Meet the plus-size runner who didn't give up after once being body-shamed by man at NYC marathon

Latoya Shauntay Snell, an ultramarathoner, wife, mother, activist and food blogger, has become an inspiration for plus-size women after sharing her story about how she was harassed for her weight while running through the New York City Marathon two years ago.

View this post on Instagram

Today starts a brand new chapter and it's one that this brown girl from Brooklyn didn't see coming. I'm officially a brand ambassador for @hokaoneone. On May 27, 2013, I started this adventure off as a "weight loss journey." I didn't know what I'd do differently that I tried years prior but it was the first time I fully took a chance on myself -- and I lost weight. Between the power of Google and on lookers, everyone had the answers for me until I didn't. I felt lost after a year and thought my happy pill would come with this. Nobody told me what to do after reaching this glorified number on the scale. Having a better relationship with my self worth, body and mind transformed me into an athlete. I gained some of the weight back, realized the heckling never stopped and was told (and currently told) that I shouldn't smile while fat. Be happy while fat. Do amazing shit while fat. And for once, I stopped looking for the world's approval and started listening to myself. From April 14, 2014, I redefined my adventures as a fitness journey; my life changed forever. Even after being diagnosed with endometriosis, sciatica and disc degeneration, it didn't stop me from being the bogeyman to my fears. Thank you HOKA ONE ONE for helping me light a flame that burns beyond me. Allowing me to be an ambassador to such a dope company sets the tone for any person of any size, any background and athletic ability to dream hard and perform harder. Holy. Crap. Pinch me, Alice. This is Wonderland. Please check out the link in my bio to catch an interview that I had with HOKA ONE ONE and see the dope video that we created together. You can view it here on IGTV and on their page. #runningfatchef #fatrunner #hokaoneone #womenwhomove #bethechange #athlete #plussizeathlete #representationmatters #diversitymatters #disablednotdisadvantaged #diversityandinclusion

A post shared by Latoya Shauntay Snell (@iamlshauntay) on

The 2017 New York City Marathon was Snell’s eighth marathon after she discovered a passion for running, an activity that she deemed as “oxygen.”

After facing several physical and emotional struggles, Snell was ready to take home her medal in the marathon, leaving all her energy and adrenaline on the course.

But what she wasn’t expecting were the words of a “tall, balding white man,” a bystander, that felt appropriate to shout her “It’s gonna take your fat a*s forever, huh?”

Snell described the upsetting situation in a blog entry for The Root, writing:

“Shocked and angry, I stopped and retorted expletives and insults. Two other female runners witnessed our confrontation and told me he wasn’t worth it. They were right, of course, but the damage was already done. By that point, I’d lost minutes and much-needed energy to a man who took pride in poking fun at my size.”

View this post on Instagram

Marathon season is over -- says who? 2019 will be here in a few weeks, temps are dropping and I need gear to match my goals. Whether I'm on the trails in Bear Mountain or creating fire through my soles on the pavement, I don't want the weather to serve as an excuse to stay indoors. Listen, this week I'm giving you New Year resolution goals on a random day of the week. Why? Because there's no time like the present. Pick up some gear from @skirtsports by visiting http://bit.ly/skirtwithlatoya and save 20 percent off using my code RFC20. Tell them I sent you. The link will be in the bio all week. Join me all week to catch a glimpse of my day to day routine. Today's 'New Day Resolution': I hate sprints like nobody's business but sometimes we have to do a little bit of what we don't want to enjoy the things that we desire. Hit a track, make a donut in your neighborhood or go to the treadmill. Warm up for 5 minutes and go for 20 to 30 second bursts for every 1 or 2 minutes. Aim for 20 minutes and cool down for 5 minutes. Tag a friend in the comments to keep you honest. Only takes 3 weeks to form a habit. What I'm Wearing: (What's my height/weight: I'm 5'3 1/2 and 242 lbs) Toasty Girl Vest in Grape Frost, XXL Toasty Tights in Black Frost, XL Watch Me Go Shirt in Black, XL Reversible Performance Beanie, One Size Photo Courtesy: @esnelldesign #runningfatchef #fatrunner #skirtsports #womenwhomove #swiftwick #chaseadventure #hokaoneone #timetofly #skratchlabsambassador #womenwhofly #ultrarunner #marathoner #ultrarunner #newyearresolution #mondaymotivation

A post shared by Latoya Shauntay Snell (@iamlshauntay) on

The most frustrating thing about the entire exchange, she said, is that the man had no idea what her reasons were for running or the struggles she had gone through before deciding to take part on the marathon.

For example, that she considered abandoning marathons altogether after the miscarriage of twins only three months before. Or that she had undergone surgery for endometriosis, or that she was constantly dealing with racist and fat shaming comments on her food blog.

View this post on Instagram

Somehow my husband and I managed to turn into that family who wake up on Thanksgiving morning and says, "hmmm, sure would be nice to run in 20 degree weather." And so we did it with @prospectparktc Turkey Trot 5 Miler. Although my husband can run much faster than me, we did 5 miles together. As we defrost, I'll be preparing to spend some time with our kid and the family. I'm always iffy about this day. It's been 9 years without my dad and my mother, sister and I feel his loss every year. I'll do my best to stay in high spirits but if I don't, that's okay too. #runningfatchef #fatrunner #skirtsports #womenwhomove #swiftwick #chaseadventure #hokaoneone #timetofly #skratchlabsambassador #womenwhofly #ultrarunner #marathoner #blackgirlsrun #representationmatters #familyrun #blackmenrun

A post shared by Latoya Shauntay Snell (@iamlshauntay) on

“As a mere spectator, he saw my 5-foot-3-inch, 218-pound body as a joke,” she continued. “And I—an exhausted runner who was so close but still so far from the finish line—fell for the bait, as he lured me with insults.”

The man also didn’t know that in 2013, Snell’s scale tipped over 265lbs, and she stopped weighing herself.

Or how when she decided to change her lifestyle, she fell in love with fitness and running, and ended up learning more about herself and what happiness really meant for her.

View this post on Instagram

There's so many layers that I couldn't possibly capture in one blog post. I'm exceptionally thankful for the Camp Brazen Goonies for being my lifeline each time I came in for another loop. Thank you to my @skirtsports sisters @ak_jenn and @2iguanas. There is no way that I was going to do 100K and not write about it. Please check out the @hokaoneone blog Concrete to Cacti: Latoya Shauntay Snell's First 100K to read all of the details: https://www.hokaoneone.com/blog?postid=concrete-cacti-latoya-shauntay-snells-first-100k Looking forward to next year's adventures with @aravaiparunning. Hope to see some of you out there with me! #runningfatchef #fatrunner #skirtsports #womenwhomove #swiftwick #chaseadventure #hokaoneone #timetofly #skratchlabsambassador #womenwhofly #ultrarunner #journeyto100K

A post shared by Latoya Shauntay Snell (@iamlshauntay) on

My new sport helped me find freedom and strength through the pavement, but it also taught me that the number on the scale didn’t dictate or govern my happiness.”

View this post on Instagram

When people heard about my "marathon tour,' a few said to me: 'Oh, running must be easy for you?' The answer is no: Far from easy. I ran my entire life scared of shit. Scared of success. Scared of being too hood. Being too much of an 'oreo' amongst friends and family. Being too smart. Too loud. Too dumb. Too oblivious. Too independent. Too sexual. Too masculine. Too vulnerable. Or soft. Or funny. Sensitive. Hardened. Successful. Too human. I learned how to run away from myself so damn well that I knew how to camouflage into nothing. It is interesting to hear how the conversations evolve/regress with different audiences. To some, you're a sellout if you speak with apologies but you're bordering the country lines of being a bitch when you're loud and unapologetic, especially as a black woman. When I am stopped by certain audiences, I'm told that I speak so well... and depending upon the tone, I know to interpret this different ways. I heard it all of my life. I was the smart, ghetto girl who could educate you about bankruptcy law while shooting the breeze about whose ass I was ready to kick on Gates Avenue. I'm not an anomaly; I knew so many people who fell into categories like this growing up. The hardest race that I ever participated in was the race against being myself. It was the most exhausting, lackluster crap that I signed up for in my life. And I didn't get no damn medal or a beer. There were no high fives on that course or even a stale bagel. I wore a crown labeled jack ass and once in a blue, I get a crackerjack prize at the bottom. It took for the love of fitness to teach me how to wear my layers like beauty marks. You don't get to choose where it is placed but you can wear that shit with pride. Either they're viewed as blemishes or signatures. Every single layer is a mark of elegance. So back to running: 'Is running easy?' Hell no -- but the struggle feels so much better than the walking away from growth and possibilities that I practiced for 25+ years of my life before it. 📷 @adipositivity, pic 1 📷 @funandfitnesswithshelly, pic 2

A post shared by Latoya Shauntay Snell (@iamlshauntay) on

She lost over 170 lbs in two years, but was met with the same backlash she faced when she was over 250 lbs.; this time around, with people telling her she was too thin and even asking if she was on drugs.

In the end, Snell gained some of her weight back on purpose but kept working out, running marathons and developing a healthier relationship with food and her body.

View this post on Instagram

It's been four days and I'm still having dreams of being in the desert. For some reason, I keep reliving loops two and three, particularly when I was moving through the night. As more people find me via social media, reminding me of moments that they saw me on the course, I'm amazed. At certain points, I had a hard time being upbeat. Hearing from so many that I actually said something to them on the trail that made them smile or even being reminded that I helped a few people with sun screen in the middle of a race makes me feel a little relieved that I wasn't that much of a grouch on the course. 😂 It's strange how your self reflection and actual perception from others is different. I'm learning a great deal from this race days later and can use these things for the NYC Marathon in three days. My body is feeling spectacular and I barely feel the blood blisters on my feet. Preparing myself for the rest of my adventures: NYC Marathon in 4 days, Spartan Ultra Beast, SC in 17 days, Prospect Park Turkey Trot 5K in 21 days, Seattle Marathon in 24 days and Spartan Beast - Mulberry, FL in a month. ... after that, I need a much needed vacation for a week before I start training for more marathons and @transrockiesrun_official for 2019. Photo Courtesy: @fly.joyce #runningfatchef #fatrunner #diversitymatters #skirtsports #representationmatters #diversityoutdoors #womenwhomove #swiftwick #chaseadventure #hokaoneone #timetofly #ultrarunner #skratchlabsambassador #womenwhofly

A post shared by Latoya Shauntay Snell (@iamlshauntay) on

So, after her initial reaction to the man’s comments, Snell realized that there was no need for her to harbor anger or aggression because “that man wasn’t the first, and likely won’t be the last, to toss off a callous comment about my weight.”

She added:

“I’m aware of what I look like, and the stereotypes that accompany my size, and anyone who thinks I need to be educated about the laundry list of obesity risks needn’t bother. I’m fat. Full-figured. Thick. Plus-size. Powerful. Capable. Empowering. Phenomenal.”

View this post on Instagram

Now that it's been hours and the throbbing in my feet serves a reminder of what transpired over two days, I am in awe of my accomplishments. Can I share something serious with ya'll? I was ready to quit at the beginning of lap two. It took me two hours more than I thought it would at loop one. Although I'm rarely a person who obsess over time, I became that person. When I threw out my plans, the heart of Javelina Jundred had just begun. People asked me for months on my why to do a 100K. I felt conflicted because I would bounce from one reason to another -- and frankly, almost a year and a half ago, I laughed hard about any "idiot" who'd do it. So here's my whys: 1st lap: For every person who received a shifty side comment suggesting that they don't fit the mold in any aspect of their lives. It's been almost a full year since I went viral from being heckled; I carried statements that I received and some of yours in my right pocket for an entire loop, even making it a point to match each outfits for my whys. 2nd lap: The Testimony - For my 'Slow AF', back of the pack runners who tend to not feel embraced in a community that they want to be seen as equals. If you EVER need an ultra or any race that understands inclusivity, please go to @aravaiparunning. I'll blurb later on about this. 3rd lap: To the girl who dropped out of high school for 7 gym credits -- myself. I am so tired of opportunities being presented to me and I run away because of fear. I NEEDED this challenge more than a lot of you know. I was mentally broken last year. I suffered from that last miscarriage, contemplated suicide and despite inspiring the world with my transparency, it took a LONG TIME to honor who I was becoming. I love ya'll more than you'd ever know. Your whys are infinite and should never been looked at as too small. From the elite runners that I now am fortunate enough to call friends to the snail paced, herniated disc warriors, we all put in the work. I'm honored to become a 100K ultra runner through Javelina Jundred; next year: 100 Miles. Special thanks: @hokaoneone Team Photo courtesy: @trailjunkiephotos @howiesternphoto @aravaiparunning

A post shared by Latoya Shauntay Snell (@iamlshauntay) on

And in the end, she said, the most powerful clapback for that man was the fact that her thick legs were able to carry her from New York’s Staten Island, across five boroughs and ending in Manhattan.

“I am powerful because I believe that I am,” said Snell. “And I owe nobody an explanation for what moves me.”

View this post on Instagram

NYC, yerrrrrr! This is the last announcement that I'll nag you about for this run. Join me in Brooklyn tomorrow on September 16th at 10am for the Midterm Run for a 4k walk to 4 mile run. And yes, bring yo kids, yo aunties and your brothers too -- mine is coming as well. The Midterm Run is a 2018 mile run to Activate Progressive Power and Flip Congress. What does this mean? We want you to know the power of your vote, get registered and get in a mile or four -- walkers, slow runners and anyone with a pulse are highly encouraged to show up. Here's some background: The Midterm Run is a national grassroots progressive initiative to raise money and awareness of candidates running to flip Congress by running (or walking) 2018 miles. The districts and races we're focused on were picked because the progressive candidates in those races are committed to the Midterm Run's core values regarding women's health and women's rights, commonsense gun laws, LGBTQ issues, immigration rights, criminal justice reform, and healthcare. And you know what else is dope about it? The Midterm Run is powered by Run 4 All Women (@run4allwomen) and Black Voters Matter led by two extraordinary individuals: Alison Desir (@alisonmdesir) and LaTosha Brown (@mslatoshabrown). Check out the details by visiting: https://www.facebook.com/events/284013448864421/?ti=cl Suggested donation is 15.00 but if you don't have it, please show up. I would love to see you there. #runningfatchef #fatrunner #runner #whyirun #plussizeathlete #womenempowerment #core #votenyc #LGBTQ #equality #womensrights #womensrightsarehumanrights #blackvotesmatter #bethechange #beloud #bepresent #representationmatters #immigration #midtermrun #vote4allwomen #yourvotecounts #yourvotematters

A post shared by Latoya Shauntay Snell (@iamlshauntay) on

These days, Latoya has become and celebrity on Instagram. Sharing her work out routines, food recipes, and filling her feed with positive messages that inspire other plus-size women to embrace their curves.

Related posts
Viral Stories Mar 28, 2019
Man Achieves 475-Pound Weight Loss Transformation and Is Now Training for Marathon
Shutterstock.com
Stories Mar 07, 2019
Story: Teen Daughter Bullying and Shaming Overweight Kids
Celebs Mar 13, 2019
'For 4 Days, I Had to Be Trapped,' Tami Roman Opens up about Being Kidnapped, Held Hostage & Abused
Jan 18, 2019
Plus-size model's underwear photo goes viral & sparks heated debate on social media