Each January, Vermont Sports Magazine publishes the profiles of 10 Vermont athletes who have made our state proud in the past year. Even with race schedules cut short, travel curtailed and being isolated from training partners, these athletes pushed through the year of Covid-19 and showed how you can stay motivated, stay fit and stay on top of the game. Here’s our annual salute to 10 athletes Vermont should be proud of. See a full list of 2020‘s 10 Athletes of the Year in alphabetical order as well as links to previous years’ honorees.
Mirna Valerio’s Other Big Win
Mirna Valerio will be the first to tell you that she doesn’t have a huge case of trophies at home and may not have ever won a big race. But she has certainly competed in them. At 45, Mirna has done 11 marathons and 14 ultramarathons, including the grueling, 120-mile TransRockies. She’s made the cover of Runner’s World and in 2018 was named a National Geographic Adventurer of the Year. She has sponsors such as LL Bean, Leki, Merrell, Hydro Flask and others. She has 117,000 followers on Instagram.
In 2019 she moved from Brooklyn, N.Y. to Montpelier, Vt. ““When I made the turn off Memorial Drive and drove down Main Street, I saw two banners,” she told Vermont Sports in August 2020 for a cover story, The New Face of Fitness, “The New Face of Fitness. “One was a Black Lives Matter banner, the other was a Pride flag. I thought “Okayyyy. I can live here. This isn’t Georgia. ” (Before Brooklyn, she had been teaching at a school in Georgia.
Mirna competed in the Los Angeles marathon and three other races in 2020 before Covid-19 canceled events. With a knee injury to nurse, Mirna began to bike, Nordic ski and recently took up alpine skiing.
If the hallmark of a great athlete is their ability to inspire others, Mirna, a.k.a. The Mirnavator, is at the top of the podium. The author of the “Fat Girl Running” blog, she has helped redefine what a runner looks like for new generations. And as a Black athlete, she’s fought hard for racial equity.
This year, Mirna replaced her race schedule with a full calendar of Zoom and socially-distanced in-person meetings as she helped businesses ranging from Darn Tough to Merrell work to combat racism in the aftermath of the Black Lives Matter movement. She has helped others worldwide, understand what contributes to racial inequity and exclusion and what they could do to change. She is, truly, one of Vermont’s most valuable Athletes of the Year.
See a full list of 2020‘s 10 Athletes of the Year in alphabetical order as well as links to previous years’ honorees.