What an Athlete Looks Like


Chloe aboard Yesterday’s Children 1999

My wife Carolyn has more heart than most anyone I know. Being a Jersey Girl for starters, she has always followed her own path, while remaining close to her family and friends. In the early days of the tech boom, she headed west in a packed car with her 70-pound yellow lab Chloe to start a new chapter in San Francisco. When the boom prevented her from finding an apartment that allowed pets, she bought an old wooden boat, moored in a marina on the San Francisco Bay, to live aboard. We met at that marina, and I eventually bought and moved aboard my own boat, which became our boat, Tempus Fugit. Time Flies: a reminder and a portent.

It was during this time that Carolyn became rapidly unwell. She read voluminously, and listened to her body, and approached a doctor with a proposed diagnosis. The doctor rejected it out of hand. And so she pushed and pushed some more, found a doctor who listened and trusted her judgment, and would do more tests. For better or worse, her self-diagnosis was correct, and while the prognosis wasn’t terminal, it was progressively disabling, and incurable.


Joseph and Carolyn at the finish line 2014

That was 2001. Looking back, it is hard to believe that 15 years have passed. Two trips to Italy, including a marathon in San Marino where I proposed at the finish, happy years in a house in Japantown, San Jose, and Carolyn receiving her BFA in Photography. Then, a jump sideways to Santa Fe, followed 8 months later by the birth of our daughter, and the formation of a law firm, Sommer Karnes & Associates, LLP. In 2011, Global Running Culture and Santa Fe Thunder were launched, and all the while, we were doing our best to enjoy the ride.

Last year, Abraham and I attended the Oklahoma City Memorial Marathon Expo, where we met Mark Bravo, a truly amazing individual. Mark is a coach, sports commentator, author and phenomenal motivator. We spent as much time as possible getting to know Mark, and I cannot recommend his book, Momentum highly enough.

During our conversation, I told Mark about Carolyn’s every day challenges, and realized how tough it must be to make it through the day when your batteries run low after each effort, fatiguing body and mind. Mark got excited (which he often is) and spoke of what a great athlete Carolyn is! While I go out and run for two or three hours every weekend morning, Carolyn’s workouts last all day, everyday. Her effort, commitment, toughness, and heart are the same as any champion athlete. As Mark says “exercise is essential, as much for the mind as the body. It’s not to do a lot, seldom; instead do something often”. Carolyn exercises a whole lot more than I do.

The youngest member of Santa Fe Thunder's Team Karnes 2014

The youngest member of Santa Fe Thunder’s Team Karnes 2014

She is also our webmaster, designer, bookkeeper, product and supply procurer, and generally the backbone of Global Running Culture. Without her efforts, we would fall flat on our faces, likely sooner rather than later. She also runs a non-profit that she started with her mother called Women Incorporated, which works with women artists in New Mexico.

How special it is that Carolyn enables so many runners from around the country, and the world, to run a half marathon in our hometown, including Sydney and her grandmother, who have done the Lightning 5K together for the past 3 years!

Mark signed off a recent email with a request – “And please remind Carolyn she’s a consummate ATHLETE!” Thanks to you, Mark, I do remind her, and myself, and am thankful that our long distance journey together has led us to the foot of the Rocky Mountains, the City Different, and the Race Different.

Smooth running,
Joseph Karnes
Race Director

It’s All About the Stories

Abraham in Sedona, AZ

Abraham Kosgei in Sedona, AZ

One of the best things about running is the stories. What a premium use of time – creating new stories while sharing others along the way, and having plenty of time to let your mind wander! Running is the time to open our minds and extend and expand our journeys and bonds.

The stories are the heartbeat of the people. They are passed along from messenger to messenger, some repeated, spreading across the land according to their value and vision. For a message or story to be relayed across long distances and generations is a special gift. To tell such a story is an honor. To have journeyed with others whose own stories are legend, and to have helped them on their way, is a singular experience.

Over the next few months, we will be sharing the stories of friends with whom we share our journeys. Abraham Kosgei’s story is central to Global Running Culture’s existence and mission. Abraham and I started running together some 7 years ago and we have experienced more adventures, challenges, joys and miles than we can share at one sitting.

Of course, it is all one big story that lives in real time for each of us. Sharing stories is dessert, just like going for a run. Catching up, taking care of business, imagining and planning our path forward, and expanding on the various ongoing threads of the common path we are treading. Just recently, we headed toward Sedona, AZ with laughter and excitement about the 7 hours of mostly backroads ahead of us.

Abraham and Randy

Abraham with Santa Fe Thunder Ambassador Randy Brinkley, who is preparing to run his 50th Half Marathon!

We departed from I-25 west at our first opportunity and headed southwest through the Malpais, through the Pueblo of Zuni (home of champion runner Kevin Gia), up to the Painted Desert and south through the Petrified Forest, up to Flagstaff and then down a dark, snowy and windy road into Sedona. A day of celebration, that we followed on Friday with the Sedona Marathon Expo (a top notch destination event!), where we made new friends and caught up with some old ones, including dinner with our amigos from Santa Fe, Armand and Anita. Saturday we headed afield to carry out some research in the Verde Valley for our projects in Kenya, then headed up into the mountains for an overnight visit with family. After a Sunday breakfast, we headed east, into the White Mountains of eastern Arizona and later through the other side of the Malpais.

Joseph in Sedona

Joseph enjoying the beauty of Sedona

We’d love to hear YOUR road trip running stories. Email us at info@santafethunder.com and include a few photos. Three stories will be selected for our Running Road Trip Contest and posted on the Thunder Blog, and our Facebook page. The winner will receive a poster autographed by our friend Olympic Champion Billy Mills, and the other two selected stories will receive a special prize! The winner will determined by a vote based factoring in Likes on the Santa Fe Thunder Facebook page.

Until then, smooth running,

Joseph Karnes
Race Director

Starting Another Journey

Global Running Culture has five years of experience organizing and presenting the Santa Fe Thunder Half Marathon – The Race Different. We have developed a rhythm and approach to improving the events each year, adding new features, spreading the word and growing the enterprise. “Off season” is also when we focus on programming and supporting children in northern New Mexico, the village of Matungen, Kenya and Copper Canyon, Mexico.

Santa Fe Thunder Start 15

Santa Fe Thunder 2015 Half Marathon Start

The 3rd annual free 3-day Pojoaque Youth Soccer Camp was held at the start of Christmas vacation. The Pojoaque Pueblo Wellness Center hosted the event, which featured coaches from Southwest Youth Services in Albuquerque.

Also in its 3rd year is the collaboration between GRC and Running Strong for American Indian Youth. Olympic Gold Medalist Billy Mills is a friend and we are proud to distribute, each year, 100 pairs of running shoes, 100 daypacks filled with school supplies and 100 sets of winter jackets, boots, hats and mittens to children in areas including the northern New Mexico Pueblos of Pojoaque, Tesuque and Jemez, the Hopi Reservation and Copper Canyon, Mexico.

GRC continues to press forward with the school project in Abraham’s village of Matungen, Kenya. GRC completed the purchase of 4 acres of land, has designed the school and has organized a committee in Matungen to see the project through. We look forward to taking major steps forward in 2016.

We are also gearing up for the 6th annual Santa Fe Thunder events. This blog will be a venue for announcements and news as well as information about special things to do in Santa Fe, stories and features on individuals who make Santa Fe Thunder special. We invite you along for the journey!

Smooth running,

Joseph Karnes
Race Director

A Running Messenger is Born


Abraham Inspiring the Children of Matungen

This was written after a run early this summer and shares Global Running Culture’s founder Abraham Kosgei’s early days as a running messenger.

This morning, Abraham and I ran to the cliffs of the Nambe Chutes and climbed to the top, northwest of Nambe Lake on a steep cross country route. We caught up on things while almost exclusively ascending for 2 hours to the top of 12,300’ Deception Peak. We expanded our mutual histories, telling one another some never before shared stories while having a blast.

Abraham’s first experience as a messenger occurred at a young age. He was selected by his family’s elders to deliver an important and time-sensitive message to his Grandfather on the other side of the family, the Chief of the Keiyo. Abraham ran all day, first to his Mum’s house and then on to Grandpa’s, arriving late in the evening.

Abraham explained to me how he delivered the message, telling Grandpa some-time after arriving that he had something to share one to one and delivering the message in private rather than breathlessly blurting it out to everyone upon arrival. Grandpa replied that Abraham must be hungry and they shared a meal while Grandpa told Abraham the message to be carried back the next morning.

Abraham carried out his task and from then on, he was trusted to convey important messages. While still young, facing another serious situation, he was not sent by an Elder, but had to make the decisions about what to do himself and those decisions and delivery of those messages to the right people were critical to maintaining the strength of his Tribe while dealing with adverse news. Such is the life of a running messenger.

Smooth running,

Joseph Karnes
Race Director

Welcome to Our Santa Fe Harambee

2015 Boston Marathon Winner, Caroline Rotich

Welcome to the inaugural Harambee Gala, celebrating the connection of wellness and culture at the Santa Fe Thunder Half Marathon with our guests from New Mexico and around the world! Harambee is Swahili for “we all come together,” which embodies the spirit with which Global Running Culture strives to carry out our mission of bettering the lives of youth through the powers of sport and education in 3 communities where running is a vital part of the culture: northern New Mexico, the village of Matungen, Kenya and Copper Canyon, Mexico. Santa Fe’s unique history, culture and high altitude environment create the perfect setting for a Fall rendezvous, with distance runners joining together during harvest time for a run, a feast and a party that helps children from around the world get a head start on life.Long before horses arrived with the Spanish in the 16th Century, a web of runners carried messages over vast distances across the millennia. Their images are etched in stone – trail markers for those who would follow.

The Raràmuri (aka Tarahumara) Tribe are literally the “people who run.” We are blessed to host a group of Raràmuri runners and artists for the 5th time. The Raràmuri live in one of the most rugged areas in North America, where running remains a primary mode of transportation. The Raràmuri are legendary ultramarathoners and strive to maintain their way of life against many challenges.

The Kalenjin are among the swiftest peoples on Earth. Making up some 13% of Kenya’s 47 Tribes, Kalenjin have set World Records, won Gold Medals and won marathons at an unmatched pace. Global Running Culture co-founder Abraham Kosgei and 2015 Boston Marathon Champion Caroline Rotich have made Santa Fe their home. They blaze a trail for all of us and inspire our next generation to lead healthy active lifestyles.

We all have the opportunity to maximize our own potential. We can do the best we can to be active, eat well, think and act positively and teach our children the best ways to enjoy life. We are all messengers. We carry the messages from our ancestors and pass them on to the next generations. Let us give thanks for our opportunities and contribute the best we can to our collective future.

It’s Bigger Than That


Abraham, Billy Mills, and Joseph at the Heard Museum.

Abraham and I are headed out for a day of meetings tomorrow. We have traveled far together and we know how make the most of our time. Just before Christmas, we drove to Phoenix in December to see Billy and Pat Mills at the opening of the Heard Museum’s year-long exhibit featuring Native American sport and art,

including Billy’s gold medal and one of Pat’s paintings. The week after Christmas, we drove to Moenkopi, Hopi Land for the three day We Run gathering. We cover a lot of ground, on many levels. Discussing the past, present and future, laughing, dreaming, and enjoying the feeling of knowing how far we have come. We have kept up a strong pace for a long time and only gain more as we go and our pack grows.  We are running together farther than we ever imagined and we are accelerating.

After meetings with Pat Melloy, owner of Gold Level sponsor Fiat of Albuquerque , which will provide the official pace car once again this year, and our race registration manager John Savikis in Albuquerque, we are heading out to Jemez Pueblo to see Steve and Bernice Gachupin. We are old friends at this point. We first learned about Steve when we were planning the first half marathon. Through a mutual friend, a meeting was arranged and we headed out early one Saturday morning for a 2 hour run in the mountains north of the Pueblo and then followed the directions to the Gachupins’ house.

We eventually found it and were soon getting to know one another and telling our stories. Of course, the best stories were Steve’s and we spent hours marveling at his achievements and adventures. The first marathon Steve ran in the mid 1960’s was in Denver. He took the Greyhound from Albuquerque, didn’t drink anything the whole race and almost beat the world record holder at the time, Buddy Edelen. The race director told Steve about Pikes Peak and a few months later, Steve took the bus up again and in amazing fashion, ran away with his first of 6 straight victories over the best mountain runners in the Country. His Pike’s Peak stories are a treat to enjoy.

Steve also won the La Luz Trail Run many times. He tells the story of how one year, his car broke down a ways from the start. He showed up late and took off from the start long after the field had left. Steve laughs about how he passed every runner, often “running on the side where there was no trail!” Legendary Coach Joe Vigil who was our honored guest at the inaugural half marathon, said of Steve “the way he was built, Steve could run uphill as fast as he could downhill.”   We went outside and Steve pointed out all the surrounding mountains and how he knows them well and has left his footprints up their ridges and down their valleys.


Joseph with Bernice and Steve Gachupin

We always look forward to seeing Bernice. She has made age-group medals for the race since the inception. Bernice has a pure vision and is a master artist. She made a traditional two-handled wedding vase for Bill and Patricia Mills’ 50th wedding anniversary. We can’t wait to ask Bernice to bless us with the design for the finisher’s medal and the race t-shirt for this year’s race! (ed. note – she said yes!)

We put our all into everything we do and we know how to get things done while moving forward for long periods of sustained focus and effort across long distances. We are running messengers and are in it for the long haul. Often, at the end of a long day Abraham will say “we won the day.” We love to pause a moment and appreciate that it is true. May tomorrow be one of those days.

Smooth running,

Joseph Karnes
Race Director

The Big Picture Part II

Around the turn of the 19th Century, the Spanish Empire receded from the New World and for a time Mexico extended far to the north of its present border. For the previous 200 years, the Spanish and Native Americans had effectively kept the English, French, Americans, Plains Indians and other outsiders out of the Spanish Territory. Trade with peoples to the east was minimal.

New Mexico has been enchanting visitors for centuries

The departure of Spain, followed soon thereafter by the opening of the Santa Fe Trail and connection of trade via El Camino Real, created new trade between America and Mexico City and opened up new paths of communication, with Santa Fe being the point of connection. Electricity in the air is not only a summertime Monsoon phenomena. Connections are made here sometimes out of thin air. The “small world factor”  is not a cliché here, given how often it comes up, it is reality. People come from around the world to visit, and many decide to stay.

Before long, the Americans kicked out the Mexican Government and took over and soon thereafter the Union Army, thanks in large part to the First Colorado Volunteers, defeated the Texans just outside of town in the Battle of Glorieta – the “Gettysburg of the West.”

The coming of the railroad around the 1880’s drew a very specific group to Santa Fe. Thanks to the brisk 7,000 air and dry climate, sufferers of lung disease found new life here at the foot of the Rocky Mountains. In 1910, the treatment regimen at the Sunmount Tent City was based on four major principles, “fresh air, rest, ample food and an optimistic frame of mind.” Add an active lifestyle to the list, and you have Santa Fe today. Some of the revitalized guests stayed and headed out into the land. They were artists and storytellers and together shaped the future of Santa Fe, to the eternal gratitude of us all (some of these celebrated Santa Feans created the first historic preservation ordinance, which saved the character and history of old Santa Fe).

Lungers’ (those who came to New Mexico for tuberculosis treatment) sometimes stayed.

With the sanitariums, before the coming of modern America, different cultures seeking wellness connected to the local culture once again and the energy of that meeting continues to pulse in Santa Fe to this day. This blog will tell the story of how a small group of runners from around the world found each other here.

To start with, Abraham Kosgei, from Matungen, Kenya via France, Portugal, Vancouver, Canada and since 2005, Pojoaque, NM, and Joseph Karnes from Santa Monica, CA via Anaheim, Humboldt County, the Dominican Republic, Carmel Valley, CA, Bethel, AK, San Jose and since 2006, Santa Fe. The growing family of volunteers, supporters and participants in this work of passion and celebration will add their own stories, and we look forward to hearing yours.

Global Running Culture was created with the mission of improving the lives of youth through the powers of sport and education. GRC carries out programs in 3 communities where running is a vital part of the culture – northern NM and Arizona, Abraham’s village – Matungen, Kenya, and Copper Canyon, Mexico. The Race enables GRC to carry out programs that we look forward to sharing with you.

We are all on the adventure of a lifetime and the concept of Harambee brings us together. The celebration of communal gatherings is enriched by participants and representatives of the cultures who participate. The Santa Fe Thunder Half Marathon brings the footsteps of many cultures to join in the spirit of wellness and celebrate the unique culture of Santa Fe and northern New Mexico. Wellness and culture are brought together once again. We look forward to weaving our stories together with yours, and creating new ones.

Smooth running,

Joseph Karnes
Race Director

The Big Picture

Rio Grande Valley in Winter

The area that would come to be known as Santa Fe has been a home of wellness for centuries. Long before the Spanish arrived in the early 16th Century and established El Camino Real (the Royal Road between Mexico City and Santa Fe), the Tesuque Pueblo encompassed the area, and others inhabited it before them. The Santa Fe River, several thousand  feet of relief up to well above timberline, and the nearby Rio Grande, create a 7,000’ high abode, above the desert to the south and below the high mountains to the north and east.

Santa Fe has always been at the end of the trail – since establishment of El Camino Real, anyway. Long before that, Chaco Canyon, Mesa Verde, Bandelier and the local Pueblos (including Ogha Po’oge, long before Santa Fe was established in 1610) were parts of an expansive culture, with regular communications taking place throughout the southwest, and what is now Mexico, Central and South America. The messages were carried by a special group of people.

In every pueblo and village, and in places in between, lived running messengers. Being a lifelong link in the world wide web of long ago was a dream job! To perform such a critical role meant being able to traverse the longest of distances when necessary, amazing memorization skills, being trusted implicitly with sometimes vital information and membership in a long line of messengers. They were a fraternity of brothers, intimately familiar with events within and outside their local area and often having to traverse unseen past others. They were Warriors and lived in the present, fully committed to their responsibilities.

The running class told the stories and shared the legends of the people. They also learned stories of people far away. They were mobile encyclopedias for hundreds of years, compiling a library of knowledge about their world, about the places they came to know, directly or by word of mouth. They also knew the old, seldom visited paths of the ancient peoples. They lived here then as we live here now, and one of our favorite things is to discover the ancient paths and to follow them. We carry messages too and running the old paths and making our own trails helps us to see the way forward.

Sunrise over Santa Fe

The main trail north of Santa Fe is our course. The Old Taos Highway. Passing by the Santa Fe Opera, through the village of Tesuque and by the Tesuque Village Market (where local musicians and belly dancers have been known to appear), past Camel Rock, through the Pueblo of Tesuque, and finishing in the Pueblo of Pojoaque at the Buffalo Thunder Resort & Casino. People have walked, run, ridden and driven this route for centuries and before every Easter, pilgrims follow this route to Pojoaque and then turn east, with the Santuario de Chimayó as their destination.

The views from the course of the Sangre de Cristo and Jemez Mountains, with the red rock Rio Grande Valley in between, as the road gradually descends 1,300’ to the finish, span a distance of some 35 miles east to west, and on a clear day one can see San Antonio Mountain, 9 miles south of the Colorado state line.

Welcome to the Global Running Culture!

Starting line - 9/14.

Joseph and Kalenjin warrior Abraham, at the start of Santa Fe Thunder 2014

The purpose of this blog is to share our journeys with you, and for you to share yours with us. The Global Running Culture volunteers who make the events happen put their passion into sharing Santa Fe and ensuring that each of you has a fun, memorable and safe race. For those involved in the Global Running Culture organization, the 5th running of the Santa Fe Thunder is the next step in journeys that began in vastly different places and joined together in Santa Fe almost a decade ago. We are all messengers, and the stories and the messages we receive and carry forward blend together.

We’ll post information about the race and Santa Fe, provide tips to help you prepare for race weekend, and invite you to share your stories, what inspires you, the messages you have to share, and what attracts you to Santa Fe.

Our stories are tangled and span many miles. We love to run and we recognize our role as messengers. One time in front of his house, our good friend from Jemez, Steve “King of the Mountain” Gachupin, pointed out the mountains he had run up, as far as they eye could see. “I run with my 2 dogs and make my own trail. I don’t follow nobody.”

Blazing a trail is a life’s work, and going together makes the journey easier. Abraham Kosgei says “when you want to go fast, go alone. When you want to go far, go together.” Harambee is Swahili for “we all come together” or “let’s pull together” and describes acts of community. Our race, and Global Running Culture’s programs in northern New Mexico, Arizona, the Village of Matungen, Kenya, and Copper Canyon, Mexico are all part of our Santa Fe Harambee. We invite you to join us.

Smooth running,

Joseph Karnes

Race Director



Hopi 2014

Indoor Soccer Camp – Pojoaque 2014

Waylon Pahona Says a few words about our race

We were so honored to have Waylon Pahona and many folks from his Healthy Active Natives group at our race. What an inspiration and running with his brother’s staff too. We hope to support his efforts and hope our partnership with him and the HAN group continues to grow. What an amazing messenger.