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(Many Paths)
An Online Newsletter Celebrating Native America
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Tribal Member, Ovah Will Represent Hopi In Boston Marathon
by Crystal Dee - Hopi Tutuveni

The Hopi Tribe will have two runners represented at the 2014 Boston Marathon, Caroline "Kadoo" Sekaquaptewa and Stephen Lawrence Ovah of Sichomovi. The marathon is scheduled on Mon, Apr. 21, 2014.

Ovah is 29 years old; he is from the Water clan. His parents are Marty and Joycelyn Ovah. He is the oldest of three kids and has two kids, a daughter 5 years old and a son 3 years old.

His resume includes four state championships with Hopi High School. He went on to run for Haskell University where he ran cross country and track & field. After running at Haskell, he began running in marathons such as the Shiprock Marathon; the PF Chang's Rock and Roll Marathon last year and this year; the Hopi Taawaki Run, a 50K (30 mile) relay run that is held in Polacca, AZ every year in September.

Ovah said he had no specific intentions of running in the Boston Marathon.

"I just started running marathons because it's something I like to do and it keeps me focused on my goals. And it makes me a better person," said Ovah.

He didn't think he had a chance at qualifying for Boston because of the registration process and there is a time you must beat to qualify. He ran the Shiprock Marathon where his goal was to break under three hours, but came up a minute shy of his goal at 3:01:00. Ovah knew that his time was a qualifier for the Boston Marathon, but at the time it wasn't something he wanted to pursue.

However, Wendi Lewis, Project Manager for the Moencopi Developers Corporation (MDC) noticed he beat the qualifying time for the Boston Marathon. MDC offered to register Ovah into the marathon and helped him with the registration process. Lewis later informed him that he had qualified.

Since finding out he qualified to run in the marathon, he's been training and preparing for it.

In preparing for the Boston Marathon he is training smart and putting in a lot of miles every week. A typical day for him is waking up and getting something to eat before he starts his day. He'll run 10-14 miles a day, but if he wants to put in a long run he will run 20-21 miles. By week's end he will have put in a total of 80-100 miles a week. He plans to be over a 100 miles at the peak of his training.

When asked about what his diet is like he responded that he eats a lot of carbohydrates, water and Gatorade. He has also trained himself on food intake while running to replenish the calories he is losing. "I have a big appetite and I eat every couple of hours. I need all the calories because I lose about 2000 working out every day."

He has been improving his time in the marathons for over a year and says it's something that you can't rush and you need to be consistent. In preparing for the Boston Marathon, I asked him if he had a strategy and said he will come up with a running plan. A realistic plan where he will set a pace throughout the race, but it depends on how he feels that day he said. He hopes to be in a good mood because it will help him to run hard, but if not he said he will give it his all. "Knowing that I ran hard and did my best is what I'm going for and to represent the Hopi and Tewa people in a positive way. There are a lot of runners out here who are capable of doing this and I'd like to see them do this too," said Ovah.

Since Ovah can't physically walk the course he has been talking to people who have ran in the marathon and he also has seen the run on T.V. He knows the course is hilly with a lot of downhill and the course is asphalt; he said that is an advantage for him because it's easier to run on compared to the sandy trails out here. He knows the run is going to be fast because the world's best runners will be out there.

As far as elevation, altitude and the difference in times, he said it will not affect him. "They are at sea level and we are at 6000 ft. It will be easier for me to breathe at that elevation." He plans to get to Boston a couple days early so he can get acclimated.

He hopes to finish the marathon in under 2:45:00 and if he has a good day he hopes to make it under 2:30:00. His training is geared toward meeting his goal in getting comfortable at running the pace to meet it. He is pushing himself to meet it and says it's a long process, but is all worth it and is confident he will reach his goal.

Ovah's family has been very supportive of him and is helping with fundraising efforts for his trip to Boston. He will be travelling with his brother. "It's just my immediate family, but my extended family as well has been very supportive. Actually the whole community is very supportive. I can't thank them enough," said Ovah.

Ovah's paternal grandmother, Lillian said she is very proud of him and said he has always been a runner. His paternal grandfather, Lawrence, was a runner and ran in traditional Hopi footraces. She said Lawrence wanted his grandchildren to follow in his footsteps.

"I wish he was here today to see what Stephen is doing with his running, he would be proud of him," said Lillian.

His inspiration for getting through the marathon is his children. He wants to be a positive role model for them and running in the marathon will be something that they can remember and say their father has ran in the Boston Marathon, not just for his kids but for all the youth in the community.

"I want to set a positive example and this is one of the reasons I'm happy to be a part of this event," said Ovah. He is also taking classes at Northland Pioneer College full time. When he is running he said his mind is sharper and he is motivated to do things.

Right before the race he is usually nervous, but has gotten better at it because he knows he has done the work and is ready to run. The only thing he worries about is eating too much before the race. All the hard work is done when he gets to the starting line and says its fun when you're at the starting line because he gets to race.

"I respect the Hopi culture and I've been running my whole life and I have run in basket dances. But spirituality is a big thing and I actually go to church now, so I pray a lot when I'm running and it has given me strength to keep me grounded. I belong to the First Mesa Baptist Church," said Ovah. Ovah said he can't thank Wendi and MDC enough for what they have done for him because he is doing what he loves to do, and that's to run. He doesn't think of himself as an elite runner, "I'm just doing what I love to do."

Running has been a part of his life since he was young and it has given him strength. "It keeps me grounded and it's therapeutic and spiritual for me," said Ovah. "I think running comes natural for Native American runners and it's something we are good at."

Ovah said he is happy to be sharing this experience with "Kadoo" because they are both representing the Hopi/Tewa people.

MDC is selling t-shirts with a silhouette of Ovah and "Kadoo" with the words, "Hopi to Boston". You may get in contact with Wendi Lewis at the MDC office. Phone numbers were not available at time of interview. You may also make your donations for the runners at any one of their fundraising activities.

"I'm so grateful for MDC because without them I wouldn't be running the Boston Marathon. They are doing a lot of great things for runners. I want to represent them very well," said Ovah.

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Moenkopi Developers Corporation
In the Hopi Tribe no person owns land – the use of land (including residential or commercial potential) is passed down through matrilineal clans. Therefore, creating businesses that require financing is a significant hurdle. The system of governance poses unique challenges in the Hopi Villages but the Upper Village of Moenkopi is the only village that has a constitution that provides the legal foundation for self governance. There is a great diversity of opinion about commercial development within the population of Hopi with the primary concern being preservation of culture. These are challenges that the elders of the Upper Village of Moenkopi met in undertaking the very significant project of economic development for the village. The outcome is a testament to their wisdom and their respect for the traditional ways of the Hopi.

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