The Running Messenger Winter 2018


  • Simegn Abnet Yeshanbel, Women’s 1st place, 1:12:27

  • Boniface Kongin, Men’s 1st Place 1:03:11

Race News

The 7th running of Santa Fe Thunder celebrated late summer at the foot of the southernmost Rockies with a gathering of runners from 35 states and 6 countries. On a cool and sunny morning, over 1,100 runners completed the mobile Fiesta down the Old Taos Highway finishing at the Buffalo Thunder Resort & Casino, and along the Butterfly Trail in the Lightning 5K. Boniface Kongin, from Kenya and Albuquerque, won the Half Marathon in the Men's Division with a blazing time of 1:03:11, out kicking 4 competitors over the final mile. Simegn Abnet Yeshanbel, from Ethiopia and Albuquerque, bested her 2015 second-place finish to capture first place in the Women’s Division in 1:12:27. Eighteen year old Randy Gachupin, from Jemez  Pueblo,  won the Lightning 5K in 21:25 in the Men's Division and Jaima Chevalier, from Santa Fe, won the Lightning 5K Women’s Division in 21:33, just 6 seconds back from Randy. Race results are available online, and as Global Running Culture’s parting gift to all our participants, we provide free high resolution downloadable race photos!

We are already planning the 8th running, which will take place on Sunday, September 16, 2018. Prices have been lowered and the early entry prices of $55 for the half marathon and $30 for the Lightning 5K are available now. Enter now to reserve your entry, race T-shirt, unique finishers’ medal designed by Jemez artist Bernice Gachupin, and free race photos.

Featured Sponsor

Sport Systems of Albuquerque has been instrumental in enabling Global Running Culture to make Santa Fe Thunder happen each year. Thanks to the use of Sport Systems' box truck during race week, we are able to transport water, food, T-shirts, and race supplies on race day, set up six aid stations, and follow the final finisher from the start at Fort Marcy to Buffalo Thunder. Sport Systems also hosts the ABQ packet pickup event on the Tuesday before race weekend, donates sweats bags, and helps promote Santa Fe Thunder year-round. Keep an eye out on Sport Systems' Facebook page for special Santa Fe Thunder discounts!

Duane Kinsley is the owner of Sport Systems, the largest independent sporting goods retailer in New Mexico’s most populous city. Abraham and I had the good fortune to talk with Duane at length about his “beat the internet” philosophy that he has implemented and promotes. Given today’s high-performance running, cycling, skiing and outdoor gear, expert personal service is more valuable than ever. The staff at Sports Systems can share not only their thorough knowledge of gear, but also their expertise in different sports and activities once they get to know the customer’s interests. In an interview with KRQE TV, Duane described the benefits for skiers: “what we do is we add all kinds of extra value, services like mounting the ski, doing a new ski tune up, free hot waxes for life.”

We branded Santa Fe Thunder “The Race Different” to emphasize our commitment to making the event special and to celebrate our extraordinary and distinct setting.   Likewise, Duane and Sport Systems’ focus on helping their customers learn while selecting their outdoor gear demonstrates their passion and commitment to their specialty. They know that their clients rely on their gear and want to know how to get the most from it. Offering knowledgeable advice based on years of personal experience makes all the difference, and we are proud to be associated with Sport Systems.

Abraham at Sports Systems store

Abraham knows that personal service is where it’s at!

Honored Guest

Dr. Joe Vigil & friends at the inaugural Santa Fe Thunder - 2011

In preparing to launch Santa Fe Thunder in 2011, we decided to choose someone we greatly admire to honor at our pre-race dinner, Dr. Joe Vigil. We were thrilled and amazed when Coach Vigil and his wife Caroline drove from their home in Tucson, AZ to join us for race weekend. Coach inspired all of us while setting a super positive tone for race day. Our experience convinced us that honoring friends who inspire us is a worthy and valuable tradition.

Each year we have worked hard to maintain the commitment to excellence that Coach Vigil instilled in each of his athletes, both in putting on the race and in selecting our annual Gathering of Messengers' honorees and speakers. Billy Mills, The Ultimate Warrior, Steve “King of the Mountain” Gachupin, Caroline Rotich, Peter Koech, and Mbarak Hussein have each delivered powerful and heartfelt presentations after dinner. We look forward to continuing this tradition in 2018, and for now, share our tribute to Coach Vigil.


Big Blue + Big Trailer = Big Blue School Bus, and everyone fits!

Kipkalwa Students & their Big Blue School Bus, with the original school behind them

Thanks to the generous support of many, we are making strides toward our goal of raising $30,000 to fund the Harambee to build the new Kipkalwa School. Over $18,000 in contributions big and small have arrived! We are so grateful.

Check out our video showing Big Blue in Matunget and Abraham’s visit! Click here for a video about our background and our journey, uniting in New Mexico with the shared goal of empowering the next generation through the powers of sport and education in three primarily indigenous communities where running is a vital part of the culture.

We welcome all donations and offer different ways you can personalize your donation, and share your words of encouragement with the children of Matunget. Click here to find out more, make a donation, and join the Harambee!

Sponsor Spotlight

The Global Wildlife Center in Folsom, Louisiana is the largest totally free-roaming wildlife preserve of its kind in the country. The Center is known for being “Africa… in Louisiana” and is home to over 4,000 exotic, endangered, and threatened animals from all over the world. Pinzgaur safari wagons set off on hour and a half explorations into the 900 acres of beautiful Louisiana countryside, complete with 21 ponds and a lake. During the tour, guests come face to face with free-roaming bison, giraffes, zebras, camels, eland, and many other exotic animals.

Global Wildlife Center shares more than a first name with Global Running Culture. Both organizations are focused on helping children learn about their world. Each year, the Center hosts hundreds of field trips, providing opportunities for schoolchildren to spend time enjoying a unique adventure in a beautiful natural environment.

We are grateful for Global Wildlife Center’s generous donation toward the Kipkalwa School Project, bringing us over 60% of the way to our fundraising goal of $30,000. We look forward to introducing the Global Wildlife Center owners and operators to our friends in Kenya, including the UNESCO World Heritage Centre Lake Bogoria National Reserve. For those planning a trip to Kenya as a bucket list adventure in the future, the Global Wildlife Center is the perfect opportunity to get a glimpse of Africa, right now! Asante sana, Global Wildlife Center!

The Global Wildlife Center is the largest totally free-roaming wildlife preserve of its kind in the country!

Project KENYA

Abraham, teacher Emily, and students

Making Dreams Come True - Two weeks after Santa Fe Thunder, Abraham flew to Nairobi and launched the next phase of the Kipkalwa School Project. After spending a few days with his mother Margaret, Abraham drove Big Blue and Big Trailer from Eldoret to Matunget, a distance of some 45 miles. On the way, he stopped at 'the place where you get sand', loaded up Big Trailer, and made the first delivery to the school site, perched at 7,000 feet on the edge of the Great Rift Valley. See for yourself Abraham’s visit with the young students of Matunget.

We look forward to returning to Kenya to celebrate Harambee-style with the community and go vertical with the school building. We are fortunate that Abraham’s Uncle Ismael has agreed to serve as Director of the Big Blue Project. Putting our tractor, trailer, and implements to best use will benefit the community as well as the Kipkalwa School, and directing the Project is a crucial job.

Big Blue will expand family farmers' ability to cultivate the land, and to transport their products and cattle to market. Cutting out the middlemen with large trucks who pay low prices, passing through occasionally and unpredictably, will enable the farmers in Matunget to take home more of their earnings.  Big Blue will pull the heavy duty Big Trailer the 12.5 miles to Iten where the road drops into the Great Rift Valley, traveling up to Kabarnet (home of 5-time World XC Champion Paul Tergat), Lake Baringo, Lake Bogoria, Nakuru, and ultimately Nairobi. Transporting larger harvests to Iten will generate greater profits for Matunget families, and will generate operating income for the Kipkalwa School including the critical hot meal program, and will provide funding for school resources and improvements, including solar power, a library, and a community center.


Global Running Culture is thrilled to contribute over $2,500 to local non-profit organizations providing volunteer support during race weekend. Asante sana (thank you very much) to the Pojoaque High School Boys Cross Country Team (this year’s team just took 2nd at State!), the Pojoaque Pueblo Wellness Center, New Mexico Ice and Northern Strike Youth Basketball teams, and New Moon Lodge.

We are looking forward to the 7th annual Pojoaque Youth Indoor Soccer Camp this winter and the 6th annual Pojoaque Youth Running Camp in early summer. These 3-day events are free, include healthy nutrition sessions and lunches, and help local children practice and enjoy living healthy active lifestyles!

Pojoaque Youth Indoor Soccer Camp