Maria Solis didn't see runners who looked like her at races – so she set out to change that.
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Maria Solis, founder of Latinos Run
Credit: Courtesy of Maria Solis/ Mng Wei Tng/EyeEm/Getty

I lived four blocks from Central Park, and I would see the New York City Marathon there every year. A friend mentioned that if you run nine New York Road Runners races and volunteer at another, you get an entry in the marathon. I could barely finish a 5K, but it was my aha moment: I would aim for that.

Looking around at those starting lines, I questioned why more Latinos like me weren’t at these races. We all have running shoes, so why the huge gap? I typed “Latinosrun” into GoDaddy, and nothing popped up. I bought the site name and thought, Maybe I’ll do something with it. I knew from my own experience with running that Latinos Run had the potential to influence communities across the country. I just needed to start it.

A few years later after a PR job gone bad, I left my career in fashion and actually did.

Today, Latinos Run is a running platform for more than 25,000 runners, ranging from newbies to elite athletes. We focus on highlighting a community that's often overlooked in the health and fitness world, all with the goal of inspiring other runners and athletes of color to advocate for change. (Related: 8 Fitness Pros Making the Workout World More Inclusive — and Why That's Really Important)

When I travel to promote Latinos Run, I try to find races that have a good atmosphere. I did a polar bear race in Indiana and an undies run in Ohio on the same day during a blizzard. I couldn’t feel my fingers, but I had so much fun. And by the way, I did end up reaching my goal of running a New York City Marathon. After that first one, I was crying — not just because I did it, but more because my phone battery died and I couldn’t capture my finish line moment.

Shape Magazine, November 2020 issue