Early on a sunny August day six years ago, Abraham and I played hooky and headed south on our ‘Tour de Pueblos’. The first stop was Cochiti Pueblo, where we found ourselves at the subdivision next to the Pueblo where nary a Pueblo member was to be found. We finally walked into a building and were directed down the road to the offices next to the Cochiti Golf Club (a fantastic course!), where we found some tasty breakfast burritos in addition to the exact people we were looking for. After our false start, we felt confident that we had a chance of achieving our goal of finding the right people and providing race information to 7 Pueblos.
We founded Global Running Culture with the mission of bettering the lives of youth through the powers of sport and education in three communities where running is a vital part of the culture: northern New Mexico, Abraham’s village of Matungen, Kenya, and Copper Canyon, Mexico. We realized that providing a half price discount to Pueblo and Tribal members would further our mission, given that parents set an example for their children. We also created a free children’s event, the Global Footprints Youth Run, to be held on the day of packet pickup – they day before the half marathon. We made a big stack of fliers, did some research on the locations of Wellness Centers, and set out for an adventure, with the final destination being Jemez Pueblo and its Feast Day.
We rolled down Highway 22 along the Rio Grande, hitting Santo Domingo, San Felipe, Santa Ana and Sandia Pueblos before lunch, having some great conversations along the way. We chowed down at Golden Corral and dropped off posters and fliers at some ABQ running stores before heading back north and then west on Highway 502.
We ran into a runner we knew at the Zia Pueblo medical center, and then crossed our finish line at the Plaza in Jemez Pueblo, where we enjoyed the rest of the afternoon watching the amazing dances and eating with the Gachupin family, who have been involved with Santa Fe Thunder from the start.
The ‘Tour de Pueblos’ and our subsequent outreach efforts resulted in participation by more than 100 Pueblo and Tribal members. We were thrilled to welcome so many Native runners, some of whom traveled from as far away as South Dakota, Kansas, Oklahoma and Washington.
In 2012, Pojoaque Pueblo Governor George Rivera created a statue of Olympic Champion Billy Mills (which Abraham modeled for). Billy, Pat, and their daughter Billie Jo attended Santa Fe Thunder and we were proud to present Billy with a 2-foot tall bronze in thanks for his four inspiring talks during race weekend. Our relationship with Running Strong for American Indian Youth has blossomed since then. Global Running Culture has distributed winter clothing, daypacks filled with school supplies, and running shoes, in several northern New Mexico Pueblos, the Hopi Reservation and in the Copper Canyon village of Cusárare.
In 2013, Wendi Lewis invited us to speak at the We Run Strong conference in Moenkopi, Arizona. We were thrilled to participate and to take part in the evening Luminaria Run – one of the most unique and special runs anywhere. On the last day, we had the good fortune to head out into the pre-dawn darkness following Waylon Pahona, founder of the Facebook group, Healthy Active Natives. We connected on many levels and since then, we have joined forces and collaborate at every opportunity. As Abraham says “when you want to run fast, run alone. When you want to run far, run together.” HANS is up to over 60,000 group members and the number of Native and Tribal Santa Fe Thunder participants has increased each year, with over 300 in 2015.
“Harambee” is an African concept meaning “we all come together.” It is a way of life, where community is central to the well being of all. “We are all in this together” is a fundamental shared understanding and strength. Global Running Culture celebrates the mix of cultures and Santa Fe Thunder offers the opportunity to be part of a gathering of runners from around the country and world. Running alongside Rarámuri (Tarahumara) ultradistance runners from Copper Canyon, Mexico; Pueblo and Tribal runners from many clans near and far, and world class runners from Kenya, Ethiopia, Morocco and other parts of the world, is a memorable experience and great opportunity to make new friends.
We invite Pueblo and Tribal members to sign-up for the 6th running of Santa Fe Thunder by sending an email to firstname.lastname@example.org with your name and the Pueblo or Tribe of which you are a member. We will email you a discount code for the race entry portal at active.com.
Now that I’m thinking about it, maybe it’s time to take another ‘Tour de Pueblos’ leading up to Jemez Feast Day this August!