Roel Santos is a Texas-based runner who finds meaning in the family traditions of running, parenthood, and cultural heritage. We love the joy he brings to life and sport, so we wanted to hear more about his story on and off the course.
Hey Roel, tell us a little about yourself.
I’m 38 years old, born and raised in South Texas in Alice, TX. I grew up always loving sports—mostly basketball, but I loved to run. I always found a place of peace when I did that. My uncle was a runner, as was my dad. The competitive edge they both had ran deep in our family. As I got older, I always talked about running marathons, and in 2018 I finally achieved the dream of running a marathon as I ran the Rock N Roll here in San Antonio.
Since then I’ve run two half marathons and am planning on running the Chicago Marathon next year. In the process of running and training for the marathons I raised over $1,500 for St Jude being a Hero for the foundation.
What’s the most important thing you’ve been a part of and why?
First and foremost, my family. Being a father, and husband has been such a blessing. My wife and kids motivate me to be the best version of myself every single day. I couldn’t ask for more, seeing their faces everyday just reminds me I need to be on my A game.
Second, being my father’s son. Growing up in the same town he did was a cool experience. Sometimes I couldn’t go anywhere without someone knowing who I was, because I’m a spitting image of my father. He was very involved in the community, with fundraisers and helping people in need. He always wanted me and my sisters to understand our heritage and where we came from because it was important to him.
How did this experience impact you personally?
My wife and kids are my driving force every day. If I’m having a moment, I like to take a step back and re-assess and try to regain focus on my work. Failure isn’t an option for me, so I always try to be positive. It’s absolutely the greatest feeling in the word to be a husband and father. Like I mentioned, it’s the single greatest feeling I’ve ever felt.
Being part of our family as a whole, being Hispanic, it’s an amazing feeling. I like to hear stories about my great grandparents and my grandparents from my mom and dad, and it just makes me feel proud to be in this family history. Especially in today’s landscape, I feel that we as Americans all need to know where we came from and how our family started. Culture is something that’s become everything to me recently.
As an athlete, who was/is your inspiration, and why?
Oh wow, I feel like there’s so many. Living in San Antonio, I’d have to say Manu Ginobili is one. Kobe Bryant is another, and Eliud Kipchoge is one as well. All of them embodied that killer instinct, competitive spirit, and wanted to be the best! Mamba Mentality is something that has been embedded into my daily life and routine the last 3 years.
How did you get into basketball?
My father played basketball, he wanted to me play, height ran in our family. When I was about 6 years old, he tried to get me into the boys and girls club league and I quit the first day. He didn’t want to push me so he let me be.
That was probably the best thing because of what happened next. He loves to tell people this story—he heard a crashing noise outside and when he looked out, he saw me using a soccer ball and I was shooting it in the trash can. I kept moving back after I made one. He soon put up a goal, and I practiced every day.
You’ve since moved onto running. How are basketball and distance running similar?
Very similar, to get better you have to put a lot of work in. You have to be focused, and most of all you have to carry a lot of patience. There’s that saying goes, it’s a marathon not a sprint, and not to sound too cliché but it holds true. And most of all? You have to want to get better.
What’s your go-to Honey Stinger product for training and races?
The Almond Butter Dark Chocolate Cracker Bars are my favorite. A friend of mine who’s also a marathoner swore by your products and we bought a pack at the RnR Expo last year and since then, I’ve been hooked. I also enjoy the Waffles, especially the Salted Caramel and Vanilla. After my runs these have been so good to have.