We have all heard about Hurricane Maria; it destroyed everything in its path, including homes, schools, and towns. It tore families apart, leaving some people left with nothing. It is very difficult to keep your spirits high in such a disastrous and tragic time. Let me introduce you to a 13-year-old runner that kept a positive attitude despite watching the Hurricane Maria disaster around him. 


Miguel Angel Pantojas De Jesus is a 13-year-old runner from Puerto Rico. He started running when he was 7 years old, and has been an active runner ever since. The hurricane became a huge obstacle in his running career because he had to endure the effects of Hurricane Maria and all that it caused. It flooded his home, destroyed his school, and ruined the track that he practiced on. His entire family was evacuated from their home and he was unable to run and do what he loved most.


Through everything, Miguel remained positive and tried to keep his spirits high. “My family and my positive mind helped me get through my challenges...and keep me motivated,” says Miguel. His goal is to succeed as a runner, no matter what obstacles he will have to face.



Every extra moment Miguel gets, he is practicing. Only one week after the hurricanes, he started running again. Although there was debris from the hurricane, he didn’t let that get in his way. His determination to always improve helps him become a better runner each day.


Miguel wants to continue running in the future too. His most recent goal is to win the steeplechase, at the AAU Junior Olympics. He knows that he needs to work hard, by putting in time, training, and dedication to get to this goal. He also has his mind set on getting to the Olympics one day. This is a huge goal, but he loves running and believes that he can get there.



Next week, Miguel will be flying to Oregon for the Youth Runner Elite Middle School Camp. He has been preparing for this camp every week. Running is his true passion, and he is very excited that he gets to partake in this camp.


Going through challenges or hardships can make you a better runner. Miguel likes to face his challenges head on; he is strong throughout different obstacles, and remains positive after various defeats. “My past challenges and defeats have made me a better runner… I have learned different tactics and skills,” says Miguel.

Miguel’s last piece of advice to other runners is to have fun and enjoy running.