Q & A with Maria Solis Belizaire: Founder of Latinos Run
Maria Solis Belizaire, an Afro-Latina is the founder of Latinos Run. When Maria launched Latinos Run she did her research on the health benefits of running specifically she was curious as to why more Latinos were turning to running. Aside from the obvious reason of physical health gain, she was amazed by the countless stories of mental health challenges like depression among the running group members. According to Marie, “Being a Latina runner, I have noticed significant changes personally in so many areas. From financial to physical and even mental, the benefits are countless. When I first started running I had already spent years and thousands of dollars at gyms that lead to dead ends. I was oftentimes alone and unmotivated. Running in a group was basically as cost-effective as it could get because most running clubs are completely free which allows you to ditch the gym and many times the club while getting a great workout in with an amazing group of like-minded individuals. Apart from the financial benefits, there are the physical benefits. Running is a great way to burn calories faster than most activities which helps you lose weight and keep it off. It’s also been known to help you sleep better, alleviate cramps due to menstruation, and improve your cardiovascular health.”
“Being a Latina runner, I have noticed significant changes personally in so many areas…”
What inspired you to start Latinos Run?
“When I started running I had a hard time finding groups of color. I searched social medal and on the internet and couldn’t find anything. I would ask friends to start a group for Latinos by Latinos but majority of my friends didn’t believe latinos even ran. Eventually, I decided to create a group where we can not only celebrate our culture but also our love of running.”
How has this project empowered you and communities?
“Latinos face a disproportionate rate of health issues. I believe starting this organization helps runners to connect with other like-minded individuals to focus on living a healthier life. “
What are some of the most life-changing moments that you have seen while visiting communities?
“Some of the communities I visit don’t have access to affordable health care or easier access to healthier food options. Many communities of color live in what we call a food desert. These areas have limited access to healthy food and instead, you see more fast-food restaurants. It troubles me to see this as I travel the country. On top of that, some of the biggest challenges are the lack of access to safe environments to work out. Cleaner parks would really empower people to visit them more.”
Do you feel there are a lot of discouraging beliefs in communities that may impact how people view running?
“The 1st comments I hear when I wanted to start Latinos Run was that Latinos don’t run. This idea is completely false and it puts this perception that all Latinos are unfit. The Latino community has been involved in the running community for a long time and I hope to encourage more Latinos to get involved in the sport.”
What advice do you give people to inspire them to run while you are on your journey through the Americas?
“I would tell them to just start. Go for a walk, or sign up for a race or join us for a local run. There is such a large community out there that is not only engaging but truly supportive.”
To find out more information about Maria Solis Belizaire campaign click on Latino Run.