The Running Messenger Winter 2018

THUNDER

  • 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.

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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.

Project SOUTHWEST

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

It Takes a (Global) Village

Kipkalwa students and the current Kipkalwa School, half a century old!

Following independence in 1963, Kenyans eagerly anticipated advances in economic development, standard of living and education. But being a large and predominantly rural country, change was slow to arrive in remote areas, such as the village of Matunget, located a mile and a half high above the Great Rift Valley in northwestern Kenya.

With the nearest primary school several miles away and no early childhood education, Margaret Kosgei did her best to teach her own 7 children and in 1967, made a decision and commitment that has touched thousands of lives over the ensuing half century. She led a Harambee to establish the Kipkalwa School, where she taught the young children of Matunget for 4 decades, instilling in them a love of learning and creating opportunities for a brighter future.

Abraham, teacher Emily, and students, in their Santa Fe Thunder shirts

Daughter Emily Kosgei obtained her teaching credential and has carried on Margaret’s efforts for the past decade and son Abraham has long dreamed of another Harambee to establish a new school to further advance Margaret and Emily’s commitment to the children.

After the 7th running of Santa Fe Thunder in September, Abraham spent 3 weeks in Kenya advancing the Kipkalwa School Project. We are thrilled to share photos of his visit as well as the news that thanks to a generous donation this week by the owner of the Global Wildlife Center in Folsom, Louisiana, the Kipkalwa School Project has raised $18,000 toward our $30,000 fundraising goal!

We are working hard to reach our goal by the end of this year, which will enable Global Running Culture to carry out construction of the new school this coming spring. An African proverb says it takes a whole village to raise a child. Thanks to Abraham and Global Running Culture’s efforts, the village of Matunget’s support of the next generation has expanded to include friends from around the world.

We invite you to join Global Running Culture’s all-volunteer effort by making a 100% tax-deductible donation to the Kipkalwa School Project. Donations of any amount will help raise the school, and with it, more opportunities for learning.

Click here to learn more about Global Running Culture’s mission to better the lives of youth through the powers of sport and education in 3 primarily indigenous communities where running is a vital part of the culture: Matunget, Kenya, northern New Mexico, and Copper Canyon, Mexico.

Asante Sana (Thank you very much!),

Global Running Culture

Kipkalwa students enjoy Big Blue and Big Trailer. Everybody fits!

Making Dreams Come True

First task – hauling a load of sand to Global Running Culture’s land perched on the edge of the Great Rift Valley

Abraham has been looking forward to driving Big Blue for the past year!

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 mom, Margaret, Abraham drove Big Blue and Big Trailer from Eldoret to Matunget, a distance of some 70K. On the way, he stopped at the place where you get sand and loaded up.

I haven’t yet learned where the trailer tire went flat. Abraham reported that he didn’t have a tool kit, but fortunately the guy who built the trailer was willing to drive out there with the right tools and before too long, Abraham and Big Blue resumed their journey. Fortunately, as I learned on our last trip, cell phone coverage in the Great Rift Valley these days is far superior to places like Santa Fe.

Obstacles and resistance are the coin of the realm in our business. We are working both at home and far away and are accustomed to heavy lifting and exertion. Bumps in the road are overcome, calm is maintained, and the pace is maintained over time. It is no surprise that distance runners are the type to get things done.

We agreed that sand weighs a lot and that taking it easy on the equipment is the way to go. After all, Big Blue can make a few trips if necessary. Abraham’s efforts to stockpile the materials will help Uncle Ismael continue with the work that has now begun, preparing for our return visit next spring to construct the school.

Big Blue and Big Trailer get things done

Uncle Ishmael

Abraham’s Uncle Ishmael is the local Project Manager. We spent an afternoon together during the first GRC trip to Kenya. Soon after, Ishmael retired from his position as Director of Cultural Resources for Elgeyo-Marawket County.

Uncle Ishmael proposed to provide us with a letter authorizing transport of our kudu horn, ceremonial cape and monkey hat from Kenya to New Mexico in furtherance of educational and cultural exchange. He was to meet us with the letter at the Kenyan National XC Championships at Uhuru Gardens in Nairobi. Before the races began, someone approached me and gave me a letter along with the explanation that Ishmael couldn’t make it but wished us well. As Tim Gunn says “make it work!”

We are thankful to be on our journey and to share it with friends who are supporting Global Running Culture’s efforts to better the lives of youth through the powers of sport and education. Big Blue’s 72 horsepower is energizing the community. The Harambee for building the school will be the biggest local event since Margaret held her own in 1967 to establish the Kipkalwa School. We follow in the footsteps of amazing leaders and are honored to contribute to the life-changing work that Margaret, and her daughter/current teacher Emily, have done.

We invite you to join us and find out what comes next. It is never easy, but we are committed to our journey, and enjoying every step of the way.

Joseph Karnes

Global Running Culture

Post Race 2017 & a SUPER Offer

Simegn Abnet Yeshanbel Half Marathon 1:12:27

Thanks to all who made the 7th running of Santa Fe Thunder possible! On a cool and sunny late summer morning, over 1,100 runners from 35 states and 6 countries gathered for a mobile Fiesta down the Old Taos Highway finishing at the Buffalo Thunder Resort & Casino. Boniface Kongin, from Kenya and Albuquerque, won the Half Marathon with a blazing time of 1:03:11, out kicking 4 competitors over the final mile. Simegn Abnet Yeshanbelm, from Ethiopia and Albuquerque, bested her second place finish in 2015 to capture first place in the Women’s Division in 1:12:27. 18 year old Randy Gachupin, from Jemez Pueblo, won the Lightning 5K in 21:25 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, check out the free high resolution downloadable race photos!

Kipkawla School founder Ms. Margaret & her sister Tacy

Your participation in Santa Fe Thunder enables non-profit Global Running Culture to carry out its mission. GRC has been working since 2010 to build on the half century legacy established by Abraham’s mom, Margaret, by constructing a new Kipkalwa School in Matunget. We planned to travel to Kenya this fall to carry out the construction on the land GRC owns on the edge of the Great Rift Valley. However, due to the current uncertainty relating to the Kenyan Presidential election, we have decided to postpone construction until Spring 2018.

For the first time, we are opening registration for 2018 before the new year. To celebrate, we invite you to register for next year’s edition of The Race Different, which will be held on Sunday, September 16, 2018, now with a SUPER early-bird entry fee of $50 for the Half Marathon and $25 for the Lightning 5K. Entry includes an official Race T-shirt, custom-designed finisher’s medal, free downloadable professionally-taken race photos, and a unique race in a most special place. The super early-bird prices will be available until midnight, Friday October 15. Enter here and treat yourself to a weekend of culture, wellness, and fun next September!

Smooth Running!

Joseph Karnes  Race Director


Global Running Culture carries out projects to better the lives of youth through the powers of sport and education in 3 primarily indigenous communities where running is a vital part of the culture: northern New Mexico, Copper Canyon, Mexico and the village of Matunget, Kenya – home of GRC co-founder Abraham Kosgei. For more info, visit www.globalrunningculture.com

Pre-Race Preparation!

Abraham ready to raise the horn’s call to start the half marathon

We want you to have a great experience at Santa Fe Thunder, so here are some tips and insights into what you might expect, so you can be thoroughly prepared!

Mid September in Santa Fe is typically dry, with mornings in the mid-40’s and daytime highs in the low 70’s. It is usually clear, with little wind.

Half marathoners can bring their sweats on the bus. Bring your Sport Systems bag to the starting line and tear off the sweats bag tag from your bib, attach it to your bag, and leave it with the starting line volunteers. Your bag will be waiting for you at the finish.

5k runners can drop their tagged bags at the starting/finish line at Buffalo Thunder.

All events start at 7:30 AM and, especially if it is clear out or if there is a breeze, the cold can be piercing. Likewise, the sun can be intense as the morning passes. There are aid stations every 2 miles with water and Gnarly Hydrate sports drink – be sure to hydrate! We will not have energy bars at the aid stations this year, so if you plan to eat on the run, please plan ahead and bring your calories with you.

It’s all downhill from here!

Santa Fe is nestled at the foot of the Sangre de Cristo Mountains at an elevation of 7,000 feet. The air is ‘thin’ and humidity typically low. Dehydration is the primary threat, which exacerbates the lack of oxygen. You should be aware of your fluid intake the week before Race day and make sure you stay well hydrated once you arrive. Effective sunscreen is very important as well, as the later miles are open with no tree cover.

Fortunately for those coming up from lower elevations, the finish line at Buffalo Thunder is at 6,000’. You won’t have to worry about starting too fast, as the first 2.5 miles climb about 300 feet. As you cross Highway 285 on the Paz Bridge in the vicinity of the beautiful outdoor Santa Fe Opera you will reach the high point of the course, about 7,300’ – almost a mile and a half high! Soon an expansive panorama will open up before you – the 10,000 foot high Jemez Mountains to your left, the red rock Rio Grande Valley below, and the 13,000-foot Sangre de Cristo Mountains to the east. Your path ahead drops gradually but steadily past the famous Tesuque Village Market, through the Tesuque Pueblo, and all the way to Buffalo Thunder!

The steady drop can take its toll on your quads in the later miles, especially if you are dehydrated. Preparation will help! If you can, find a course where you can run downhill toward the end of your run, which will help prepare your muscles and joints for the course. Also, we are working to have masseuses at the finish line to work out any soreness you might experience.

There will be water, popsicles and bananas waiting for you at the finish line, along with your finisher’s medal designed by Bernice Gachupin of Jemez Pueblo – and perhaps an age group medal handmade by the Gachupin family (who made 150 medals for the half marathon AND Lightning 5K age group award winners!) Breakfast items and beverages will be available inside the Casino at the Turquoise Trail, where the awards ceremony and live entertainment will take place.

Until Sunday, smooth runnings!

The GRC team

By participating in Santa Fe Thunder, you are helping 100% volunteer non-profit Global Running Culture carry out our 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, the village of Matunget, Kenya, and Copper Canyon, Mexico.

Global Running Culture is preparing to build a school in co-founder Abraham Kosgei’s village of Matunget, Kenya, the culmination of a decade of sustained effort, including shipping our 72 HP tractor “Big Blue” to Kenya. Big Blue will be used to build the school and then power a farming business that will lift the village economy while providing operating income for the Kipkalwa School, founded by Abraham’s mom Margaret in 1967. To find out more, go to www.globalrunningculture.org.

Gathering of Messengers Dinner Invitation

Global Running Culture has held the Gathering of Messengers pre-race dinner for the past 6 years. Each year, we have honored an outstanding individual: Dr. Joe Vigil, Billy Mills, The Ultimate Warrior, Steve Gachupin, Caroline Rotich, and Peter Koech. Thanks to the generous assistance of the International Olympic Committee (IOC) and his tenacity, we are excited to announce that Kip Keino is scheduled to attend and give the keynote address at this year’s Gathering.

Mr. Keino had expected to complete his duties with the IOC in August, but has been invited to attend the session in Lima, Peru, which runs from September 10-20. Fortunately, thanks to the IOC’s efforts and adjustment of his travel schedule, Mr. Keino is scheduled to arrive on September 15, in time for the Gathering and Race day! Global Running Culture is grateful to the IOC for its consideration.

Kip Keino 1500m Mexico City Olympics 1968 final

Buffalo Thunder’s acclaimed chefs will prepare a traditional pre-race buffet featuring delicious pasta, with meat or vegetarian red sauce, fresh salad, warm bread and non-alcohol beverages. Race Announcer Mark Bravo, America’s Running Community Ambassador, will emcee the evening, recognizing our special guests, including a delegation of champion Tarahumaran ultra marathoners and artists from Copper Canyon, Mexico, a presentation by Race Director Joseph Karnes about Global Running Culture’s projects, and the keynote address by Mr. Keino, the first recipient of the Olympic Laurel by the International Olympic Committee.

Seating is limited and the Gathering will sell out ahead of race weekend. Reserve your seat now!

10!

10 Reasons to RUN THE RACE DIFFERENT!

Psssst….it’s worth reading them all.

Meeting Kipchoge “Kip” Keino, the Father of Kenyan distance running, 2 time Olympic Gold Medalist and renowned humanitarian.

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Visting the Land of Enchantment, and experiencing a magical time in Santa Fe, New Mexico, one of the world’s most unique and best-loved destinations.

Staying at the Official Race Hotel/finish line – the magnificent Buffalo Thunder Resort & Casino. Call 877.455.7775 and use the code THNDR to receive the entrant discount.

Wearing the Official Race T-shirt designed by Ricardo Cate, creator of the Without Reservations comic strip.

Firing up for your race with the sound of African drummers at the start, experiencing a truly unique starting horn, and enjoying live music all along the course.

Running down the Old Taos Highway on a typically cool fall morning. The point-to-point course is almost all a gentle downhill, dropping a net 1,000 feet!

Running with famed Tarahumara ultra-marathoners, trying on handmade 21st century running huaraches, and bringing home handmade Tarahumara arts and crafts from Copper Canyon, Mexico.

Enjoying a post-race massage by a masseuse from Ten Thousand Waves followed up by a soak in a private outdoor hot tub at their location above Santa Fe.

Winning one of 150 age-group medals handmade by the Gachupin family of Jemez Pueblo and earning a finishers’ medal custom designed for 2017.

And finally, a discounted entry fee! $10 discount for the Half Marathon and a $5 discount for the Lightning 5K! (discount will show at checkout) See you in September!

Cartoonist Ricardo Cate to Create 2017 Race T-shirt Design!

Abraham and Ricardo Cate in Santa Fe

From the start, Global Running Culture and Santa Fe Thunder have brought cultures together. Abraham created our organization’s name after moving from Kenya, working at the Pueblo of Pojoaque and realizing the many similarities between the way of life in the Pueblos of northern New Mexico, and his village of Matunget. Running is an activity that all cultures share and provides a rapid way (no pun intended) of getting to know one another.

In addition to runners from around the country,  the race brings together world-class runners from all over the world: Kenya, Ethiopia, and Tarahumara ultra marathoners from Copper Canyon, Mexico, to name a few. This year’s guest of honor is Kip Keino, father of Kenyan distance running, two-time Olympic Gold Medalist, and renowned humanitarian.

Without Reservations

We are excited to announce that this year’s Official Race T-shirts will be designed by Ricardo Cate, creator of the Without Reservations comic strip, teacher, and champion half marathoner. Without Reservations features Ricardo’s humor and perspective on issues and matters of the day and has generated international acclaim. Ricardo is preparing for performances in Europe and Japan this fall, and a book of his cartoons has been published.

Ricardo developed his love for distance running while attending boarding school in southern Colorado. Running provided an opportunity to get to know other students and his success opened doors for him, including the opportunity to attend the University of Nebraska. In one of life’s turns, responsibilities at home required him to miss that opportunity. Ricardo met Billy Mills, and soon after enlisted in the Marines. Since serving his country with honor, Ricardo has continued in service as a teacher, involvement in the Pueblo of Santo Domingo government, and in ensuring that the traditions of his Kewa people live on and are properly conducted.

Abraham, Ricardo, (Billy Mills) and Joseph

We are so excited to collaborate with Ricardo, and look forward to sharing his design!

 

Until next time, smooth runnings,

The GRC team

 

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The Tune Up

Big Blue’s formal arrival in Matunget is about to happen. To travel on public roads, registration and a license plate are necessary and particularly given Matunget’s remote location, that takes time. The Committee made the most of it by conducting a wheels-up inspection of Big Blue including disassembly of the engine and other major components to assess functionality, necessary maintenance and any repairs that are due or might be needed soon.

Big Blue with a yellow bumper!

The Committee also concluded that the trailer hitch was not strong enough for the heavy duty trailer custom manufactured by Mantrack Bodywork, located out west toward Eldoret, and that a pipe steel upgrade was called for. Another photo arrived without explanation – the yellow I-beam and pipe radiator protector. I have yet to understand completely how it will be utilized. When I brought it up, Abraham pivoted to talking about how there needs to be more weights added for Big Blue to be properly balanced with The Trailer, implying that the Committee has it all figured out and is taking care of it. I recognize and appreciate that they are on point for this end of the project.

The Committee is investing in the Kipkalwa School project and is preparing to involve the community of Matunget along with others throughout Kenya in the upcoming Harambee. As Abraham says, Big Blue is a game changer. The amount of work a 72 hp tractor, a 15 cubic yard heavy duty trailer and farming implements will be able to accomplish is something that we look forward to appreciating and celebrating. Paying outsiders high prices to rent a tractor and driver – who might be late and might be called away at any time, especially during the busy season, has been a way of life in Matunget since heavy machinery first arrived in the area not all that long ago. While spotting a passing tractor is not uncommon, there has never been a single tractor based in Matunget. As a result, productivity of the land and acreage farmed per capita have historically been relatively low. There is much upside potential in this lush high altitude land, bathed in the mists rising from the Great Rift Valley, thousands of feet below to the east.

Big Blue will enable family farmers to improve and enlarge their ability to till the land and to transport their products and cattle to market, resulting in higher prices by turning the tide and cutting out the middlemen who pass through occasionally with large trucks, paying low prices – and maybe not coming at the right time. Big Blue will pull The Heavy Duty Trailer the 20k 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-powered computers, a library, and a community center.

A Community Leader Addressing the Committee

The Committee has completed its maintenance and repairs, the bumper has been painted and at last the license plate and registration have arrived! We look forward to news of Big Blue’s arrival in Matunget and a photo in front of the half-century old Kipkalwa School building, just down the road from the 4 acres of land that Global Running Culture purchased in 2014 for the new Kipkalwa School building, campus and garden.

Licensed by the Federal Government to drive on public roads!

Stay tuned to the Thunder Blog for news about preparations for the 7th running of Santa Fe Thunder, including the attendance of Kip Keino, the father of Kenyan distance running and tips for making the most of your experience participating in The Race Different! We will also provide regular updates about Big Blue and preparations for the Kipkalwa School Harambee this fall!

Until then –

Smooth running,

Joseph Karnes
Race Director

The Kipkalwa School Project is one of Global Running Culture’s long-term projects designed to better the lives of youth through the powers of sport and education in 3 primarily indigenous communities where running is a vital part of the culture: Matunget, Kenya, northern New Mexico, and the village of Cusarare, Copper Canyon, Mexico.

 

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Big Blue Is Prepared for Work!

During Abraham’s trip to Kenya in April, he met with community leaders in Matunget to prepare for the arrival of Big Blue and construction of the new Kipkalwa School building this fall. Following several smaller meetings, the Kipkalwa School Committee held a 6 hour meeting to lay out plans and record commitments for the Harambee to come, one of the biggest in recent decades, perhaps since Margaret Kosgei founded the Kipkalwa School in 1967.

After finally escaping the Port of Houston in the 40-foot shipping container (and future 320 SF storage building) GRC bought, along with farming equipment and as much stuff for the kids as we could fit in the container, the shipment was waylaid in the UAE Port of Khor al Fakkan for 3 weeks. A friend asked why was it delayed? I responded “I’ll call the Fakkan Portmaster and find out.”

Finally arriving in Mombasa a week after Abraham returned home, Abraham’s brother David, a key member of the Committee, made the long journey and got the container cleared, not without complications. The container finally departed Mombasa aboard a flatbed semi, through Nairobi and up to the top of the Great Rift Valley, 7,500’ above sea level and just north of the equator.

Big Blue was scheduled to arrive during Abraham’s 3-weeks in Kenya, before the end of the dry season. Due to the Fakkan delay, as the truck reached Eldoret, ascended to Iten and then turned right onto the red clay road to Matunget, the skies cut loose. Rainy season arrived and turned the endangered Torok River from a trickle into a raging torrent less than 5K from Matunget!

After its 10,000 mile journey around the world, the container was ultimately dropped off on the far side of the River, where it will wait until dry season to be hauled the last 5K to GRC’s 4 acres of land, perched on the edge of the Rift.

Getting news of Big Blue is a bit like telephone using mobile phones and What’s App across oceans with operators possessing varying degrees of English and tech abilities (and autocorrect doesn’t help things). Several days after arrival, Abraham reported news of “leaking oil” and the need for “new gaskets” and a clutch plate. A day or two later, the following photos arrived, without explanation. I was not able to reach Abraham for another 2 days and had plenty of time to ponder the situation. It didn’t take long to attain comfort with the idea that I have full confidence in the Committee. They are taking on tasks unprecedented in the history of Matunget. Find out how the major tune-up went and the involvement of Kenyan bureaucracy in the next Thunder Blog!

The Kipkalwa School Project is one of Global Running Culture’s long-term projects designed to better the lives of youth through the powers of sport and education in 3 primarily indigenous communities where running is a vital part of the culture: Matunget, Kenya, northern New Mexico and the village of Cusarare, Copper Canyon, Mexico.

The rest of Big Blue is nowhere to be seen

In need of new gaskets, and structurally sound.

6-hour community meeting in Matunget

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