Throughout history, the Hemish people have run for religious purposes, communication, health, travel, sport, war, hunting and to foster bonds between villages. Tribal men and women of all ages have participated in these running activities for generations.
In August 1680, the Pueblo tribes of the Southwest organized a revolt in response to harsh colonization by Spaniards, which threatened each tribes’ traditions and culture. Long distance running was used to communicate and coordinate the revolt between the tribes. Our Hemish ancestors ran to keep their ways of life intact. In 1980, a Taos to Hopi Run was held to commemorate the tri-centennial of this event. Many Jemez runners participated with the vision of honoring our ancestors and their efforts to maintain our cultural way of life. To this day, Hemish people remain rooted in tradition and strive to maintain our culture for all future generations.
Many Jemez runners have set records in local, state, national and international competition. Steve Gachupin and Al Waquie, accomplished long distance runners, have inspired people in our community and around the world. Steve and Al have excelled in traditional runs, marathons and long distance runs, locally and nationally.
Steve Gachupin has won traditional races, the Pikes Peak Marathon (6) and the La Luz Trail Run (5) numerous times. In running circles, he is known as “King of the Mountain” of the Pikes Peak Marathon. Al Waquie has also won traditional races, the La Luz Trail Run (8), Pikes Peak Marathon (2) and the Empire State Building Run (5) numerous times. They have exemplified the courage, determination, athletic ability and traditional upbringing that make Jemez runners unique.
Currently, Jemez runners (male and female) participate in running events throughout the year including traditional foot races, cross-country, track, marathons and endurance runs. Many tribal youth compete in scholastic competition from elementary through college. This passion for running is a tradition that each generation decides to carry on. Elders often share memories with their children and grandchildren of trails they ran, places they travelled and the many blessings of running. The tradition continues!