Levi Rickert, editor-in-chief in Native Currents. Discussion »
Ready for Another Run
CHICAGO - Eight down! Two to go! That is the number of how many more marathons Dirk Whitebreast, Sac and Fox, has to run until he fulfills his commitment to run in ten marathons in 30 days.
The 31 year-old, Whitebreast has committed to run for a just cause, which is to bring attention to the high number of suicides among American Indian and Alaska Native youth.
Sadly, Native youth commit suicide at rates two to three times the national average.
Eight years ago, Whitebreast, while attending Haskell Indian Nations University, received a telephone call that his sister, Darcy Jo Keahna, had committed suicide. Since that time, Whitebreast took up running as a coping mechanism to get him past the pain of losing his sister.
Yesterday Whitebreast ran the 26.2 mile Bank of America Chicago Marathon. Once he is done with 10 marathons he will have run 262.5 miles So far, he has run almost 210 miles in his quest to achieve his goal. The Chicago Marathon was Whitebreast's 37th marathon he has run.
Whitebreast Moving to Marathon Start
“This is the biggest marathon I have run so far,”
commented Whitebreast just before the 7:30 am start on Sunday. Whitebreast was one of the 45,000 runners who registered to run in the Chicago Marathon.
On Saturday Whitebreast ran the Prairie State Marathon in Libertyville, Illinois. By Sunday morning, the grueling schedule was taking its toll on him.
“My body is tired. I am slowing down,”
After the conclusion of Sunday's marathon, Whitebreast confided that he almost quit running on Saturday.
"I was very discouraged yesterday because it is getting hard," commented Whitebreast. "What I learned today, it is definitely worth it. About a half-mile into the marathon today, I ran along a man who saw me up in Hayward (Wisconsin). He had heard on the radio why I am running these marathons. He said, 'I know about you. I knew you were going to run today and you were an inspiration for me. I was wondering about you this morning.' He stayed with me until Mile 15. What an opportunity to meet someone like that randomly today. He became part of it. He was an inspiration for me!"
Running marathons is difficult. On Sunday, a firefighter from Greensboro, North Carolina died after he collapsed within 500 yards of the finish line. Even though temperatures were cool at the beginning of the race, temperatures rose to the low 80s as the day progressed. Marathon officials reported that the heat slowed down runners and issued a cautionary warning for the safety of runners.
Whitebreast Gets Congratulations fromYolanda Pushetonequa and Paul Molina
"It takes a lot of courage to do what Dirk is doing," said Yolanda Pusbetonequa, a tribal citizen of the Sac and Fox of Mississippi Tribe, where Whitebreast serves on the tribal council as its secretary. "This is a really big deal to be open about why he is running. It is a big deal physically," she continued.
Pusbetonequa, from Tama, Iowa serves as the language preservation officer at the Tribe, has run in the Chicago Marathon previously and was in Chicago visiting friends when she remembered Whitebreast was running and came to congratulate him at the conclusion of the marathon.
In addition to bringing awareness about suicide among Native youth, Whitebreast hopes to raise funds to combat suicides among American Indians. Funds raised during the ten marathon challenge will go to fund programs of the Center for Native American Youth - Aspen Institute, based in Washington DC.
This coming Friday Whitebreast will speak at Haskell Indian Nations University in Lawrence, Kansas on the topic of suicide among American Indian youth.
Next weekend Whitebreast will finish his ten marathon commitment by running the two remaining marathons. On Saturday, October 15, he will run the Waddell & Reed Kansas City Marathon - Kansas City, Missouri and on Saturday, October 16, he will run the IMT Des Moines Marathon - Des Moines, Iowa.
To quote Pusbetonequa: "It is a big deal physically."
posted October 10, 2011 7:00 am edt
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