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From boxing to running, Ysleta ISD groundskeeper finds a marathon passion

For Gonzalo Espinoza, it all started when he wanted to startGonzalo's Picture boxing. What he discovered instead was his love of running.

Running was part of the training to become a boxer for Espinoza, who has worked as an Ysleta ISD groundskeeper for nine years. As he continued his training, he saw significant improvement in his running and started thinking about doing marathons.

Three years ago, Espinoza joined Ysleta ISD’s team for the El Paso Marathon – and now, he considers it a tradition to join his fellow YISD employees and supporters for the annual race, where he proudly wears his custom “The District” shirt to vie for the top award.

“If you don't win, it's not a loss – you are just closer to the win,” said Espinoza, adding that his personal definition of victory is showing his daughters Leann and Layla that success comes after you work really hard for it.

“If you win, then the hard work has totally paid off,” he added.

The first Ysleta ISD marathon team was created in 2018 in an attempt to promote wellness and encourage employees to pursue a healthy lifestyle by participating in the 5K race, half marathon, or full marathon. Every year, all participants receive a team shirt, exercise equipment, and other wellness items.

Espinoza has placed in the top 10 at the El Paso Marathon for two of the past three years. In 2021, he won third place overall while running in frigid temperatures and snow – a drastic improvement from his 39th-place finish in 2020.

This year, he placed first in his age group and eighth overall in the El Paso race, and recently won first place at the Willie McCool Memorial marathon in Lubbock in September – all while wearing his “The District” shirt.

Espinoza says he’s proud to represent Ysleta ISD, and hopes to make his family, boss, and co-workers proud while letting others know that they can accomplish whatever they set their minds to do.

 “Everyone at Ysleta ISD has treated me very well and helped me every time I needed it,” Espinoza said. “I want to show that a groundskeeper can proudly represent The District because it has been there for me. This is how I can show my thanks.”

Espinoza will again join his district colleagues on Sunday, Feb. 12, for the 2023 El Paso Marathon. He has also qualified for a marathon in Chicago, and is considering advancing to the famed Boston and New York races once he can run a marathon in under three hours.

“I am very close to reaching that time,” he said. “That’s my goal.”

Registration for the 2023 El Paso Marathon is currently under way. All employees/supporters are encouraged to join Ysleta ISD’s “THEDISTRICT” race team at and help us win “Largest Team” prize for the sixth year in a row.