Latinos Run: Interview with Maria Solis Belizaire

As we celebrate Hispanic Heritage Month, we are honored to have the opportunity to interview Maria Solis Belizaire, the founder of Latinos Run.

Latinos Run is a community of runners that aims to inspire, motivate, and empower Latinos to lead a healthy lifestyle through running. Maria Solis Belizaire is a passionate runner and advocate for diversity and inclusion in the running community. In this interview, we will learn more about her journey, her vision for Latinos Run, and her advice for aspiring runners. Join us as we celebrate Hispanic Heritage Month and learn from the inspiring story of Maria Solis Belizaire.

Latinos Run

About Maria Solis Belizaire

Maria Solis Belizaire is the founder of Latinos Run and Latinas Run, two running organizations that aim to promote health and wellness within the Latino community. Her journey into the world of running and fitness began with a deep-seated passion for promoting health and wellness within the Latino community. Growing up, she was actively involved in athletics, but it was during her teenage years, marked by her mother's incarceration, that running became her refuge. Joining her high school's track team was her way of navigating adversity. Over time, she embraced the sport more deeply, participating in local fun runs and connecting with fellow runners, including an Ultra Marathoner who inspired her to aim for the NYC Marathon. This ignited a life-changing connection with running, and its impact became even more significant as she witnessed the toll of health issues, including cancer, obesity, and heart disease, on her loved ones. In 2016, driven by a lack of running groups tailored to the Latino community and in honor of her late mother, she founded Latinos Run. The initiative blossomed, giving rise to Latinas Run, a platform focused on empowering Latina women. Beyond running, she actively travels across the United States, meeting fellow runners and advocating for the health and well-being of Latinos. Through it all, she remains a dedicated speaker, raising the voices of underserved communities and championing the cause of better health for all.

Maria Solis Belizaire

What Are Your Goals for the Latinos Run Organization?

“My main goal for the organization is to support Latinos and create visibility for them within the running space. I want to foster a strong and inclusive community where Latinos feel empowered to prioritize their health through running. By providing resources, inspiration, and a sense of belonging, I aim to break down barriers and promote a healthier lifestyle while showcasing the diversity and strength of our community in the running world.”

What Do You Enjoy Most About Leading Latinos Run?

“What I enjoy most about leading Latinos Run is the strong sense of community it fosters. Building lifelong friendships and witnessing the transformative journey of our members brings me immense joy and fulfillment.”

How Do You Work to Promote Physical and Mental Health within the Latino Community Through Your Platform? 

“We work to promote physical and mental health within the Latino Community by offering a range of initiatives. Through accessible resources, motivational narratives, and a supportive community, we provide training plans, wellness guidance, and engaging content that encourages active lifestyles. By sharing success stories and facilitating connections, our platform creates an environment where individuals can prioritize their well-being while feeling empowered and connected.”

How Do You Engage with Local Communities to Promote Running and Fitness Among Latinos?

“Engaging with local communities to promote running and fitness among Latinos is a key aspect of our mission. We organize local events, workshops, and group runs to create in-person connections and encourage participation. Through partnerships with community organizations and collaboration with local leaders, we ensure our message reaches a wider audience. Social media and online platforms also play a vital role in connecting with individuals, sharing resources, and motivating them to embrace an active lifestyle. This multi-faceted approach helps us effectively engage and empower local Latino communities to prioritize their health and well-being through running and fitness.”

How Do You Measure the Impact of Latinos Run on Communities, and What Metrics Do You Use to Elevate Success?

“Measuring the impact of Latinos Run on communities is deeply personal to me. Over the past 7 years, I've witnessed a remarkable shift — a surge in Latino participants at events and the emergence of more Latino-owned run clubs. These changes, combined with participation rates, online engagement, and the stories of transformation shared by our members, collectively reflect the positive influence we're having within the Latino community. This evolving landscape continues to inspire and validate our mission's success.”

What challenges have you faced in building a global audience for Latinos Run, and how have you overcome them?

“A significant challenge we faced in expanding the global reach of Latinos Run was convincing brands of our value. It took years of relentless work to forge partnerships with brands who understood and aligned with our mission. In the early days, it was a struggle to get brands to invest in diverse groups like ours. However, I'm heartened to share that the landscape is shifting for the better. Brands are increasingly recognizing the significance of embracing diversity, and it's truly rewarding to witness this positive change taking root. This journey reinforces the importance of our mission to empower the Latino community through running, and I'm incredibly proud of the strides we're making.”

What advice would you give to someone who is new to running and wants to get involved with Latinos Run?

“To someone new to running and eager to join Latinos Run, my advice is simple: just come out. Whether you run, jog, or even walk, our inclusive space welcomes everyone who shares in the belief and support of the strength within the Latino community. It's an open invitation to be part of a supportive and empowering journey toward better health, regardless of your background or experience level.”

How do you plan to expand and grow Latinos Run in the future, and what new initiatives or programs do you have in the works?

“Our future plan for Latinos Run involves expanding through new chapters and offering coaching certifications for our Ambassadors. This will enable us to connect with more communities and provide enhanced support and skills to our members, fostering a stronger sense of community and promoting a passion for running among our members.”

What Are Some of the Upcoming Events that Latinos Run has planned?

“We have an exciting lineup of annual events at Latinos Run. These include our Hispanic Heritage Month Run, the Justice Run, Dia de Los Muertos Run, and we're particularly thrilled about our International Women's Day Run planned for 2024. These events provide dynamic opportunities for our community to come together, celebrate our heritage, promote social justice, and empower women.”

How Can Individuals or Organizations Support Your Work and Get Involved with Latinos Run? 

“Individuals and organizations can play a crucial role in supporting and getting involved with Latinos Run. First and foremost, showing up at our events, runs, and activities is a powerful way to engage and contribute. Additionally, investing in diverse-run clubs like ours helps amplify the impact we're making within the community. Using their voice and taking action to be genuine allies by promoting diversity, equity, and inclusion goes a long way in supporting our mission. These collective efforts not only strengthen Latinos Run but also contribute to a more inclusive and empowered running community overall.”

Where Would You Recommend Our Honey Stinger Hive Members Start Promoting Physical and Mental Health Within Their Own Communities?

“For Honey Stinger Hive Members looking to promote physical and mental health in their communities, they can participate in some of the following: Lead by Example by embracing a healthy lifestyle and sharing your journey. Organize Local Activities by planning group runs or activities. Share Stories by highlighting community success stories. Empower Through Education by organizing sessions on health and wellness. Create Inclusive Spaces by ensuring welcoming environments. Encourage Accountability by establishing supportive groups and challenges.”

Latinos Run Group