Ultraman winner, loving mother, successful entrepreneur and author, Monica Fernández is this week’s QUEEN SHEVA not only for making Guatemala proud, but also for continuously encouraging women to push through any challenge and find empowerment through struggle.
Monica, known mostly as Toti, was born in Guatemala City and began exercising in her 20s in order to quit smoking. What began as a few laps in a pool eventually evolved into conquering several Ironmans— a race that involves a 2.4 mile swim, a 112 mile bicycle ride and a marathon (26.2 miles). Her discipline and passion got her through the endless hours of training, and Toti promised herself that she would stop at nothing until she had completed the most challenging races on Earth. In 2000, after hundreds of extremely arduous long-distance races like the Badwater Ultramarathon in California’s Death Valley, also known as “the world’s toughest foot race”, she accomplished perhaps her greatest achievement yet: Ultraman, with a race time of 28 hours, 8 minutes and 9 seconds. Likewise, three of the races (Marathon Des Sables, Badwater & Furnace Creek) Toti has participated in fall under the Top 10 Toughest Races by National Geographic.
Nevertheless, Toti’s achievements extend far beyond being an ultra athlete. In 2006, she founded Baby Survival Swim in Morocco and then in Guatemala, where she works with young children to help them develop a natural instinct for survival in water. She has trained over 400 children, saving many lives on the way and reassuring parents that their child will survive in case of a water accident. Toti is also currently writing an autobiography and continues to surprise her fans of her many talents.
Toti Fernandez accomplished many of her goals in order to set an example for her children, but has now set an example for all women who doubt if they can push themselves. One of our favorite quotes from Toti is, “Success doesn’t come from running faster, it comes by going step by step”. Toti’s personal struggles, which include having to flee Morocco after a difficult divorce, along with her vast accomplishments, have shown women that anything can be achieved through discipline, passion and perpetual determination.
Next time you’re complaining about working out or working too much, remember that Toti never thought anything was too hard to overcome. “La Chapina de Hierro” has been an inspiration to women everywhere and has shown them that the finish line isn’t as far as it seems.
Here we have Toti with some wise words: