San Felipe Pueblo Runner Looking to Carry on Tradition in His Final Meets

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If you listen to Christian Gering speak, he sounds like he’s carrying the weight of the world on his shoulders.

Gering, San Felipe Pueblo, told ICTMN that when he runs, he doesn’t represent himself, but he represents the people, ancestors, the men who have gone before him, teammates and everyone who helped along the way.

This sounds like a great responsibility, but the senior cross country runner at Fort Lewis College in Durango, Colorado, said running is his ticket to freedom and harmony in his life. “Running in all Pueblo cultures is one of the reasons why we can walk in harmony. It was one of the main forms of communication between Pueblos,” Gering said. “I feel the power, and I’m thankful for being able to carry on that tradition.”

Gering has one more Rocky Mountain Athletic Conference race, which he’ll run on November 8. And he’ll compete against the best runners in the country. Two-time national champions Adams State University, No. 4 Colorado School of Mines, and No. 5 Western State Colorado University will also compete.

The RMAC conference race is a formality, but the real pressure builds at the NCAA South Central race on November 22 in Denver where the top four teams and the top four individuals from that competition will advance to the national race in Louisville, Kentucky in December. “The first time I was at nationals I told myself, it’s the last race of my season, I’m just going to leave it all out there,” he said. Gering broke a 26-year-old school 8K record (24:13.17) earlier this season. “Last year my mindset changed. I’ve been here before. I knew what to expect. I started to believe ‘I belong here.’ ”

Gering turned in a personal best of 31 minutes, 09.2 seconds (second-fastest 10K in school history) in his first national race as a sophomore in 2012. Last season, he qualified as an individual, finishing 80th overall in Spokane, Washington with a time of 31:57.6.

He still has to get there, but he’s preparing to run the final race of his collegiate career in Louisville. He trains under ideal circumstances 6,512 feet above sea level, so he will get a little oxygen boost at 534 feet in Louisville. “I’ve been working on my start. I have a very strong finish and I’m very focused in the middle part of the race,” Gering said. “If I continue to fine-tune my start, I’ll be a force to deal with.”

Gering grew up on the San Felipe Reservation in New Mexico and spent a year at the Institute of American Indian Arts in Santa Fe, New Mexico, before making his way to Fort Lewis, where he is majoring in environmental studies. “The past few years I have worked with an organization called Circles of Care, which is an organization working with people with mental disorders, addiction or issues coming from dysfunctional families,” he said. “We’ve been spearheading this organization to help develop youth leadership in our community and to help youth expand their horizons. I’m leaning toward the social side of working with people, and the environmental side, bringing them together. We’re an agricultural community, and this is a way to reconnect the people and bring them back to traditional ways.”

Gering has big dreams and big plans for the People. But first, he has three more cross country races. His goal is to be in the top 40 at the national race in December and earn All-American status.