A ‘Speedcuber’ Gives Back

Philip Espinoza, ’11, can not only solve a Rubik’s Cube faster than most, he can do it while running a marathon. Eight hundred thirty-nine times in one race, to be exact.

In November, Espinoza challenged and broke the Guinness World Record for the most Rubik’s Cubes solved while running a marathon, a staggering 839 completed cubes. And while he is an avid runner and certified “speedcuber”—he was once ranked sixth fastest in the world—Espinoza did it all with a mind to give back to the program that first gave to him.

A member of the Kumeyaay-Mesa Grande Band of Mission Indians, Espinoza attended the American Indian Recruitment (AIR) Program, established to promote higher education and academic success in the Native American community. Espinoza raised over $1,000 leading up the marathon, the majority going to AIR.

“AIR allowed me to make my first visit to a college campus at the age of 17 and it continues to make college a possibility for other Native youth who would otherwise be denied the opportunity,” says Espinoza.

While at UC San Diego, Espinoza was the founder and president of the university’s Rubik’s Cube Club, and could solve the puzzle in less than eight seconds. In 2013, he was cheered on during a Rubik’s Cube demonstration at the Nike for Natives conference, held at the athletic company’s headquarters in Oregon.

That goodwill followed him to November’s marathon, where the Native American outreach coordinator ran alongside a golf cart as a support team caught completed cubes in a net, re-scrambled them, and handed them back while he powered through the course. Espinoza easily beat the old record of 175 completed puzzles, getting cheers from race watchers and, as if that wasn’t enough, even other runners.