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(Many Paths)
An Online Newsletter Celebrating Native America
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Spirit of New Yorkers Carries Pine Ridge Reservation's Team One Spirit Across Marathon Finish Line
by Wayne Coffey - New York Daily News
Amanda Carlow, Nupa White Plume, Kelsey Good Lance, Alex Wilson and Jeff Turning Heart competed in Sunday's ING NYC Marathon and raised at least $20,000 for a youth center on The Rez, as they call it.

Amanda Carlow's heel hurts. Nupa White Plume's calves and ankles are cranky, and his body begged him to stop with 385 yards to go. A year later than they'd planned, five runners from the Lakota Nation and the Pine Ridge Reservation in South Dakota finally got to run the New York City Marathon Sunday, empowered by their cause and the crowds, even if the pounding and the wind roughed them up.

"It's an indescribable feeling having a million people cheering for you," said Carlow, the lone female member of a group known as Team One Spirit, which returned to The Rez, as they call it, as rubber-soled heroes Monday, saluted for their feat, and their feet.

"So many of the stories from back home are negative," Carlow said. "This is something positive . . . showing young people what you can do if you work at it."

Team One Spirit ran in New York to raise at least $20,000 for a youth center on Pine Ridge, the second largest reservation in the country, a stark and sprawling place that is twice the size of Connecticut, with 40,000 residents and two traffic lights and a brutal array of challenges. The runners showed up last year, only to have the race canceled by the ravages of Hurricane Sandy. On what would've been Marathon Sunday, 2012, Team One Spirit took the ferry to Staten Island and then ran five miles to a shoreline area and pitched in.

"We wanted to help," White Plume said.

Life on the reservation can be grim, even on the best days. Life expectancy for men is 48 years, 52 for women. Per capita income is $4,000, unemployment is about 85% and the school dropout rate approaches 70%. Alcohol-related illnesses and crashes are epidemic, and teenage suicide, perhaps the biggest problem of all, is believed to be as much as 20 times higher than it is for a kid who lives a few miles away, in Nebraska.

White Plume, 29, has two boys, ages nine and four, and lives in a ramshackle compound of trailers surrounded by debris and an outhouse, with as many as 10 or 12 family members.

"The benefit of (us running the marathon) is to get kids motivated," said White Plume, who ran the marathon in three hours, 21 minutes. "We want to give them (encouragement), something to keep their lives moving forward."

The other Lakota runners — Kelsey Good Lance, Alex Wilson and Jeff Turning Heart — ran with the same mission. They believe that the new youth center, with programs and activities and a much-needed destination, can make a measurable difference, and so does Dale Pine, the cross-country and track coach of Pine Ridge School, who lost his daughter, Cassandra, to suicide when she was 15.

Pine spent marathon Sunday following his five runners, getting a tour of the New York City subway system in the process. "I went through a $25 MetroCard," he said. When Jeff Turning Heart was in serious distress Sunday, Pine thought about hopping onto the course to help him keep going. The coach was struck by how different New York felt on Marathon Sunday as opposed to the days before — how it had seemingly morphed into a small town, people reaching out, supporting each other, sharing the day's spirit.

"I'm proud of all of them - proud they all finished," Pine said of his runners.

Amanda Carlow, whose painful heel barked at her for the last 10 miles, is a school counselor on The Rez. She will be back at school Tuesday, with her finisher's medal and stories to tell from her run through New York City.

"Every time I thought I might have to quit, the crowd got louder and louder, yelling, 'C'mon One Spirit, you have to keep going," Carlow said. "No matter how much it hurt, I knew I had to finish."

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