenya
Time logged per week: Three hours
Favorite shoe brand? New Balance.
Post-race ritual? I go for a whole body massage to relax my tense muscles.
Must-have apparel? My tracksuit. I need it to keep warm because I run in the evening when the temperature drops.
Running partners? My colleagues from work.
Ideal running route? The city streets are crowded, so I prefer to go to the parks in Nairobi where there are trails and big sections of grassy fields to run through.
Go-to cross-training? Hiking, biking and stretching.
Hilda took up running in her late 20s to stay fit. She picked running as her workout of choice because of its reputation for building strength and endurance, but more importantly, she explains, "because it's fun!"
For the past three years Hilda has participated in the Standard Chartered Nairobi Marathon's Run for Sight, a race held every fall to raise funds and awareness for cataracts, glaucoma and other eye diseases in Africa. She's raced both the 10K and the 21K distances in different years. "I'm not in it to win it," she says. "I just love the idea of doing something good for others through my running."
THE MIDDLE EASTNajwa Kandil, 27
Hometown: Amman, Jordan
Distance logged per week: 20 kilometers (12 miles)
Favorite shoe? Nike LunarGlide.
Ideal running route? I like the quiet roads in my neighborhood. While I prefer outdoor runs, I log a lot of miles on the treadmill due to weather or time constraints.
Go-to cross-training? Strength and circuit training at the gym.
Favorite race? The LG Dead Sea Half Marathon in Jordan. It's a good distance to challenge myself, and the race finishes at the lowest point on earth.
Post-race ritual? The shower afterwards is just unbelievable, and of course going for a meal with family and friends.
Favorite fuel? I eat a lot of nuts, cashews specifically. If I go for a long run, I'll usually make myself a smoothie afterwards with fruit, yogurt and honey.
Born in Egypt, Najwa Kandil moved to Jordan as a child. She has now lived in the country for 20 years but attended university abroad. Najwa was studying in the United States when she first took up running. Her roommate was training for a 15K race and invited Najwa to come along on a short run. "I liked it so much, I decided to train for a 5K at the same event," she remembers.
At the race-day registration table, Najwa panicked over running alone and signed up for the full 15K with her roommate instead. "It was tough—but I finished. The sense of accomplishment that I got was enough to keep me running," she says.