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!

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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…).

2011 Santa Fe Thunder Inaugural Honoree

Dr. Joe Vigil, with Pojoaque Pueblo Governor George Rivera (#1) and others at the inaugural running of Santa Fe Thunder

Dr. Joe Vigil

Dr. Vigil and his wife Caroline drove out from their home in Arizona for the inaugural edition of Santa Fe Thunder. Coach Vigil is a force of nature and is always willing to share time to talk running. During his almost 3 decades as the Adams State head coach, Dr. Vigil’s runners won 19 National Cross Country Championships, including a perfect score of 15 in the 1992 NCAA Cross Country final! His pioneering study of altitude training led to appointments as Olympic distance running coach in 1968 and 1988 and his motivational speech to the 200+ runners enjoying their pre-race dinner resulted in New Mexico state half marathon records for the men’s and women’s winners the following day and a positive vibe for everyone! We always be grateful to Coach Vigil and Caroline for their willingness to support a brand new event and boost Global Running Culture forward. Thanks Coach!

Getting the Most From Your Long Run

It took me years to figure out the key to getting the most from a long run. I have come to appreciate and refine the theory and application of the many aspects of training mind and body to keep going all the way to the finish. This morning, my dog Punkin and I enjoyed our standard twice weekly 3 hour run, this one exploring the edge of Glorieta Mesa. The first hour, we climbed an 800′ peak and the second, we headed up an arroyo to the top of its watershed at the north edge of the mesa. That part of the run was the precursor to the critical final third.

Running well when tired is what distance running is all about. If you can maintain your pace and even step it up the final third of a race, confident that you can sustain the effort and pace to the finish, it is likely that your results will improve and you will go far toward reaching your potential. Watching the pack dwindle is energizing, and prevailing in the war of attrition in the later miles is satisfying regardless of your relative pace.

Billy Mills

Our friend Billy Mills won Olympic Gold with a devastating kick on the final stretch and by KNOWING he could make it to the finish line!

Likewise, length of your long run is immaterial. Running well the last third of the distance is what we are after. As with all training, repeated efforts are rewarded and with each effort, confidence grows and performance improves. I look forward to the last hour and engage mentally and focus my whole being on maintaining good form and employing various methods of achieving a solid effort all the way to the finish.

Picking up the pace a few notches, I start by maintaining a steady rhythm and letting myself experience and enjoy each moment. Running cross-country as I do, a faster pace requires more attention to obstacles at all levels. The same holds true regardless of surface, particularly as form tends to erode as the legs get heavy. Sometimes when my mind wanders, I’ll envision races I have run, appreciating a taste of those competitive days long ago. The feeling of passing fading runners with the certainty that the pace to the finish would not slack, but instead could still be ratcheted up a few notches, is powerful.

Once the long faster effort starts to wear, I might slow to recover for a minute or two and then shift gears and throw in some fartlek, zinging the legs and providing time for recovery and perhaps checking out the landscape. Sometimes I’ll even stop for a few minutes of stretching. The final third of the last third is a celebration and always ends the same way. Once I feel like there are a couple of miles remaining, I’ll begin my drive to the finish. From here, it is serious business. I was always confident that I would not be passed the last 5K of a race. Sometimes I was, but because another guy was faster than me, but not because I fell apart.

After 35+ years of strong finishes, I know that I will make it. It’s not a matter of a sprint to the finish over the last few hundred yards that we’re after. It’s making your move with a mile or two to go. Back in the day, I could count on closing with a sub 10 minute 2 mile in any race up to a half marathon, including a kick if necessary. Going early was my move. Sitting and kicking certainly was not.

That’s it. Doing what it takes to run well the last third of your long run is the best advice I can give on the subject. I have other particular thoughts about speedwork, but that is for another day. Also to come is a post about preparing for the altitude, uphills and downhills at Santa Fe Thunder.

Best wishes in training your body and mind to run well when you are tired.

Smooth Running!

Joseph Karnes
Race Director

 

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Playing With Time

Dog looking out over mountains

Pumpkin never worries about what time it is. (ETA: Unless it’s 4pm – dinner time)

On our off-leash walk along the back road this evening, I divided our route into 5 segments and worked it out so that I would be waiting ahead by the time my dog Pumpkin arrived. At the farthest point, my plan worked perfectly, and she looked up to find me waiting there and we turned around together without issue. Just like one of my most tremendous friends Chuck Robinson used to do, I played with time. Thinking ahead and being there when others arrive can be a powerful achievement.

And sometimes time plays with us. We pushed back Abraham’s departure to Kenya so that he would have time after our shipping container arrives in Mombasa to take care of business or be able to handle any unforeseen delay. The container was on schedule until it arrived in the UAE Port of Khor Fakkan. First, we learned that the container would be delayed by a week, and then it was another week and just now, I learned it will be yet another week. As of now, we are hoping for a Saturday arrival.

A friend asked why the delay? I responded “I’ll call the Fakkan Portmaster and ask him.” Abraham has done his best to set up a path to Matunget once the container arrives and has a clear vision of our next steps in Kenya. As Abraham often quotes, “when you want to run fast, run alone. When you want to run far, run together.” Over the past decade, we have become good at maximizing our time together and play with time at every opportunity. During our recent 4-day trip to the Cowtown Marathon in Ft. Worth, at best we were within an hour of being “on time.” We went into it with no expectations other than to live in the moment, and we availed ourselves of the long weekend without ever becoming bogged down in any other time but our own. By doing so, we maximized the timeless moments where it all clicked and we achieved things that given a thousand years would otherwise have remained among the things not seen or experienced. That is the thing with running fast and far; you reach places that you otherwise could not have dreamed of. Once you untether yourself from time, possibilities open up previously unknown and unfathomed.

Metal trailer for towing by tractor

The capacity of our heavy-duty trailer is about 1,000 cubic feet!

Anyway, after years of effort, we are making tangible progress and this morning during my run on Glorieta Mesa, we messaged via WhatsApp and Abraham shared photos of progress on the trailer and his afternoon purchasing tires and rims from some Kamba guys. The heavy-duty trailer is to be painted to match our tractor the day after tomorrow and will be ready to start hauling building materials as soon as Big Blue arrives.

So, we will depend on Abraham’s brother Daniel to clear the container, along with the buyer of the jeep we are transporting for fare, and the Mombasa-based clearing agent we have hired. Hopefully the truck driver will make it too. Even on those occasions when time plays with us, we do the best we can and will rely on our friends step up, harambee-style. When the time is right, Big Blue will reach Matunget!

Smooth Running,

Joseph Karnes
Race Director

 

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Trailers

Construction of Big Blue’s trailer

One of the many projects Abraham putting in motion during his trip to Kenya is getting a trailer for Big Blue to haul. He concluded that the trailers for sale in Nakuru and Eldoret were not strong enough for our needs –  they might tip over on the rough roads and would break down eventually. So, Abraham decided to have a trailer built. The guys he knows have built lots of custom trailers, and it will take a week, everything brand new and strong and sized just right for our needs.

In response to my questions, Abraham texted me a paraphrase of something that our friend Steve “King of the Mountain” Gachupin shared with us years ago: “we’re making our own trail.” It’s true for us and now that we have a tractor, we will make our own trails, and more, in Abraham’s village on the edge of the Great Rift Valley. I replied “we’re making our own trailer! 😉 ”

Abraham’s debut film

Abraham had his first trailer made by Director Terrence Malik –for the movie Voyage of Time (check out Abraham at the 1:13 mark!) Five years ago, Abraham heard about a local casting call, showed up and next thing he knew was invited to a film shoot that ended up taking place over several months on trips to the White Sands, the badlands west of Socorro, someplace a ways out of Chama and way up in the mountains between Durango and Silverton.

Taking us back in time

Before the shoots, they sent Abraham to Hollywood to be fitted for the most modern prehistoric realistic feet shoes that have ever been made for a Kenyan Olympian to wear on the big screen. I wish I could share a photo, but not only were the custom naked minimalist rides declared top secret, but reports are that Abraham declined to wear them anyway, and opted to shoot his scenes old school style (as in with his own feet). I once saw a photo of the fake feet, but have done my best to forget about it, in light of Abraham’s admonishments about how serious these people are about their creations and the penalties for unmasking his prosthetic rides.

As is turns out, Terrence recruited a tribe’s worth of actors and set out to learn how things would sort themselves out – social evolution on steroids. As Abraham describes it, he hit it off with Terrence and the rest of the crew and as time passed (the movie covering some 4 million years from start to finish), Abraham became recognized as the leader of his tribe. As in real life, Abraham was a warrior and a running messenger, and led his people into the great unknown.

Abraham sounds his grandfather’s Kudu horn

Imagine. Abraham grew up in Matunget on the edge of the Great Rift Valley, with misty equatorial pine forest wilderness all around. One of his earliest memories is of a German paratrooper. Sometimes he would spot parachutes above the edge of the Rift and this time one landed close by. Abraham didn’t understand what the mzungu soldier was saying, but he liked the candy that the soldier gave him and from that moment on wanted nothing less than to fly.

Years later, during his 7 years in the training camp not far from Matunget, Abraham watched Dances with Wolves and wondered about the Native Americans in the movie. He had never heard about these people before and was amazed. And now, after his world travels and races, a decade later, he finds himself living in the Pueblo of Pojoaque with his wife and his children, and working with Native Americans at the Pojoaque Pueblo Wellness Center. Abraham realized that “these people are just like my people!” His indigenous perspective contributed to the creation of Global Running Culture, in recognition of the fact that running is one activity that many cultures share. Since then, we and our families have devoted ourselves to 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.

Our goal is to complete the school before end of year and will be sharing information about our fundraising efforts to facilitate completion of the project. We are 8 years into a journey that is turning into reality in Abraham’s village, advancing an amazing vision and lifelong passion of Abraham’s mum Margaret, which is being carried on by Abraham’s sister Emily. Building a new school in Matunget will spin the wheel that Margaret created even faster, propelling the children of the village on trajectories of hope and opportunity. Thank you for traveling with us on this journey.

Smooth Running,

Joseph Karnes
Race Director

 

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Accelerating

With Abraham’s flight to Nairobi, the pace quickens and the energy multiplies. Big Blue has been traveling east at an average rate of 15 knots, with stops in Miami, France, Malta, and the United Arab Emirates before arriving in Mombasa. The ship carries more than 5,000 containers and generates tremendous momentum as her twin 35,000 hp engines ply the seas.

Abraham’s Etihad jet, cruising at 600 mph, with engines generating over 100,000 hp, leaves in the last week of the container ship’s voyage, makes just one stop in Abu Dhabi, arriving several days ahead of the ship. Being way ahead, Abraham is able to fly from Nairobi to Eldoret, spend time organizing there and then make it to Mombasa in time to meet the ship, clear the container through customs and coordinate loading onto the flatbed truck that he is renting.

Ms. Margaret and her sister, Ms. Tacey

We look forward to reports of Abraham’s progress across Kenya and anticipate the arrival in Matunget. There will certainly be a harambee celebration with singing, feasting, and sharing of stories. Abraham’s grandfather was a leader of his people. His mother, Margaret, has devoted her life to helping the children of Matunget prepare for the long journey ahead. Since he was a boy, Abraham wanted to fly. He would tell anyone who asked what he wanted to do – “I want to fly”. Abraham says “Mom always sent me to the kiosk to buy something. We are 5 in the family. Why me? Because I am quick!” Abraham’s Grampa entrusted him at a young age with messages, which would always be delivered quickly and properly. Margaret could see the way ahead. “Run for me, Abraham. Run for me.” She knew that by running, her son would achieve his dream.

After 7 years at a training camp, Abraham had his chance to fly. He boarded a plane bound for France, ran well in his first cross country race, and accelerated across Europe, Canada and the United States as well as in other races around the globe. Through word of mouth, Abraham arrived in Santa Fe, settled in Pojoaque, became a movie star and now, there he goes! Off on another long distance journey to meet a tractor that will help make dreams come true and build on Margaret’s lifelong passion for educating the children of Matunget by providing a center for learning in a comfortable environment, serving as a magnet for participation and education.

Abraham Kosgei – leader of his people, ‘Voyage of Time’

What a thing for a son to achieve. Returning to his village and bringing friends, along with a 72 hp earth moving machine. Abraham is a Kalenjin warrior who has gone out into the world, been away for years and years, and brings back a true mythical beast, a Ford-blue beast with the power of 72 horses. We are in the business of delivering energy, applying and focusing it to get things done. It will be amazing to see the things Big Blue helps get done. We invite you to come along for the ride!

Smooth running,
Joseph Karnes
Race Director

 

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