Race to Benefit Native American Youth Runners Goes Virtual

Announcement from Kerri Cottle Mwangaza Community Outreach and Education Coordinator and Abraham Kosgei Mwangaza Race Director for the Buffalo Thunder Half and Marathon Relay. Kerri is an avid trail runner and attended the U.S. National Snowshoe Championships this past winter in Leadville, Colorado.

Mwangaza Athletics Club is so grateful and humbled for all of the support we have received from former Santa Fe to Buffalo Thunder half marathon runners, walkers and volunteers these past few days. As a co-founder of the races held on the third weekend of September for the last nine years, it is beyond encouraging to know so many of you want to see the tradition continue.

Despite our best efforts and wishes, it has become apparent that our destination half marathon, 5k, 1 mile and exciting new marathon relay must be cancelled for 2020. The safety of our participants, volunteers, spectators and their families demands it. No amount of precautions could eliminate the risks COVID-19 poses to a community of runners coming together from a multitude of backgrounds. And this coming together is what makes our race so worthwhile and beautiful. So we must relent.

We would like to thank all our participants, volunteers and sponsors for their understanding and invite you to join us in a “virtual race” that stays true to the spirit of runners and walkers doing what they love to help others. From September 20th to October 31st, those of you that choose to enter may post your “finish times” in the 1-mile, 5K or half-marathon race divisions. Your entry will support our continued partnership with the Santa Fe-based youth development organization, Wings of America. Inspired by the cultural, spiritual and competitive legacy of Native runners, Wings has empowered Native youth and their families since 1988.

Native American Runners

Native youth participants will be invited by Wings to register for their own divisions of a “virtual race”. There will be 1,000 spots available for Tribal youth ages 6-18 free of charge. Not only will their registration for the virtual race earn them a commemorative race “Pandana” (face mask), but also provide them an opportunity to earn a pair of running shoes by documenting their commitment to a daily walking/running routine during the six-week race period.

We understand you signed up for an in-person race and would like to honor that promise if a “virtual race” doesn’t sound appealing to you. Refunds minus servicing fees will be given upon request and you also have the option to roll over your registration to next year’s race. But please consider dedicating at least the amount you would have spent on the race this year to helping us encourage 1,000 youth runners to dedicate their mind, body and spirit to movement this fall. In return, you will also receive a race Pandana, virtual “swag bag” and the chance to win some cool prizes in the participant-only raffle to be held virtually on October 31st. You may also choose to support Pueblo artists by purchasing a hand-painted clay race medallion. To register for the virtual race and learn more about how to sponsor our community initiatives, please visit RunSignUp.com.

One way or the other, we look forward to seeing you in-person at next year’s race on Sept. 19th, 2021. The event will be renamed “Santa Fe International Half-Marathon”, as we feel this better encompasses our race community.

Native American Runners

Beginning in 2011, Wings of America collaborated with “Global Running Culture” to put on youth events associated with the Santa Fe Thunder Half Marathon. Not only did this collaboration help bring a world-class distance race to New Mexico, but, more importantly, generated funding for youth initiatives in communities with a tradition of running around the world.

Though “Global Running Culture” disbanded in 2019, former co-race director, Abraham Kosgei, approached Wings about continuing the race and its youth-development initiatives under a new name and format. His running club, Mwangaza Athletics Club, would serve as race directors of the new “Santa Fe International Half Marathon and Relay” while Wings of America would serve as the fiscal agent for charitable donations made to the race. Wings staff and volunteers would also assist with race organizing, promotion, and execution, as needed. Eventually, Wings would also ensure that proceeds from the race are properly accounted for and utilized to support Native American youth running programs, with a share going to Mwangaza Athletics Club to benefit Kenyan youth.

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