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Wendy Torres: Trail running isn't just a sport; it's a journey of discovery.

Follow Wendy Torres's incredible path from the streets of LA to the heart of the trails, where culture, friendship, and ambition meet.

By Jonathan Andrade

Wendy Torres wandered alone into a dark park at night.

Distant sounds of children’s laughter echoed from the dimly lit playground while the hopeless thuds of missed jump shots reverberated from the nearby basketball court.

Shadowy strangers stood in a semi-circle along a short chain link fence.

“Is this the run club?” Torres asked shyly under her breath.

It was the Valley Runners LA, a group of locals who meet up weekly to roam the streets of the San Fernando Valley after sundown. The Instagram algorithm floated a club run flyer into Torres’s discovery feed.

After almost a year of running solo miles around her Winnetka neighborhood, Torres saw it as a sign it was time to join a run club.

“It was meant to be,” she said of that first experience with VRLA in April 2022. “That first time taking off from the light, it felt so cool.”

Torres left that club meetup with dozens of new running friends, all of whom were about to witness a running trajectory like no other from the shy newcomer.


Not long after Torres completed her first marathon—the Los Angeles Marathon in 2023—she shifted her focus to the trails that surround the scenic San Fernando Valley.

First some local weekday routes with Tempo Training Run Club, then some awe-inspiring races organized by Daniel and Tina Weissauer and the SoCal Trail crew.

“I did the Tough Topanga, Tough Mugu and Bulldog,” Torres said. “I didn’t do the (Bulldog) 50K. I wasn’t ready yet, but I was already picking up ultra(marathon) interest.”

Eighteen months after her first run with the Valley Runners, Torres crossed the finish line of her first ultra marathon, No Name 5025 in October of 2023.

An impressive feat considering she’s still a relative newcomer to running, but she insists the trajectory isn’t complete.

The marathon goal came and went and her first ultra was a breeze. What more is Torres capable of?

“The goal this year is to do a 50-miler,” Torres said. “I hope to finish and I hope to do well.”


Running brought Torres and Patty Lopez together.

They didn’t just find a formidable training buddy. They found a lifelong friend.

“She’s been such a blessing to me in my life,” Torres said of Lopez. “We have so much in common and we’re so passionate for the sport. She’s like a big sis to me.”

While they met on the streets at run clubs, they discovered their passion together on the trails.

They’ve dubbed themselves “Latinas on Trails”, “Cabras Cabreadas” (Angry goats in Spanish) or Trail Dogs, an adaptation from their original Road Dogs roots.

Unapologetically Latinas, both teeter-totter speaking in a balanced Spanglish that is somehow equally understandable to people who only speak either English or Spanish.

They found that they share a parallel work ethic and their dreams have aligned.

“Now we’re training together for the 50-miler,” Torres said.

Torres and Lopez don’t just run for medals and post-race beers. They run for Latinas all over the globe, many of whom are victim to a machismo mindset that still plagues the world.

“We don’t see a lot of Mexican American women out in the sport, especially at some of the trail races we go to,” Torres said. “We take a lot of pride being in the outdoors and having that outdoor freedom that a lot of our sisters don’t get to do.”


Torres still remembers those early days of her running journey, a time when she knew no one at race events and before her weekly evening calendar was filled with club runs all throughout The Valley.  

She still recalls the exact moment her hubby Guillermo “Memo” Cortez said he wished she was part of the run clubs they would see sport matching t-shirts on race days. A run club atmosphere would make for safer night runs, Cortez remembers as the main reasoning.

“Be careful what you wish for,” Torres says with a laugh.

Nowadays, the entire family rolls out to three or four run clubs a week. Decked out in Fractel hats, Janji shorts and Hoka shoes, the whole clan looks the part. Running has officially taken over their lives.

The boys (JoJo, Cruz and Santee) have started their race medal collections and Memo just completed his first half marathon race, around and into the Rose Bowl in Pasadena. 

While they all get their fair share of miles, Mommy’s weekly numbers continue to climb.

It’s been a climb like no other, and it only took a few brave steps into a dark park at night to set everything in motion.

She’s gone from shy newcomer to an inspirational role model at run clubs. Once a modest middle of the pack jogger, Torres is now a speedy front-of-the-pack pacer. She’s evolved from a local neighborhood runner to an ultramarathoner, and she has a newfound perspective on life and running.

She’s on a mission with seemingly limitless potential. If there’s a ceiling, there’s no sight of it yet. The trajectory continues.


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