Navajo Hogan Service Project
These races take us to some amazing places and introduce us to some amazing people. On October 20th, 2018 over 1400 runners from all around ran the Lake Powell Half Marathon. After the race, runners and their family and friends were invited to take part in a unique service project!
October 20, 2018
We were joined by over 100 runners and volunteers after the race to finish applying the final mud layer to a Navajo hogan. The hogan is an important structure amongst the Navajo that preserves some of their ceremonies, traditions, and culture. Some of our staff and runners have had the opportunity to work on this particular hogan through different stages of construction. Over a year ago a group helped strip the bark of the timbers that make the hogan frame. Then in April, another group was able to actually construct the frame of the building. This group was able to mix and apply the final mud layer to the exterior and interior of the hogan.
As a result, many hands made light work and the entire thing was over in just a couple of hours. We couldn’t have done it without the help of so many wonderful volunteers! We have three races that bring us to Page, AZ. Two of them allow the opportunity to run on Navajo land. Our Antelope Canyon Ultra and Day 3 of our Grand Circle Trailfest event both have us running different areas of the desert, through slot canyons and overlooking Horseshoe Bend.
Some might look at this project and cynically suggest that this is the “price” we have to pay in order to run in these amazing and special places. But actually, it was a privilege and unique opportunity to be able to provide some meaningful service. It was possibly a more valuable experience to those participating than to those who benefited form the work done. After speaking with a few volunteers, most agreed that we gained much more beyond lending a helping hand. To be able to serve, learn, and commune with our Navajo brothers and sisters was a wonderful opportunity. We hope to have many more.
Culture and Tradition
Our friend Herbert Stash often speaks about the relationship between running and Navajo culture and traditions. He talks about the spiritual nature of all things, and describes how he goes on a morning run to greet the sun by starting with a prayer.
He compares running in nature and the wilderness to being a guest in someone’s home. You wouldn’t come in unannounced and make yourself comfortable at someone else’s home. You would make your presence known, show appreciation for their hospitality, let them know your intention, and show respect to everything in the home. It is a beautiful sentiment. Similarly, as guests on Navajo land, we are thankful for the opportunity not only to run here, but to show our appreciation through these types of projects.
What a wonderful experience and we appreciate all the runners and volunteers who came out in full force to help. Thanks to the Navajo people in the community and to the Manson family for welcoming us into their home land. Coming to serve on multiple occasions as a part of these events is a wonderful opportunity to say thanks.
There will be more opportunities like this for us to show our appreciation. We hope you will continue to join us!