Out of Our Control (Serenity Now)

At the end of last week, the day before the Hunter Harrier was to depart Houston with our 40’ shipping container, we received some disturbing news:

Abraham and the students of Matunget outside their school

“Dear Mr. Joseph…checking with the shipping line, they have informed us that your container didn’t sail on the scheduled date, there is a big congestion in Port of Houston… they will be confirming sailing and arriving dates soon…I do apologize for all inconveniences in regards sailing dates for your container…we are trying to get our cargo in a priority list to have containers shipped.”

My first thought was of the Seinfeld scene at the airport car rental desk about taking the reservation: “I know how a reservation works.” “No ya don’t. If ya did, I’d have a car right now.” But quickly my mind turned to the distressing news “we are trying to get our cargo on a priority list.” We went from having a reservation to trying to get on a priority list?! I wrote a relatively restrained response, attempting to achieve some level of certainty to at least inform our next decision.

Monday I was advised: “Shipping line is telling us that there is a serious congestion at Houston port …we have spoken with them already and told them how important is for us to have all our cargo shipped on time, they have set this container in a priority list and… (we) are following up for them to not change the sailing date again.”

Wonderful! Now we ARE on a list, and a priority one at that! That has to mean something; a reason for hope at least. As they say: “we aren’t where we want to be and we aren’t where we should be, but at least we’re not where we used to be!” Being “git ‘er done” kind of people, we struggle to deal with events beyond our control. After 7 years of effort and many setbacks, delays and occasional fiascos, following some venting about being hit with sometimes harsh truth and maybe some bruised feelings, we generally manage to maintain a stoic attitude and don’t let the loss of momentum in one area keep us from turning to other tasks that are more productive for the time being. Reinhold Neibuhr’s Serenity Prayer: “God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, Courage to change the things I can, And wisdom to know the difference” is powerful, especially when considered in the heat of the moment. Avoiding rash action with potentially serious consequences is the best one can hope for when confronted with immutable issues.

So, for now we focus on organizing and preparing:
materials for the 7th running of Santa Fe Thunder
a new Global Footprints youth running camp in Espanola, NM
the 5th annual 3-day indoor soccer camp and the 4th annual 2-day running camp coming up in Pojoaque, NM
preparing to attend the Cowtown Marathon Expo Feb 24 and 27 in Ft. Worth (with a crowd of 70,000 expected!), and
organizing the soon-to-be announced Global Footprints – Project Kenya Harambee to help achieve GRC’s dream of constructing a new head start school in Abraham’s village of Matunget on the 4 acres of land that Global Running Culture purchased on the edge of the Great Rift Valley

There is always resistance to the kind of progress we are intent on making. Headwinds, hills and harsh weather conditions are par for the course. Distance runners, endurance athletes and, indeed, everyone at some point relishes a physical and mental challenge. By repeatedly subjecting ourselves to making progress despite resistance endured over time, our abilities increase and we are able to reach places that previously we could not even see. Having a shipping container stuck at the Port of Houston amidst serious congestion is just another obstacle to be overcome. Another thing about these kind of surprises is that there is generally something to learn from them. As with a lot of things (like buying 30 year old tractors, farming implements and shipping containers), we are rookies at the transoceanic shipping game and have learned several lessons the hard way. Next time, we’ll be prepared to git ‘er done in a fraction of the time, now that we’ve found out a bunch of things not to do!

One of the best things about running is that most of the time we are “changing the things we can”. Running is one of the most proactive things that we can do and the sense of accomplishment is profound. May you enjoy every step of your journey and run far. Going out for a run soon after dealing with difficult news is the best way to process it and get over yourself.

BREAKING NEWS! Our shipping company just advised us that our vessel is under way! We await the bill of lading along with a confirmation of arrival date in Mombasa. We are thankful that the delay is just 2 weeks. Now Abraham can schedule his trip and we can continue to plan and move ahead. We look forward to finding out the name of the ship and tracking her progress from Houston and invite you to do the same! We will also be announcing a contest to guess the arrival time and date at the Port of Mombasa. We have already picked out a special prize for the winner!

Smooth runnings,

Joseph Karnes
Race Director


Shipping Off to Mombasa

The Harriet Hunter – due into the Port of Mombasa on March 18

Our 40-foot shipping container is loaded and locked at the Port of Houston, ready to be hoisted aboard the Harrier Hunter on her voyage to Mombasa, Kenya. Her February 2 scheduled departure marks another milestone of Global Footprints – Project Kenya. On our first trip to the village of Matunget, in 2013, we brought 200 pounds of solar reading lights, school books and supplies, and indestructible soccer balls in our luggage. This time, we are shipping over 11,000 pounds, including a 6,000 lb, 72 hp 1989 Ford 5900 tractor (Big Blue), an 800 lb disc harrow, 100 solar reading lights and 15 boxes of running gear inside our shipping container, which will serve as a 320 square foot steel garage for Big Blue, and the first building on the 4 acres of land Global Running Culture purchased for construction of a new head start school that will serve 75 students aged 4-7. While we appreciate and celebrate each day and each step forward, we recognize this major accomplishment and marvel at the journey to here at the beginning of what promises to be a big year.

In 1967, 2 years after Kenya gained her independence, Abraham’s mom Margaret saw that from a young age, children in the village started working on the family farms as soon as they could lift tools and learn what to do. By the time they qualified to attend the government-funded elementary school, a 6+ mile run or walk away, they were making valuable contributions to the farming effort, and school was often not a priority. The typical student would attend sporadically over a period of years and graduation from elementary school would sometimes be the highest level of academic achievement. She decided to take matters into her own hands and after achieving donation of land by a local farmer and calling for a harambee, she started a school for the young children of the village.

The students of Matunget are in for a big surprise!

Margaret taught her young students the basics, prepared them for elementary school, and instilled early habits that helped generations of students reach higher. The school has achieved amazing results despite limited resources; students’ elementary school test scores rank higher than other rural communities. Constructed on land donated by a neighboring farmer, long before early childhood education was provided outside urban areas, the school has never received government support or been served by electricity. Margaret taught for 4 decades, paid in food from students’ families, and now her daughter Emily, who obtained her teaching certificate, is devoted to her students and to carrying on Margaret’s legacy.

Since our first visit, Global Running Culture has planned to create a new school that will qualify for government support and we are thrilled that Big Blue is on the way. We will use the tractor to build the school and after is is complete, will start a business plowing and preparing fields of local farmers, generating funds to supplement operation of the school and to help support our next project, providing clean, easily accessible water to the village thanks to the efforts of Abraham and our friends at Global Pearls.

The villagers’ commitment to harambee remains strong in Kenya: “we all pull together.” When one family has a project to carry out or needs help, the rest of the village rallies to the cause, providing food, labor and support. Tractors are few and far between in the rural areas of Kenya, and Big Blue and the head start school are our contributions to the harambee that Margaret began half a century ago.

When Abraham obtained the opportunity to attend a training camp that produces some of the fastest distance runners in the world, Margaret told Abraham “run for me.” She knew that his passion for running would carry him far. Abraham has achieved personal success while retaining the passion to help the next generations of children in Matunget benefit from the powers of education and sports. Every Santa Fe Thunder participant and supporter is a member of Global Running Culture’s Harambee. We invite you to follow the journey of Big Blue more than halfway around the world to Mombasa, Kenya and then on to Matunget by truck. Our journey and efforts are not easy, and obstacles arise on a regular basis. But the journey energizes us and we celebrate each step forward. As Abraham says “when you want to run fast, run alone. When you want to run far, run together.” During our first visit, the children of Matunget ran together, with the entire village cheering them on. We look forward to enabling the children to learn together in their new school and to set their sights on achievements that will make their village and the world a better place.

When we travel, soon after we wake up, Abraham often says “another day brother” and I reply “yes, another day.” It helps keep us grounded during fast times and long days. As runners, we know that keeping a steady pace is key, and getting too excited has a tendency to affect our focus and slow us down later on. That doesn’t stop us, though, from recognizing and appreciating accomplishments. We savor every step in our journey and know that sharing milestones and giving thanks energizes us while advancing our cause. These are the first tractor, farming implements, and shipping container we have ever bought and the first time we have shipped anything across oceans. Each item required substantial consideration and effort, and once the Harrier Hunter departs from Houston, I know that we will feel lighter and energized for the next steps. We feel absolutely blessed and joyous to realize that the means of carrying out our dream is soon to be headed around the world – connecting cultures and bringing hope and opportunity to young lives and their village.

By running The Race Different, you support Global Running Culture’s mission. We have enjoyed establishing and growing Santa Fe Thunder over the past 6 years and look forward to sharing our plans to ensure that the 7th running is the best yet! Stay tuned for the developing story of our container’s trip to Matunget, news about the Race, special discounts and insider’s tips on how to make your time in Santa Fe that much more special. Here is one for now – book your pre or post-race outdoor hot tub, massage or dinner at Ten Thousand Waves early, it will be packed on Race weekend!

Smooth runnings,

Joseph Karnes
Race Director





To implement a complex plan like buying a tractor and shipping it to the other side of the World, along with everything we can think of to fill up our shipping container, many different pieces need to come together. We have 15 boxes of shoes, clothing, and 100 solar reading lights here in Santa Fe ready to ship to our shipping broker’s yard in Houston. The tractor is ready to be trucked from Louisiana to Houston. I am set to buy the container and have it delivered to the yard. The missing link has been the tractor implements needed to prepare the school site for construction and the ag business we will create once the school is built to generate income for the school.


Wanted: Bottom disc plow

Over the past few weeks, we searched for implements on several fronts without much success. Our tractor seller, Fred Perritt, from Machinery Sales, Inc. of Rayville, LA, looked around for us and couldn’t find any near his place, and they are far more challenging to locate on the internet than tractors – especially a single resource offering multiple implements in the vicinity of Houston.

We are in the market for a bottom disc plow, a disc harrow and a seed planter. I have been watching Youtube videos about implements, spent much of my Thanksgiving holiday searching on the internet (Edited by Carolyn: ‘TRUE!”), and have met several times with Abraham. We need to get the right items within our budget and get them to Houston. I have learned that corn planting in the vicinity of Houston is not a big activity, resulting in challenges on the seed planter front.


WANTED: Corn planter

Abraham and I look forward to a long run in our wilderness office this Sunday to finalize our selections, make the purchase, and then hit the “play” button on our remote to start the 10,000+ mile show! We look forward to shifting our focus to finalizing the school construction plan for next Spring.

Asante sana (many thanks) to all who are sharing our journey to achieve Abraham, and Global Running Culture’s, dream of providing the children of Matunget, and children in our target communities, with opportunities to better their lives through the powers of sport and education! During this holiday season, we give thanks for the ability to pay forward the helping hands that have propelled us forward to make the most of our journeys.

Smooth Running,

Joseph and Carolyn Karnes and Abraham Kosgei

A Tractor for Matunget


Our amazing Ford tractor, soon on its way to Kenya

After this year’s Santa Fe Thunder, we were determined to purchase the tractor. Thanks to another successful race, all lights were green and it was time to take action. In 2014, Global Running Culture purchased 4 acres of land in Abraham’s village of Matunget, perched above the Great Rift Valley. Since then we have focused on our plan, including purchasing a tractor with which to build the school and thereafter generate income for school operations and to prepare for construction.

Over a weekend I researched over 500 tractors potentially fitting our bill. We honed our efforts on our exact need – a Ford or Massey-Ferguson +/- 30 years old, +/- 75 hp with low hours on the engine. After narrowing it down to 3, the next day Fred Perritt , owner of Machinery Sales, Inc. in Rayville, LA and I agreed on sale of a 1989 Ford 5900 72 hp tractor with only 2,000+ hours on the original engine. Fred has helped GRC by replacing a cut rear tire, welding weight holders onto the front, replacing the seat, and preparing his crew to drive the tractor to Houston for shipping (on a truck, naturally).

Abraham and students

Abraham Kosgei talking to students in front of the existing school

At the moment, we are in the middle of an online auction for shipping of a 20’ container to Mombasa, and then on to Eldoret (the largest town near Matunget) via truck; Abraham’s brother Daniel will facilitate transport once the tractor clears customs. Once the tractor ships out from Houston, we will be able to focus on plans for construction of the school next Spring. Once the container arrives in Matunget, it will be installed to serve as a secure garage for the tractor.

Our regular Sunday runs, mostly in the Sangre de Cristo Mountains, afford ample opportunity to advance our multiple causes. We meet a good half hour before first light, enter the wilderness, enjoy peak experiences while catching up and discussing the issues of the day in as much detail as we desire, and to apply the craft that we each have pursued for more than 90 percent of our lives. Our adventures are fun and always energizing.

This morning, we climbed the knife-edge ridges above Nambe Lake with plenty of exposure while addressing the multiple trajectories we are living and advancing. I smiled to myself while avoiding terminal descents and refrained from mention of any negativity. When a peak experience is being had, it is fundamental that we commit to 100% elevated discussion. After all, we are professionals and this is our office.

Students in school room

Students in the existing school, with GRC donated solar lights from Unite to Light.

So, where we are right now is that the tractor is soon to be shipped to Kenya. That will set into play a series of events that will change the lives of many. Global Running Culture has dedicated countless hours to this effort and we are elated to see tangible progress realized. We invite each of you who have read this far to join our journey.

To catch up on the backstory, check out our blog and if you would like to make a donation or share the journey by getting involved, please email us at info@santafethunder.com. We thank Global Pearls, Inc. for its generous donation towards the tractor!

Smooth Runnings,

Joseph and Carolyn Karnes, and Abraham Kosgei

Race Welcome!

Here is an email we just sent out to all registered entrants with important news about race weekend. We hope you will be able to join us! You can enter now, just click REGISTER above!

Welcome to The Race Different! We work year round to make Santa Fe Thunder a unique event worthy of its special setting and look forward to sharing our creation with participants and their families and friends. Santa Fe Thunder -11-2214x1474

The Race Weekend Guide has all of the relevant information we can think of. We are excited to share the maps that most-talented Derek Wiles has created. If you still have a question that isn’t answered in those resources, then please contact us at info@santafethunder.com. Be sure to read all the way to the end and find out about the new start time for this year!


Gathering of Messengers Global Running Culture and Buffalo Thunder Resort & Casino will be presenting a pasta dinner Saturday evening from 6-8 outdoors in the finish line area at Buffalo Thunder. All proceeds will be donated to the Pojoaque Pueblo Youth Hoop Dancers and the Pojoaque Boys & Girls Club. Dinner tickets are $20.

The event will be emceed by Mark Bravo, Ambassador to the Running Community, will include a talk by guest of honor Peter Koech, one of the grandfathers of Kenyan running in New Mexico and a video presentation honoring of Valentino “Lightning Boy” Rivera. Tickets are limited and will sell out quickly. Click here to reserve your seats for this special event that will help many children in the local area. There will be fireworks after the gathering!

Packet Pickup Buffalo Thunder finish line area – Noon to 4:00 Saturday 9/17. Register for the race, pick up your bib and T-shirt, shop for handmade Rarámuri and Kenyan arts and crafts, last minute running gear needs at the Bosque Running Shop tent, discover unique running-related items and meet former Road 10K World Record Holder Arturo Barrios, listen to world music and experience a collaboration of craftsmen – Fred Coen, master sandalmaker and Juan Rico, Rarámuri ultramarathoner and huarache-maker will share techniques, carry out demonstrations and take orders for running huaraches! Abraham and I have been running in ours regularly and have subjected them to the most challenging southern Rocky Mountain conditions. They are simply incredible and become more comfortable with every run. This is an occasion not to be missed.

Tractor Pull Having purchased 4 acres of land in Abraham’s village, and partnered with an architect and a builder, Global Running Culture is preparing to acquire a tractor that will be shipped to Mombasa and then transported to Matungen. We will use the tractor to build the school and then use it as part of an enterprise that will generate operating funds for the school.

We seek donations to help us acquire the tractor and ship it to Kenya and are thankful for each donation regardless of size. For those able to contribute $100 or more, we will reserve a pre-race dinner seat at the World Record holders’ table of either Peter Koech or Arturo Barrios. Please send an email to info@santafethunder.com. We are planning to build the school in the near future and will be able to make the trip of a lifetime available for a small group of Global Running Culture Charter Donors. We will be happy to provide more information.

Start Time This year 22 school buses will transport half marathoners from Buffalo Thunder to Fort Marcy starting at 5:30 AM and last bus leaving at 6:30, with some buses making 2 round trips. After 5 years of effort and experience (and recommendations from you!), we have decided to start this year’s race at 7:30 AM – a half hour earlier than in the past. We believe the extra early morning effort will result in a better experience for all, and are aware that it will take everyones’ focus and cooperation to achieve another successful start! Please plan to arrive early, check out the maps and be ready to turn left on the Frontage Road before you get to the roundabout!

Also, we are excited to announce that the starting line has been relocated from the Fort Marcy Baseball Field parking lot to Old Taos Highway, thereby eliminating the two 90º turns in the first quarter mile. As in past years, runners will stage in the parking lot, and will be led across the footbridge to the starting line 15 minutes before the start by Kalenjin warrior Abraham Kosgei.

We will appreciate your efforts, patience and understanding as we embark on this experiment. If necessary, we will hold the start to allow the runners on the last bus to make it. As one of my old running clubs, the Aggies, used to say “the faster we run, the sooner the fun! Plow, plow plow.”

We urge you to check out the Thunder Blog before race weekend. We share our journey and tell the stories of some of the running messengers we have met along the way. We realize that The Race Different carries with it responsibilities and work year round to be more prepared and each year incorporate new features.

We are honored to have enjoyed a 5-year collaboration with a group of Rarámuri runners and artisans from Copper Canyon, Mexico. The group is preparing to return this year, however the change in government from one partido to another has presented serious bureaucratic obstacles, a new one arising each time another is resolved. We hope that they will make it again and that each of you will have the opportunity to meet these wonderful people and perhaps take home a memento of their culture.

We will be sharing more stories between now and race weekend. Keep up to date by liking us on Facebook and checking out the Thunder Blog.

Smooth Running,

Joseph Karnes
Race Director

Bringing the Message

For untold centuries long distance communications throughout the Southwest, Mexico, Central and South America were carried by running messengers, who dedicated their lives to this critical role. They knew the secret ways and could cover vast distances, finding their counterparts and spreading the word.

An ancient internet connecting clans, neighbors and villages. The messengers were the story tellers, bringing the news from places near and far. Their trade was information and their mission vital to the people.

petroglyph runner

Petroglyph of a runner, found in Galisteo Basin, Santa Fe

In 1680, two young messengers from Tesuque Pueblo, Catua and Omtua, carried a message some 27 miles to a village south of Santa Fe, evading the Spanish soldiers along the way. They received an unexpected response and knew what they had to do – run back to Tesuque as fast as they could. Upon delivering the message and confirming to the chief the critical success of the mission, they fell into a deep sleep. Not long after, Spanish soldiers arrived and before the Pueblo Revolt caused the Spanish to flee from the land, they became martyrs. A monument to their heroism telling the story stands in the Catua and Omtua Plaza of the Santa Fe Convention Center. Word of the coming battle was carried as far as the lands of the Hopi in northern Arizona, who cast the Spanish missionaries out from their lands, at least, once and for all.

Stories of running messengers exist in all cultures. Until recently, the entirety of our history, information and news existed only in the mind and was passed on by word of mouth. As cultures grew and their territories expanded, connections became more tenuous, held together by footsteps across the land, sometimes on dangerous missions. Messengers who could pass by unseen, like Catua and Omtua, continued their journey and spread the word into the future.

Imagine the societal investment in each running messenger’s knowledge and ability to swiftly cover long distances. The leaders relied on them and reliable messengers’ fame spread along with their stories and deeds. It was on the plains of Marathon that Athenian soldier Phidippides famously delivered a message of victory over the Persian Army and a warning of approaching Persian ships – and then perished from exhaustion. His story is celebrated by footraces held every weekend around the world!

Before the first running of Santa Fe Thunder, I pulled out a book from my library that I had not opened since reading it in 1982. Indian Running, by Peter Nabokov, tells the story of runners from Taos and other northern New Mexico Pueblos who celebrated the Tricentennial of the Pueblo Revolt with a running relay all the way to Hopi. The first photo in the book is a petroglyph of a running messenger “in the Galisteo Basin.” I was floored – the running man is about 10 miles from my house!

This year’s T-shirt, designed by Carolyn Karnes, features the Galisteo Running Man and honors all running messengers, including each participant in The Race Different. We are all messengers, whether we run or not, and share the wisdom of our ancestors as best we can with our families, peers, and most importantly with the next generation.

We are blessed in New Mexico to be surrounded by ancient footpaths. A few years ago, hearing my story, a friend told me that she knew of a running man petroglyph atop a mesa a couple of miles above her home near Taos. I took the next opportunity to visit her and she pointed up, saying “you will find it if you are meant to.” I ascended the mesa, which turned out to have a large top, and wondered whether I would find it. I kept the faith and suddenly was brought to a standstill by not one, but 3 running messengers etched into a rock! Climbing the highest point in the area, I looked north toward Taos and south to Santa Fe and imagined how many generations of runners had worn the paths that I stumble upon regularly during my cross country explorations. Hundreds upon hundreds left their footsteps across the land, occasionally along with a sign assuring future messengers that they are on the right path.

Taos became famous for its its end of summer mountain rendezvous more than a century ago. Santa Fe Thunder is a modern day rendezvous for running messengers from around the world, including this year’s honoree, Peter Koech. By participating, you add your footsteps to the ancient path north from Santa Fe, homelands of the Tesuque People. You will run behind (most of you!) world class runners from Kenya, Ethiopia and other far away lands, and perhaps alongside Rarámuri ultramarathoners and runners from across the country. We invite you to share this special time with one another and be inspired by your experience to continue your journey ahead. ¡Vamanos!

Smooth running,

Joseph Karnes
Race Director


Global Running Culture Making Strides

Santa Fe Huaraches© combine ancient design and modern minimalist running technology

Sometimes a catalyst appears from the clear blue sky at the perfect moment. A few weeks ago, my good friend Fred Maas emailed me with the news that he was headed out to pick up a pair of custom leather running huaraches (sandals) handmade by Fred Coen. It didn’t take me long to meet Fred and it’s been off to the races since then.

Fred Coen

Master craftsman, Fred Coen, Sandalmaker Extraordinaire

Fred is a leather craftsman who has studied around the world and is a Board Certified Pedorthist and Reflexologist. Now living and working in his Santa Fe studio, Fred has several early 20th century shoemaking machines, including some made by the Rapid Shoe Machine Mfg. Co. out of New York, NY. He has a vast array of leatherworking tools, voluminous hides of leather, along with hundreds of foot casts for making custom shoes and orthotics.

Informed by countless miles of experience, Fred has taken ancient sandal designs and using modern technology and materials, including Vibram soles and cutting edge biodynamic concepts, creates phenomenal running huaraches that are works of kinetic art. To Fred, “biodynamics means that we’re getting feedback constantly from the Earth toward the goal of balancing all of our bodily systems in a combined microcosm and macrocosm within the universe, that works harmoniously to achieve a synthesis of movement supporting optimal health.”

Describing the primary purpose of his minimal running sandals that are molded to the natural arches and contours of the feet, Fred says “walking and running are all about making us stronger and healthier. The ergonomically designed running sandals, with contoured foot beds protect the feet, allowing for a complete range of motion. They are like giant callouses protecting the soles of the feet.”

As mentioned here, Champion Rarámuri ultramarathoner Juan Rico, his daughter Luz, and their amiga Silvia are scheduled once again travel from Copper Canyon to participate in this year’s Santa Fe Thunder along with a group of Tarahumara artisans. Juan is an expert huarache-maker and we are planning demonstrations involving Fred, Juan, and a moccasin-maker from Jemez Pueblo, during Saturday’s Global Running Festival and during Sunday’s post-race fiesta at Buffalo Thunder. We look forward to seeing what kind of collaboration develops and how the design, technique and artistry of different cultures will blend together to further enhance the biodynamic performance of the running huaraches.

This meeting and collaboration will bring to life, in real time, the essence of the global running culture and we invite you to participate and perhaps order your own pair of Santa Fe Huaraches©

In creating Global Running Culture, we recognized that by learning the stories and studying the footsteps of those who came before, we are able to accelerate our own journeys and run far together. We are running messengers, part of an ancient order of warriors. We are currently planning the next Global Footprints program that will involve teaching local youth to make running huaraches for themselves and children in Global Running Culture’s three program areas: northern New Mexico, the village of Matungen, Kenya and Copper Canyon, Mexico. Our goal is to help children accelerate their footsteps toward brighter futures through healthy active lifestyles and learning marketable skills. Just as we have been swept up in the draft of those who ran before, we create our own tribe and our growing strength in numbers creates opportunities to share the fruits of our labor and to spread the word farther.

Pumpkin and Joseph

GRC mascot Punkin’s paws, and Santa Fe Huarache© paws

If you are interested in obtaining your own pair of custom Santa Fe Huaraches© handmade by Fred Coen, visit his site at fredcoen.com. Stay tuned for updates about race weekend activities including the Global Running Festival and packet pickup event Saturday, and the pre-race dinner Saturday evening at Buffalo Thunder as well as the post-race fiesta at Buffalo Thunder.

Last weekend I broke in my pair with 5.5 hours of running in the Sangre de Cristo wilderness including several hours’ worth of rocky, steep and technical terrain. They performed like champions and until winter is here, I will be running in nothing other on my feet than my pair of 6 oz (!) foot protectors. Many thanks, Fred Maas for introducing us. Let’s all go for a run soon!

Smooth Running,

Joseph Karnes
Race Director

Rarámuri Return to Santa Fe

Juan Rico 1

Juan Rico Leon Martinez & Silvia Castillo Ramirez at the starting line – 2015 Santa Fe Thunder

Juan Rico is coming! Father, farmer, and elite ultradistance runner, Juan will once again lead the Rarámuri (aka Tarahumara) running and artistic cultural exchange delegation, which has been an integral part of Santa Fe Thunder and Global Running Culture’s “Global Footprints – Project Copper Canyon” for the past 5 years.

The Rarámuri have been known for their endurance since they avoided the Spanish by losing them in the 6,000’ deep Cañon de Cobre four centuries ago. Actually, Copper Canyon consists of 6 river canyons, each with their own character and 7,000 – 8,000 foot high lands in between. It is a vertical land with pine trees and winter snows on top and a desert with occasional incongruous tropical oases at the bottom.

Depending on the season, Rarámuri farmers run, mostly vertically, often substantial distances. With crops at multiple elevations, tending to business is a full time job. As in Kenya and other places renowned for their runners, the Rarámuri grow up running up and down. Not surprisingly, the favorite sport involves running – flinging a wooden ball with exposed toes around a cross country route several to many miles in length for a day or two – Rarahipa. Wagering is involved…

I had the good fortune to make 2 extensive trips to the bottom of Copper Canyon in the early ‘90s, and moreover to meet Alma Solis 5 years ago. Alma is a warm and knowledgeable person who “get’s things done!” When it comes to interactions between New Mexico and Chihuahua, Alma’s involvement is vital.

Juan Rico on the course

Juan Rico on the course

Working with the Sister Cities International as Albuquerque Chair and as a general liaison, Alma maintains close relations with leaders in northern New Mexico, Chihuahua, la Sierra Tarahumara and points in between. In 2013, it was one of the great thrills of my life to organize a week trip to Chihuahua and Copper Canyon with Alma, Abraham, 5 volunteers and 700 pounds of daypacks filled with school supplies donated by Billy Mills’ foundation Running Strong for American Indian Youth, sports equipment including 10 One World Futbols, and educational materials.


Silvia on the course

We made the most of our short time in Chihuahua. Alma involved us with a menudo breakfast for 200 Tarahumara university students at the University of Chihuahua celebrating opening of a new dormitory. The breakfast was held at the Arena Coliseo, where lucha libre takes place. After breakfast, there were wrestling exhibitions and Santa Fe Thunder Transportation Director Jeff “Pantera Azul” and me, “El Mosca del Norte”, wrestled and ultimately prevailed over two professional luchadores. Such is the power of Alma.

We spent the rest of the week at Margarita’s Pension in Creel. Much the same as 25 years ago when I was there last, only bigger and in the same state of on-going construction as I remembered, Margarita and Alma are compañeras. We carried out 2 days of programs in the village of Cusarare, including a race for every child we could find, soccer clinics, nutrition classes, and distribution of the items that we brought.

Alma has dedicated her life to helping people in need from her land, and Global Running Culture is proud to be a part of her whirlwind. During race weekend, you will have the opportunity to meet the Rarámuri ambassadors , run with them and purchase handmade items including baskets, bowls, the famous running huaraches clothing and other unique items. We are blessed by the opportunity to make a difference in the lives of communities where running is a vital part of the culture. By participating in Santa Fe Thunder, you empower our efforts while creating a unique and special gathering and race that you will not soon forget.

Smooth running,

Joseph Karnes
Race Director


Lightning Boy

danceValentino Tzigiwhaeno (“Lightning”) Rivera connected with every person he met. Being a lightning boy, it came naturally to him. Valentino could run like the wind and would launch himself into every challenge, but his true love was dancing. Son of former Pojoaque Pueblo Governor George Rivera and Felicia Rosacker Rivera, Valentino was born into a family living a healthy active lifestyle.

Valentino danced constantly, expressing himself and radiating the vast energy within. Meeting 7-time World Hoop Dancing Champion Nakotah LaRance, and Nakotah’s Coach and Father Steve, expanded Valentino’s world. Along with his friends, the Pojoaque Pueblo Youth Hoop Dancers learned from the best and performed throughout New Mexico, Arizona, California and Hawaii, and in 2014, they toured Europe for 3 weeks, with performances in Florence, Italy; Paris and La Rochelle, France; and Geneva, Switzerland.

In March of 2015, tragedy struck when a driver suffered a fatal heart attack and crashed into the vehicle in which Valentino and his sister Paloma were passengers. She emerged with a broken arm. Valentino suffered severe and life threatening traumatic brain and spinal injuries. He was airlifted from Espanola to Albuquerque and miraculously, following 14 hours of surgery, Valentino survived.

However, after recovering from the initial trauma, Valentino faced a long recovery at the Kennedy Krieger Institute in Baltimore, MD. Over the next 14 months, he endured 21 operations and persevered through countless hours of physical, occupational and speech therapy. On May 13, 2016, 8 year old Valentino passed away at home surrounded by his family.

To honor Valentino’s memory and warrior spirit, George and Felicia have created the Valentino Rivera Memorial Fund with the goal of removing barriers for, and providing opportunities to, New Mexico’s youth in pursuing their dreams in the arts, sports, education and rehabilitation therapies. Global Running Culture is honored to support the Riveras’ efforts:

lightning boy portraitTeam Lightning Boy  Felicia and George, accompanied by several family members, will run the Santa Fe Thunder Half Marathon wearing the Lightning Boy T-shirt, and Aunt Priscilla Moya and several cousins will run the Lightning 5K. You can join Felicia, George or Priscilla and receive a special entry discount provided by Global Running Culture. In addition to the official race T-shirt, you will receive your own Lightning Boy T-shirt, and a $10 donation will be made to the Valentino Rivera Memorial Fund. For more information and to sign up, click here.

Donations to the Valentino Rivera Memorial Fund  If you are not able to participate, but would like to honor Valentino and support the Riveras’ efforts to help challenged youth achieve their dreams, you can donate directly to the Valentino Rivera Memorial Fund by mailing a contribution to Felicia Rivera at 31 Turtle Circle Santa Fe, NM 87506.

Thank you for being a part of The Race Different and for helping the Lightning Boy’s memory live on.

Smooth Running,

Joseph Karnes
Race Director

Legendary Advice

“Stay in shape” and do “plenty of footwork.” Those were the last two tips that Muhammad Ali gave to his grandson Nico. Tremendous advice, both. Recently, I took Bummer, my 14-year-old yellow Lab retired running companion, to the vet. He suffers from arthritis in his hind legs and has difficulty getting up. I asked whether walks are advisable or whether they’d do more harm than good.

bummer bandana

Bummer doing his cross-country thing

“If he wants to go, take him! His muscles are what is keeping him going. If he stops moving, then he will decline much faster.” Of course, it is true. Bummer and I have run thousands of miles together and his muscles are able to continue doing their job, even when ligaments and bones have worn down. His spirit is resolute as always, and he has developed quick feet – double timing it up front to keep time with his back end. He retains his grace and the amazing ability to pivot and invariably miss, by the slightest of margins, any wall, table or other impediment.

If you do something thousands upon thousands of times, it becomes second nature. Muscle memory, a conditioned set of lungs, and a good attitude enable us to achieve far more than we previously imagined possible. What was once a dream becomes routine and we know what we can do. I run 3 hours, slow, cross country-style in the wilderness every Saturday and Sunday, usually with several thousand feet of elevation gain and loss between 7,000’ and 12,500’ elevation.

'81 San Francisco Half

A 2:30:43 finish for Joseph Karnes, 16 years old, at the 1981 San Francisco Marathon

During the 20 or so years of my competitive career, I refrained from allowing myself to get out of shape. I was lucky to suffer relatively few injuries, but those recoveries embedded in me a refusal to allow myself to lose my fitness. I would laugh and say “its too hard to get in shape. If I had to do it again, I very well might not make it!”

Of course, the time finally came when I let myself go and stopped competing. That transition was a few years in coming and it took me a few more to come to grips with it. My fundamental identity evaporated in proportion to the expansion of my “stylish pot.” It has only been since moving to New Mexico a decade ago that I’ve regained my rhythm. Now, at 50, 6 hours of running in a weekend is typical and thanks to my Sunday runs with Abraham Kosgei, I am even getting my wheels back. But that is not my point. Now I pursue the spirit of adventure and play in the mountains like I did as a child.

Getting fit is hard. Staying fit is not nearly as difficult on the body, mind or spirit. The Champ said “Stay in shape”. Getting in shape is on you. Not even the Greatest can get you in shape – you have to do that yourself. But once you get in shape, apart from setbacks, the right attitude and a not-nearly-as-challenging degree of effort will keep you there.

Miles in the bank. With my standard solid base and some kind of recent speedwork, even if I wasn’t in top condition, I was confident I could at least “fake it” through any competitive race up to a half marathon. You don’t fake a marathon, running for time or to finish. Apart from that, thousands and thousands of miles in the bank will get you through. You know that you can make it. In those days, the question was how fast? Now, it is how much time do I have today? And how much wilderness am I prepared to bite off?

“Stay in shape” and do “plenty of footwork.” What better advice could a grandfather give to his grandson? And what a wonderful thing for that grandson to share it with the world. Muhammad’s daughter said that his heart kept beating for a half an hour after the rest of his body shut down. Ali is the G.O.A.T. because he followed his own advice.

Smooth Running,