Brandi Cortez: Running to Inspire Others

By Sara Jane Richter

Generally, we believe that runners are born with a natural ability, talent, and stamina that makes them excel on the track, but Brandi Cortez disproves that theory. In her case, runners are made via hard work, dedication, and decisiveness, which sums up Cortez’s running life.
Born in Altus, Oklahoma, but raised in Kingfisher, Cortez makes her living as a contract speech pathologist who works with rural school districts in the state. She loves her job of 20 years. She has three children: two sons and a daughter; three bonus children; and three grandchildren, with one slated to be born this month. Her husband, Adam Cortez, works as an employee of Walmart.
She wasn’t always a runner or even very much interested in the activity;
however, her mid-thirties arrived, and she wanted a change and a challenge. She downloaded an internet application called ”Couch to 5K.” Instructions indicated that the program would take eight weeks to complete, and she did not fail to complete the course of study. Soon after the app’s completion, she competed in her first 5K—just as the app promised. Since initially completing the app’s protocol, she has completed it several times as a refresher course for training tips and encouragement. 
In April 2015, Brandi ran a relay leg for a friend’s team at the Oklahoma City
Memorial Marathon Relay Run. She did well and was determined to continue to encourage herself, so she ran a half marathon in October 2015. In the following spring, she ran the complete Oklahoma City Memorial Marathon.  After her 4th full marathon, she hired a running coach to help improve her performance.  Based on the coach’s assessment, some changes were made.  Brandi transformed into a more successful long-distance runner and hasn’t stopped running since.  In all, she has competed in 13 marathons and numerous half marathons, including the New York City Marathon, the Chicago Marathon, the Boston Marathon, and the 3 US World Major marathons.
The first time she qualified for the Boston Marathon came in 2020, but of course, Covid canceled that year’s event. This year, she ran the Boston race (qualifying
because of her time finishing the 2022 Chicago Marathon race). She completed the Boston run at 4:02. When she recalled her Boston experience, her voice lit up when she said that Boston was a wonderful experience. Bostonians made all runners feel comfortable and special.
Cortez believes that her running inspires others to become active and
incorporate fitness and well-being into their lives. Her training regimen includes keeping a strict 16-week window of training before she lines up at the marathon start line. She appreciates a very supportive family and the Kingfisher community for their kindness and well wishes. She realizes that her running prowess—and the development of it—may inspire others to compete too. She believes that running has allowed her to devote time and effort to her own life and health. Brandi says that women should take the time to accomplish something for themselves. Usually, women give of themselves to help others, but they too deserve special “me” time to set their minds, hearts, body, and spirit on the right plane.
She teaches a 5k running class yearly for $50; however, if her
students attend class and finish the seminar, she refunds their money. Her students often hesitate to take her instruction as they “can’t even run a mile.” However, Brandi takes a different approach; prospective runners should not run right off the bat for mileage but for minutes. She suggests that people run for a minute or two and increase that time daily. She warns that budding runners should not bite off more than they can chew; in addition, they should practice patience and realize that all training pays off in the end. By the time that hallowed 8-week preparation time ends, people are amazed by what they can do—and the fact that they have become runners.
For herself, Brandi trains by running five days a week for that four-month prep
time during which she will run approximately 40-45 miles each week, causing her to run, on average, 650 miles during the run-up to the race. She’ll buy a new pair of running shoes usually before each marathon, so she’ll get four pairs yearly.
In the future, Brandi wants to run the three important marathons outside the
US—Tokyo, Berlin, and London—thereby completing running the hallowed six major marathons, known as the Abbott World Marathon Majors. She also has an interest in the US/Canadian marathon; crossing an international border during a race would add something different to the required 26.219 miles. She may start to take it easy after running these races but don’t hold her to it. This woman started running to do herself good and to inspire others, and she is not going to quit that soon. Brandi Cortez is an inspiring lady and is always on the run.