Five young Lakota runners are taking on the NYC Marathon November 4 in an effort to raise awareness and funds for the proposed Allen Youth Center on the Pine Ridge Reservation. The Lakota Five, as they’re referring to themselves, hope to raise $18,000 to donate to the development and construction of the much-needed youth center. You can help by visiting their fund-raising page here.
The runners are sponsored by One Spirit, which is based in Rapid City, South Dakota. One Spirit is a Native American service organization founded to assist and support American Indians. At present, their focus is on the Lakota in South Dakota, including Pine Ridge.
Here’s a quick look at the five runners.
Kelsey Good Lance is 20 years old. He says the Lakota people have always been runners and he hopes to be a positive role model for young children on the reservation by encouraging them to pursue running instead of gangs or alcohol that are so frequently a problem for Lakota youth. He also runs to honor his family and his people–he even dreams of running and wakes up smiling! Kelsey’s training paid off recently when he won the Oglala Lakota Nation 10K race. This win is most impressive because Kelsey actually arrived late to the race, after the other runners had begun, and still won. Kelsey is being helped by coaches Dale Pine and Lynelle Long, also from Pine Ridge. When One Spirit mentioned to them that Kelsey had walked the 15 miles in 90 degree heat to meet them, they said, “Yep- that’s Kelsey!” We’re so proud of this young man and we applaud him for courage.
Nupa White Plume is a 27 year old father of two children. Nupa is an all-around athlete, has competed in the Iron Warrior events and is an experienced horseman. Last year, he auditioned for and won one of two spots in the Buffalo Bill Wild West Show, which is a modern version of the same event that chief Sitting Bull was part of over one hundred years ago.
At present, Nupa is running about 20 miles a day, 4 or 5 days a week over the hilly terrain of the reservation.
Jeffrey Turning Heart Jr. Jeff is a dedicated runner who has already run a total of 2,107.9 miles this year. He runs for the pure joy of running and has great fun with crazy running outfits, wild funky socks and even a hot pink Mohawk. Running in the NYC Marathon is a dream-come-true for Jeff…literally. He has wanted to run in the marathon since he was old enough to watch it on TV and says it’s a huge honor to run the marathon as a representative for One Spirit!
Alex Wilson is an accomplished runner who placed fifth in the state cross country when he was only in the eighth grade and went on to win the state championship in that event as a high school senior. Alex has continued to run and wants to inspire other youth on the reservation to follow their dreams.
Amanda Carlow has joined Team One Spirit as Runner Number 5. Amanda teaches at Red Cloud School on Pine Ridge Reservation and is the Cross Country Coach. She has a long history of running, including marathons and is a Sun Dancer.
On September 22, three of these five Lakota young people who will be participating in the NYC Marathon competed in the Badlands half-marathon. In a field of about 50 runners, Nupa White Plume, Kelsey Good Lance, and Alex Wilson took 1st, 2nd, and 3rd place finishing the 13.1 miles in 1 hour and 37 minutes–a time of 7 minutes per mile.
The New York Road Runners running club recently featured the Lakota youth in a video on their website, which you can watch here.