The Race Different, from the Start

The Start

Abraham signaling the start of another year’s Santa Fe Thunder Half Marathon

You may ask, what makes this the Race Different? Let’s begin at the start. Backed by African drummers, world class Kenyan runner and Kalenjin warrior Abraham Kosgei, clad in a ceremonial leopard and kudu cape and wearing a 3-foot tall hat made from the pelt of a monkey who was not a thief (this is crucial), blows his Great Grandfather’s antique 4-foot long kudu horn to send the runners down the Old Taos Highway toward Pojoaque. How’s that for different?

We had no idea it would be this way. Three years ago this month, we set out for Kenya with 300 pounds of solar reading lights, school supplies, indestructible soccer balls, the first kites ever flown in Abraham’s village of Matungen, a dozen Aerobies (the world’s farthest thrown object over flat ground with no wind, and which I threw a solid 250 yards over the school, to the amazement of all) and other cool stuff. The story of our Kenyan journey is a long one.

Without any idea that we would see, let alone possess such powerful items, we returned home with the horn, cape, hat, and several other ceremonial objects. Of course, we have the perfect occasion to use and honor them once a year.

age group medals

Previous years’ handmade age group place medals

We strive to make every aspect of Santa Fe Thunder meaningful and memorable. From six live musical groups along the beautiful point-to-point downhill course through three Pueblos, to the Pojoaque Pueblo Youth Hoop Dancers performing at the finish line party at Buffalo Thunder Resort & Casino, to the 180 age-group medals (three-deep in fourteen age groups in the half marathon and 5K), this year, handmade by the artisans of the Gachupin family of Jemez Pueblo, Santa Fe Thunder provides more than the average race.

Also, each year we celebrate a person whose journey has inspired us, and has led the way for the next generation. In 2011, we honored Joe Vigil, Olympic and Hall of Fame Adams State Coach; in 2012, Billy Mills, Olympic Champion; in 2013, Wrestling legend and Founding Father of Ring Intensity, The Ultimate Warrior; in 2014, Steve ‘King of the Mountain’ Gachupin; and in 2015, Caroline Rotich, 2015 Boston Marathon Champion and Santa Fe resident. We are proud to announce that Peter Koech, Grandfather of Kenyan running in New Mexico, former Steeplechase World Record Holder, and Olympic Silver Medalist will be honored and will participate in race weekend activities!

And finally, don’t get us started on the City Different, which captivates and surprises us every day: that story is 400 years long! We invite you to join us and Run the Race Different!

Smooth Running,

Joseph Karnes
Race Director