“There Are So Many Different People Who Find Passion in This Sport”: Martha Garcia Seeks Greater Inclusivity in Running

She will continue pushing for stronger representation and storytelling of all runners.

Get access to everything we publish when you sign up for Outside+.

Martha Garcia got her start in fashion footwear. When she joined Deckers in 2015 and full-time at Hoka One One in 2016, it wasn’t a natural fit. “I questioned why I was working with them to be quite honest,” Garcia says. “I felt very intimidated by the running industry, and by the brand.”

A work trip to the 2017 Ironman World Championships in Kona, Hawaii, changed her perspective. “I was just like, ‘Oh my God, this is so beautiful,’” says Garcia. “There are so many different people who find passion in this sport. Look at the diversity. Look at the countries. Look at the like racial makeup, the ages. That’s where it just kind of all clicked for me.”

Garcia has played a pivotal role in finding the “unlock” to new consumers. As an immigrant and a woman of color, she knew there was a major blind spot in the industry, and that Hoka was in a position to grow.

“I’m really excited to be a part of a really diverse team who’re all passionate about challenging systemic racism and bringing the running industry along to be more inclusive to represent the makeup of runners,” says Garcia, who also serves on the newly established Running Diversity Coalition leadership team.

In her new role as global creative director for the booming footwear brand, she will continue pushing for stronger representation and storytelling of all runners. “I’ve always been someone to challenge the status quo,” Garcia says. “My parents didn’t work this hard to come to this country for me to like be quiet and then stay silent.”

This profile was first published in the Winter 2021 print issue of Women’s Running as part of “Women Who Lead: Power Women of 2021” which celebrates 25 women who are reshaping the running industry for the better. You can see the full list of honorees here.