Last year, five Native runners from the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation in South Dakota made a trip to the Big Apple as part of Team One Spirit. Their mission was to complete the 2012 IMG New York City Marathon and raise money for a youth center in their community. But when Super-storm Sandy struck at the end of October, the race was cancelled.
That disappointment didn’t stop the “Lakota Five,” as they later became known, from trying again. This year, Team One Spirit returned to NYC to finish what they started.
Nupa White Plum finished with the best time, completing the 26.2-mile course in 3 hours, 21 minutes, 17 seconds; Alex Wilson’s time was 3 hours, 41 minutes and 51 seconds; Kelsey Good Lance finished in 3 hours, 57 minutes, 7 seconds; and Amanda Carlow, the team’s only female runner, finished in 4 hours, 38 minutes and 20 seconds.
The fifth member, Jeffrey Turning Heart, Jr., suffered a knee injury at Mile 9, but he completed the race, finishing in 6 hours, 43 minutes, and 26 seconds.
Jeri Baker founder of Team One Spirit was overjoyed with the team’s finish. “This is just the beginning of something big,” Baker said. “These runners have become role models in their community; an inspiration for young Native youth, who now look to running with a sense of excitement and pride.”
Team One Spirit in Central Park, left to right, Alex Wilson, Nupa White Plume, Jeff Turning Heart, Amanda Carlow and Kelsey Good Lance
“There are those who say it was reckless, selfish and plain stupid, but in the end, this was a 22-year-old dream that came true for me,” Heart said.
The mission of this year’s run was to raise $18,000. At the conclusion of the race, they exceeded that goal with donations still coming in. These five Lakota runners have brought a new sense of pride to the Pine Ridge community and, perhaps, a renewed interest in running to the entire reservation.
“Running is in an important part of our community,” said Dale Pine, the team’s coach. “We need it to help the youth stay fit, fight off diabetes and give them something to strive for...I know we are really making progress because before we left [for New York City] Team One Spirit hosted a Halloween run for the youth; and despite the cold weather, and snow on the ground, we had over 50 kids out there running.”