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
"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
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
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
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.
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.