Try 3 months for $3
Cross Country Flagstaff and Hopi

Flagstaff’s Corey Blubaum sprints across the finish line alongside a Hopi runner at Buffalo Park in Flagstaff in this 2017 file photo.

Wanting to live a healthier lifestyle in 2019, I started spending time every morning on my yoga mat. There’s no set routine. I just do whatever feels right that day, whether it’s gentle stretching or more energetic asanas (yoga poses).

I haven’t hit the mat every day, but what keeps me coming back is how I feel afterward. Daily yoga attunes me to my body and reminds me to take care of that body with good food and exercise throughout the day.

I was reminded of the value of daily practice when I talked with Aaron Secakuku about Hopi running traditions and culture. Aaron is a Hopi from Paaqavi (Bacavi) and a member of the Greasewood clan. He told me that starting around kindergarten age, Hopi are encouraged to go out and run first thing in the morning.

When I asked him why, he said, “Part of it is creating a healthy routine; a daily run is a way of conditioning yourself. Hopi tradition looks at a person’s overall well-being. Running leads to longevity and makes your life stronger by making your body physically stronger.”

The importance of running doesn’t fade with age. “As adults, you’re still encouraged to run as part of a daily routine. When you put something on your daily schedule, you tend to give it attention and make sure it happens.”

Aaron shared that in the Hopi culture, running is considered an opportunity for soul-searching. “It’s a way of having solitude within yourself and offering prayers as you run for things around you. You pray for the well-being of everything that has life; the plant world and the animal world, as well as the human side.”

Get tips on free stuff and fun ideas delivered weekly to your inbox

Some Hopi ceremonies include footraces that start at the base of a mesa and end in the village’s central plaza. When I asked why, Aaron said the purpose of incorporating running into a community ceremony is “to have solitude to be able to offer your prayers, and also to be in sync and support what’s happening in the ceremony.”

Hopi running traditions have been on my mind because of Saturday’s trivia night fundraiser for the Hopi High School cross country program. Their history is the stuff of legend: The boys hold the national high school record for consecutive state championships (27).

Reflecting on reasons for the team’s success, Aaron said, “Personally, I think there’s been a lot of buy-in from those runners into the school’s running program and into Hopi culture. They’re showing it’s something to be proud of, to be a Hopi and take part in the running associated with this culture.” He also praised the coaches as leaders who are invested in running and the Hopi culture.

I look forward to trivia night -- it’s a lot of fun. But it’s also good to remember the event’s more serious purpose; supporting a very special group of high-country runners.

Subscribe to Breaking News

* I understand and agree that registration on or use of this site constitutes agreement to its user agreement and privacy policy.

Julie Hammonds is coordinating editor for High Country Running. She invites submissions on any aspect of the local running scene. Send tips and ideas to or via Twitter @highcountry_run.


Load comments