JORDAN DANIEL RUNS WITH REASON
Altra Elite Athlete, Jordan Daniel, shares what her recent Prayer Run meant to her and what motived her to complete the 360-miler.
From September 1-5th, 2020, I participated in a 360-mile prayer run from Bears Ears National Monument to Salt Lake City, Utah, with ten Native runners from across Turtle Island (North America) to carry and offer prayers for our relatives impacted by COVID-19 and help raise funds for the sponsoring organizations of this run, the SLC Air Protectors and Urban Indian Health Center of Salt Lake. Both of these organizations are devoted to giving back to their relatives and communities and to also help protect our relatives by providing and distributing masks, hand sanitizer, and resources during this pandemic.
When I was asked to join on this prayer run, I said yes. I felt honored and overjoyed to be a part of this journey with other Native runners. Leading up to the run, I took every day, whether it was with my running or with the work I love doing, to really reflect on what prayer running means to me—especially since I have been doing it (in my own way) since my 2019 Boston Marathon prayer run for 26 missing and murdered Indigenous women and girls. It’s been over a year for me, but with every race that I have chosen to run in prayer and help raise awareness of this epidemic happening in our communities, I intentionally center our stolen relatives, their families, and the advocates that do this work every day to help create a better and safer world for our Indigenous women, girls, two spirits, and all relatives impacted by this violence. After every run, I learn something new. I learn how to do it in a better way. I learn where I need to be taking care of myself and know that healing is not linear but running, with a new and greater purpose, helps in this healing and motivates me to keep running. As September 1st got closer, I knew I needed to come with a clear head, open heart, and get rid of any stress or negativity I may be holding. I wanted to come in feeling good. And now that I am part of a new family, the Altra Running family, I wanted to share the opportunities Altra has provided me with and give back to my relatives. I wanted to gift all the runners a pair of shoes for this 360-mile prayer run and I am forever grateful to Altra for collaborating with me to make this happen. One thing I have learned growing up from my relatives is that you give back to your community. Having this opportunity to represent my relatives within the Altra platform—it’s a reminder to never forget how you got here, to have this opportunity present itself to you, is because of your relatives, the hard work that happens every day, and how you are raised. So, providing new, amazing shoes to make some feet happy on this running journey was the least I could do!
Prior to the run, I did some research to dedicate specific prayers for missing and murdered Indigenous relatives and Black brothers and sisters that have been impacted during this pandemic and in life. I wanted to create space for them and to raise awareness of the ongoing violence and racism that exists and directly impacts Indigenous and Black bodies. For me, the best way I know how to do this is through running. The first three days were for my uncle Wade, relatives taken by COVID, and specific prayers for relatives that friends have shared with me prior to the run for their family. It was an honor to carry these prayers with my relatives. During the last two days, as I ran with the red handprint, MMIWG2S painted on my body, and “Indigenous for Black Lives” on my shirt, I was panic breathing. I felt all these emotions and the heavy emotional toll I was feeling since I haven’t run in this way since December 2019. I had to acknowledge it, allow myself to feel this way, keep saying my prayers out loud and I had to take a moment to cry with my partner as he checked on me during my prayer run. And after one of the runs, Aunty Rhea hugged me. She saw how hard it was and we shared a moment together.
We cheered each other on, ate a lot of snacks, ran in 108-degree heat, and were challenged by some hills. However, one of the best things, was enjoying the beautiful land we ran on. On our last day, many of us shared how much this was needed. Many of us haven’t been able to go to our communities because we are choosing to protect them. Native people are communal, so going through this pandemic and not seeing our families, not attending the funerals or powwows, is hard on us. Many of us have lost loved ones during this time. We carried these prayers from sunrise to sunset. We pushed through. We felt another kind of medicine—laughter.
We are runners. It’s in our blood. It’s how we heal. It’s how we care for ourselves. It’s how we connect to the lands. It’s how we make space and center those not able to be with us.
Running is medicine. Running is community. And that is what we all felt. For me, it is running with purpose. Running for my relatives. Running for our next generations. Running is advocacy, a way for so many of us to support and advocate for the things most important to us. And that is how we continue to build community. I’m forever grateful to the running community and blessed to have this opportunity to run in prayer with my relatives. Mitakuye Oyasin—we are all related.