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!