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.


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
















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.






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








2017 Santa Fe Thunder Honoree

1968 Mexico City Olympics – Kip at the 1,500m finish line

Mexico City – 1968

Kipchoge ‘Kip’ Keino leads the Olympic 10,000M final. With one kilometer to go, suffering from intense abdominal pain, he collapses to the infield. Despite being disqualified, Kip refuses to concede and finishes the race. Diagnosed with a gallbladder infection, doctors advise Kip to cease competing, warning that he risks permanent injury or even death. Declining the doctors’ advice, two days later, Kip wins the Silver medal in the 5,000M run, missing Gold by less than a quarter second.

Kip Keino, Joseph Karnes and Abraham Kosgei – Kenyan National Cross Country Championships, 2013

Still suffering from the infection, Kip qualifies for the 1,500M final, considers withdrawing and sleeps in on race day. Deciding to run at the last minute, his taxi is caught in Mexico City traffic and Kip jumps out and runs the last two miles to the 7,200’ elevation Olympic stadium, arriving just in time to be checked in. Facing a strong field including World Record holder, Jim Ryun, who completes the first lap near the rear of the field, Kip takes the lead from fellow Kenyan Ben Jipcho and goes through the half mile in a blazing 1:55.3. Heading into the third lap, Keino drops the field, completing 3 laps in 2:53.4. Kip dominates the final lap, maintaining his powerful stride for Olympic Gold, setting an Olympic Record of 3:34.91!

Kip’s performance electrified his newly independent nation and led the way for countless young runners to pursue their dreams, transforming Kenya into the strongest distance running nation on Earth. Global Running Culture is thrilled to announce that Mr. Keino will travel from Kenya to Santa Fe and will be this years guest of honor!

Abraham Kosgei and I had the good fortune to meet Kip at the 2013 Kenyan National Cross Country Championships at Uluru Gardens in Nairobi and to enjoy a long conversation about running, life and our mutual passion for helping children. Mr. Keino described his dedication to Kenyan youth, establishing the Baraka Farm orphanage and school to provide children in need with the opportunity to make the most of their lives. Kip’s story reaffirms the value of Global Running Culture’s efforts to better the lives of youth through the powers of sport and education in 3 communities where running is a vital part of the indigenous culture: northern New Mexico, Abraham’s village of Matunget, Kenya, and the village of Cusarare, Copper Canyon, Mexico (a group of Tarahumara ultra marathon champions and artisans participate in Santa Fe Thunder each year!)

We invite you to join our multi-cultural celebration of wellness by participating in the 7th running of Santa Fe Thunder and to take advantage of the a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to meet a living legend. Kip will speak at the pre-race Gathering of Messengers dinner and will attend the Global Footprints Youth Run and Global Running Festival on Saturday, September 16. On race day, he is scheduled to serve as the official Half Marathon starter and to sign autographs and pose for photos at the finish line Harambee Fiesta.

For those desiring a shorter challenge, the Lightning 5K and 1-Mile Fitness Walk will start at Buffalo Thunder at the same time as the half marathon, follow a beautiful off road course (on a paved trail) and end at the same finish line, allowing participants to cheer the half marathoners completing their event (including the world class runners competing for over $5,000 in prize money) and to enjoy the post-race Harambee Fiesta!

Stay tuned for more details, including reserving your opportunity to have your photo taken with Kip and to obtain an autographed photo! Also the opportunity to purchase Gathering of the Messengers pre-race dinner tickets, featuring a keynote talk by Mr. Keino, will be announced soon. If you would like to reserve your seats now, send an email to info@santafethunder.com. Attendance is limited and the dinner at Buffalo Thunder Resort will sell out.

The Santa Fe Thunder early entry window closes on June 15. Save $10 off your half marathon entry by entering now! The discount will automatically be applied at check out. Also, to take advantage of official race hotel Buffalo Thunder Resort’s, special participant discount, call (505) 455-5555 and use the code THNDR. Buffalo Thunder will sell out quickly, so please don’t wait!

The opportunity to meet Kip Keino and spend a long weekend at Buffalo Thunder while enjoying all Santa Fe has to offer is a unique bucket list opportunity that will not happen again. Treat yourself to an unforgettable weekend and Run the Race Different!

Smooth Running,
Joseph Karnes
Race Director


2016 Santa Fe Thunder Honoree

Abraham Kosgei, Peter Koech, Henry Rono, Joseph Karnes

Peter Koech

Peter was one of the first Kenyans to make northern New Mexico his home, and he has opened his heart and home to runners for more than 4 decades. He spoke at the pre-race dinner prior to the first running of Santa Fe Thunder in 2011, and has been a strong supporter of Global Running Culture ever since. Peter held the World Record in the 3000m steeplechase for 3 years and won a Silver medal in the 1988 Seoul Olympics in the same event.

Peter has inspired us to keep the pace and focus on our objectives. He has constructed many buildings in Kenya over several decades and at the end of two nights of focused discussion of the school we are preparing to build this fall in Abraham’s village of Matunget, Kenya, Peter said “it is simple. I will be there for you and you will make it happen.” He recognized that purchase and shipment of our 72 hp tractor Big Blue will not only provide the power to build the school, in addition the farming business will provide both employment and generate operating funds for the new Kipkalwa School building!



2015 Santa Fe Thunder Honoree

Abraham Kosgei, Caroline Rotich, Santa Fe City Councilor Patti Bushee, and Joseph Karnes, Caroline’s Boston Marathon victory parade, Santa Fe, NM 2015

Caroline Rotich

It was Abraham Kosgei who talked with Caroline Rotich about moving to Santa Fe in 2007. Caroline ran her way around the world and also heard about Santa Fe from her friends. After getting settled, in 2014 Caroline won the Boston Marathon and has become a loved member of the community, especially the children at Wood Gormley Elementary School, who look forward to Caroline’s frequent visits. We are honored to know Caroline and to share her love of Santa Fe, running, and helping children live a brighter future.

2014 Santa Fe Thunder Honoree

Joseph Karnes and raconteur Steve “King of the Mountain’ Gachupin, Jemez/Pecos Pueblo Feast Day, Pecos Pueblo, 2015

Steve “King of the Mountain” Gachupin

During our first visit, after talking running and life for awhile, Coach Gachupin took us outside and pointed at the mountains surrounding his home in Jemez Pueblo. “I make my own trail. Don’t follow nobody, just me and my dog.” He took that approach 6 years in a row at the Pike’s Peak Marathon, winning each time. Steve is a coach, grandfather, chief, enchanting story teller, and as his nephew Myron said after running his first Pike’s Peak, “somehow he defied gravity”. Each year, Steve’s wife Bernice and their family bless us by hand making and painting 150 age group awards, 3-deep in 5 year groups, for both the Half Marathon and the Lightning 5K.

We are fortunate that Jemez Pueblo has two feast days per year which they have shared with us. Running is central to the Jemez culture and lifestyle: it is what is done. Learning about the way things are done is a profound experience and carrying out programs to help the young athletes of the Pueblo is an energizing and rewarding endeavor.

2013 Santa Fe Thunder Honoree

A high speed freight train on a date with destiny. Always Believe.

The Ultimate Warrior

During his powerful and intense speech the night before Santa Fe Thunder, Warrior took a question from a brave guest: “what does wrestling have to do with running?” Warrior replied “well look what I did before every match – I ran to the ring as fast as I could!” Warrior proceeded to share his longstanding admiration for Emil Zatopek and to expound on what is takes to be successful in athletics and in life. “Prepare, perform and prevail in the time you have right f-ing now!” Warrior lived with a ferocious tenacity for achieving his goals. “Always Believe” is the Warrior motto, and Warrior’s passion for life made him a legend.

Warrior supported Santa Fe Thunder from the start and his enthusiasm for Global Running Culture’s mission of bettering the lives of youth through the powers of sport and education lifted us during challenging times and helped us recognize and appreciate each step and achievement. We will continue to share stories of our time with Warrior, contributing to a spirit that will run forever.

2012 Santa Fe Thunder Honoree

Abraham Kosgei, Billy Mills and Joseph Karnes, Heard Museum, Phoenix AZ

Billy Mills

Billy enjoyed a singular moment. Accelerating with the “wings of an eagle” past lapped runners, Mohammed Gammoudi and Ron Clarke, on the final turn of the 1964 Olympic 10,000M run in Tokyo, Billy achieved an iconic victory of the human spirit. Billy and his wife Patricia made the most of the opportunities that followed, dedicating their lives to spreading the message of positivity and helping children through his foundation, Running Strong for American Indian Youth. As he has for decades, Billy travels constantly, inspiring all with his vivid stories of perseverance and being happy in your life.

Running Strong has provided material support to Global Running Culture, benefiting children in northern New Mexico, Kenya, and Copper Canyon, Mexico and we look forward to every visit with Billy and Pat. Their positive attitude strengthens our resolve and their tremendous work on behalf of Native American youth demonstrates that we are on the right path. Billy and our 2017 honoree have been friends since “back in the day” and we are hopeful that they will be able to meet during our 2017 honoree’s visit to the United States (that’s a hint…).