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Antonio Quinones Finds Community in Latinos Run

Antonio Quinones grins and extends his arms as he runs

Antonio Quinones of New York City started running to cope with grief and loss as his father’s health was failing. For Quinones, competing in obstacle course races helped him to handle this difficult time.

As he looked to progress in his new sport, Quinones discovered the group Latinos Run, based in New York City. Latinos Run is a running platform with a following that extends across the country. Quinones found the group online in 2015, when they raffled entries to a 10-mile race in the Bronx, and has stayed connected to them ever since. Before the pandemic, they gathered regularly in groups of 10 to 25 people. But for now, the group is sticking to virtual events.

Fleet Feet caught up with Quinones for a phone interview to learn more.

Fleet Feet (FF): What does the Latinos Run Community mean to you?

QUINONES: Being a part of this running community gives you hope that you can be a part of something big. I used to play basketball and baseball in high school. But later in life, in Queens, I didn’t have outlets to stay active with other people. I wanted to get back out there.

With running you get to meet people in the community with the same passion. Maria Solis, the founder of Latinos Run, was the first to welcome me into the group when I had been running by myself. With Latinos Run, I learned how to train and how to eat as a runner. I got a lot of advice from Maria, and her journey kept me interested.

FF: Why do you love running?

QUINONES: For me, it started as a coping mechanism, but now I love running because I feel free and I can be myself. In 2019, the entire year, I ran every weekend. When I'm out there, I'm happy. I can be myself. Any pressure from work, any stress I might feel, when I run, that weight is off my shoulders. I feel happier after I do a run.

FF: What running accomplishments are you most proud of?

QUINONES: I am proud of completing the New York City marathon. And I ran a 50K in August with another Latinos Run member, Carlos Taveras. We wanted to show other Latinos how far we can go if we go together. And that it’s better to be better than yesterday.

But honestly, running with my daughter, Mya, was even more important to me. We did a Color Run 5K together when she was four. She ran two miles straight, and I carried her for the last mile. She was so excited that she got a medal! Running with her brings me a lot of happiness.

FF: How have you been doing through the pandemic?

QUINONES: With COVID, I fell into a funk, with races canceled and gyms closing. But with running, it’s one of those things where I stepped back and realized, Oh, I can still go outside to run. This is one thing that isn’t canceled. Running can still give me a sense of freedom. In the city I run with a mask on, but in open places without people, I run without the mask and I feel free.

FF: Now that you’ve been running for a few years, what do you wish you had known when you first started?

QUINONES: I wish that I knew about road races at a younger age. I used to feel that it wasn’t for minorities or that I had to be elite in order to run.

I grew up in the Queensbridge projects in Long Island City. I would watch the marathon on TV but I never noticed many minorities participating, nor would I see them come in first place. As a kid I only knew basketball as a major sport, so, running seemed out of reach until I got older and branched out of my surroundings.

FF: What does it mean to you to be Latino?

QUINONES: Being Latino to me means being connected to everything because I can relate or connect to all nationalities by the culture. I’m Puerto Rican and Panamanian. When you meet other people from your culture you see connection within the different characteristics, like their background and upbringing. And then you connect based on the goals you're working toward.

FF: Who inspires you?

QUINONES: My Dad is the reason I run, but my daughters, Nyasia, Hailey, Mya and Zoe inspire me.

My dad was a Marine who never quit. Using that mentality continues to help me through my most difficult runs. Realizing that I would be viewed as a role model to others within the Latino community, including my daughters, I continue to strive to be better.

Rapid Fire Questions

What are your future goals?

My goal is to continue to show my girls that there is nothing they cannot do.

What is the biggest lesson you have learned from running?

You have to rest and foam roll before every run.

What advice would you give to new runners?

To foam roll and run your own race.

Where do you like to run?

I like to run everywhere.

What piece of gear can you not live without?

My running headband.

What is your favorite pre-run snack?

Bagels.

Favorite way to recover after a run?

Ice showers help me recover! I fill up the tub with ice and take a cold shower. I discovered this trick after taking cold showers to wash off the mud from an obstacle course race. I tried it after the NYC marathon and it really helps relieve muscle soreness.

What gets you motivated?

Listening to or watching David Goggins.

What is your favorite thing about the Latinos/Latinas Run community?

I love seeing the community coming together and cheering others on.

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