Hopi Runner Kyle Sumatzkuku Chases a Dream

Join Us in supporting Kyle Sumatzkuku as he chases A Big Goal

A JOURNEY FROM HOPI TO BOSTON
I would like to take this opportunity to thank you for simply stopping by to learn more about Kyle and his pursuit of ambitious goals. Kyle is a blossoming runner with plenty of potential. He is an inspiration to me and many others in the Hopi community. For that we are grateful.

As many of you might know the Boston Marathon scheduled for April 2020 was cancelled because of the COVID-19 Pandemic. In fact, many in-person races across the country in the last year-and-a-half were postponed, or cancelled, as race organizers scrambled to figure out how to adapt to the changing landscape with new safety measures and precautions. This year the Boston Marathon will take place on October 11, 2021 and return to normal routine beginning April 2022. The distance from Munqapi to Boston is just over 2,500 miles. Running a marathon, any highly competitive race at the national level, is no easy task. Kyle is a disciplined runner and his training efforts are producing effective results, time and time again, as he develops.

Kyle was accepted to run in this limited event by special invitation, especially after the Pandemic created a challenge for the amount of people who would be able to participate in the race. Other talented Hopi runners have gone to Boston before, and we hope many others will continue the tradition, however, in this instance this will be Kyle's first trip to Boston.

This year's events in Boston will be historic for many reasons, and the Boston Athletic Association (B.A.A.) is enthusiastic about the number of returning champions. “We are delighted to welcome so many champions from such a diverse range of competition back to Boston for the 125th running of the Boston Marathon,” said Tom Grilk, B.A.A. President and Chief Executive Officer. “While October’s race marks a long-awaited return to racing, it will also recognize and celebrate the many world-class athletes competing for an historic prize purse across multiple divisions.” (1)

I have been working closely with Kyle to journalize and document his experiences as he chases his dreams. The last few years leading up to these moments have been awe inspiring and gut wrenching, with some big wins and a share of tough times. Kyle has accomplished many personal goals along the way, however, it is the emotional impacts in our community and the hurdles faced by the immediate family that drives Kyle to keep moving and succeeding.

It’s an honor to introduce you to Kyle, as he is just as excited, as I am to share his story with you. Meet Kyle…

 

 

MY QUEST TO SUCCEED

Thank you for stopping by to learn more and supporting my journey.

Allow me to introduce myself. My name is Kyle Sumatzkuku, I am from the Hopi village of Mishongnovi in Second Mesa, AZ, but I spent most of my youth growing up in the village of Moencopi, AZ near the town of Tuba City, AZ. My family, relatives, and community in Upper and Lower Moencopi raised me and helped mold me into the person I am today.

Most people in our community know me as a runner, and a student – in that order!

HOPI RUNNING

I identify with being a runner first and foremost, however, a good portion of my “free” time and energy is invested in being a student. I balance much of my time between working my job and helping out my family and volunteering in the community. I've spent a good deal of time mentoring and helping other kids with shaping their running experience.

Although I am technically taking a break from school to focus on my race training, my aim is to pursue a career in Business Management. I hope to obtain my Bachelor’s degree in the next few years. One of my goals is to continue to assist with building economic development for our tribe, and to continue giving back to Hopi and other indigenous communities.

I do find it funny though when people meet me in person and they do a double-take when they see the life-size me and my smile, then immediately discover with a cool surprise that I’m super short, Hopi genetics, followed by a bigger reaction when they learn I’m also stealthy on the race course.

The Hopi villages in northern Arizona are considered to be the oldest, continuously inhabited communities in the United States, dating back more than a millennium. The Hopi have survived in this rugged, yet beautiful high mesa terrain for centuries. Although our culture is changing, our core values remain intact, our faith is strong and our guiding principles are central to our culture.

Running, and the tradition of Hopi footracing, is one simple aspect of our culture, but it’s also an incredible teaching tool for practicing core values that allow me to continue with maintaining a healthy lifestyle and chasing my dreams.

ENDURANCE RACE OBSTACLES

One of my dreams has always been to have an opportunity to race in one of the biggest marathons on the world stage. The path that lead me here, and the events that took place in the last few years, all occurred for a purpose and brought me to this point.

A few years ago, after a very bad experience during the 2017 NAIA Collegiate Outdoor Track & Field Marathon Championship race in Gulf Shores, Alabama, I took some time to reflect on life and consider my place in the world of running. It was my first introduction into the world of marathon racing and I failed. In the past I had done many long endurance runs, and I did fine in most races under 13.1 miles, but nothing at twenty-six point two miles.

Even though I trained hard and felt prepared for my first collegiate marathon, I botched it. By mile 18, mile eighteen hardly close to twenty, I was toast. Despite preparing myself mentally and spiritually, I had to quit the race. I questioned whether I was meant to run. I wondered if endurance running was truly not for me. It hurt to feel the frustration and anger, and to even consider the idea that I would not run again - that was intense for me.

While in the process of finishing out my second fall semester in college, during late 2018, I decided I needed to overcome my insecurity and face the fear head on. So I decided to do a real attempt again at my first marathon, another race outside of the competitive collegiate atmosphere, and truly give myself the best possible set of circumstances to address the challenge. I registered and made a commitment to run a marathon race that I always wanted to do not too far from home.

I set my sights on training for the 2019 Shiprock Marathon in northern New Mexico, near the Four Corners region, and that became a very personal quest in the Winter and Spring of 2019. I had a personal and intimate understanding going into the Shiprock Marathon, which, this race would be a true follow-up test to my endurance and skills I built. I also knew there was a strong possibility that anything could happen on the racecourse.

When it came time to race day, in Shiprock, NM – my thoughts were racing wild, my insecurities were bubbling up, my anxiety and apprehensions of dying on the race-course were surfacing again. I also knew that nobody else was in my shoes, nobody else experienced exactly what I endured the last full year, or the last twenty years of my life with the intense trials and tribulations on and off the track, or how much hundreds of years of historical trauma has affected Hopi people and other indigenous communities, so this “first” marathon race would become something bigger than me.

MY FIRST MARATHON

If you ever consider doing your first marathon, or your first “big race” anywhere for that matter, whether it’s a 5K or 50K, the body will undergo many experiences leading up to the race, during and after the race. Most runners will probably relate to my first marathon race nervousness, and personal race day jitters. I repeatedly asked my butterflies to slow their wings. I talked my body through calming itself down and to carry on.

Since it would be my first real sincere effort at 26.2 miles, I constantly told myself to default to my plan – follow the blueprint created from many weeks of training and to simply pray. Prayer is what I did. Not prayer in the generic sense, but a deep honest meditation and contemplation, much similar to the one I do for the traditional footraces in our community, where we know we are also holding the prayers of our ancestors and carrying the current prayers from family members and loved ones on our shoulders.

During a long endurance race, like a marathon, there is plenty of opportunity to think to oneself on the open road, to talk to oneself, to pray to oneself. With every stride, I continuously repeated a positive prayer for my parents, my relatives and my running partner "Bandit".

Meet Bandit. He's been by my side through years of training.

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Throughout this race, and every race, I asked that all the living creatures on earth be blessed, that all the human beings continue to be strong and kind to one another, and that everyone in my community be loved and comforted. See in all the races I grew up doing, we would always run for others, especially those who can’t run at all. We pray for all those who don’t have the opportunity or ability to run, walk or simply live strong.

For most of the race during the Shiprock Mararthon, I kept close to a small pack of strong runners. I needed to keep up with their race pace to allow myself to stay on track and keep to the plan. By the point when mile 18 came upon us, I had a brief moment of really facing the fears. My legs, my heart and my mind were in a good place. My prayers were being heard. I kept a steady pace with the leaders for a few more miles, and by mile 20 through mile 22 I felt the confidence to pull away from the leaders. When mile 23 came up, I was feeling the strength and courage to notch up my race pace. I kept my composure only looking back behind me a few times, and my energy was boosted by mile 24 when I didn't feel any other runner anywhere near me.

Coming into the last mile, as the front-runner at the Shiprock Marathon, that was an exhilarating feeling. I accomplished something I actually doubted for a bit. I paid no attention to the reminders of previous fails and challenges. The feeling was euphoric - to tackle the fears head on. I pushed my last set of prayers up as I was close to the finish. I felt the sacred messages lift up as some of the spectators in attendance roared with cheers. It’s a precious and happy feeling to cross that finish line knowing you just accomplished a giant feat.

MY NEXT MARATHON QUEST

After my successful finish on a challenging course at the Shiprock Marathon in the spring of 2019, I was excited to discover that my race time of 2 hours, 38 minutes and 8 seconds was a credible qualifying time for the Boston Marathon. I applied to the Boston Athletic Association before the September 15th deadline in 2019 and my application was accepted. Subsequently. I was invited to participate in the 2020 Boston Marathon. However, because of the COVID-19 Pandemic everything was pushed to October 2020, and then again because April 2021 was skipped and the 125th Boston Marathon was shifted to October of this year, the race will proceed on October 11, 2021.

My runner’s bucket list is long, and some of those goals and dreams include qualifying for the U.S. Olympic team for long distance running, racing the marathon in London, doing the great Western States Endurance Run, but certainly on the top of the list is the chance to race the Boston Marathon.

I am requesting your extra boost in supporting my goals and join our journey to Boston. It would be incredible to achieve one of my dreams. It’s an epic trip from Moencopi, AZ to Boston, Massachusetts. We want to simplify the trip to Boston. The costs of ground travel, airfare, lodging and meals will not be easy on the wallet.

Considering how this will be my very first experience traveling to Boston and racing on the world stage, I am being realistic about my objectives with the race. The experience will simply allow me to race side-by-side with some of the most amazing endurance runners from around the globe. I realize the more I practice and compete on a larger level, the more I learn and the more I become a better runner.

Like many other incredible Hopi runners before me, like many other amazing indigenous racers who all set the bar high, I effectively want to achieve small personal goals with this experience and continue to win more races, while I grow stronger and faster. I will also strive to win for our community. I will honorably represent many Hopi people - my family – my tribe. I will embrace all the help I can get.

We also want to raise social awareness with this campaign around the social issues related to Health and Wellness, Physical Activity and Nutrition, and the battle against another type of Pandemic in America - Diabetes. 

Send me your positive energies. Send me your prayers. I will gather up all the prayers and carry them with me as I train, prepare and execute on my race plan.

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With your donations I will be able to achieve my Boston Marathon goals. Any amount of contribution – whether it’s $1 or $100 – it will all play a significant part in my quest. No amount is too small — even sharing this link makes a difference and thank you for partnering with me on this journey!

My entire path to Boston will be documented by my Hopi filmmaker friend, Duane and his talented team, so, please stay tuned as we provide updates on this journey. Thank you kindly in advance.

With much appreciation - Kwa-kwa!

Kyle

 

___________________________

THE LOGISTIC GOALS
Kyle will be honored to have your assistance. Join us and be a part of the journey as we support Kyle and his parents make their way to Boston. My role is to facilitate the logistics from Hopi to Boston, and alleviate the burdens by managing some direct costs with my own investments. Kyle is talented and it will take a larger community to elevate him to the next level. In order to off-set some of the costs and expenses we are seeking your participation.

We moved our fundraising objectives a few times to appropriately reflect meeting our base needs. We have gathered some private monetary contributions so far, around 30-40% of our target, however, we would like to fast track our efforts to cover our budget. The sooner we can raise the much needed funds, the sooner we can secure the final details for the trip. The host guide, support team and individuals volunteering in Boston are secured.

OVERVIEW BASE EXPENSES
• Travel - Hopi to Boston, MA - $4,736.00
• Ground Transportation - Boston, MA - $2,046.00
• Rental Car Insurance - Boston, MA - $242.38
• Parking - Boston, MA - $50 allow
• Lodging - Boston, MA - $2,230.00
• Meals - Boston, MA - $1,450

• Gas Expenses - $300 allow
• Marathon Expo Expenses - $50 allow
• Athletes' Village - $50 allow
• Race Day Fees - $50 allow
• Contingency - 10%
• Taxes to Uncle Sam IRS% for fundraiser - allow - $275-350

The work on this campaign and the ongoing efforts with developing the photo journal and documentary film project will continue to evolve. We plan to post updates on this extended journey. If you have any creatives ideas on how to strengthen our endeavor, please contact us, we are open to collaboration and partnerships.

Again, thank you for helping us share Kyle's journey. Remember, as a show of reciprocal respect for your contributions to our campaign, we will provide donor incentive rewards listed at the very bottom of this post and acknowledge every single supporter in this campaign. Please, don't hesitate and send this story to as many people as you know.

Our biggest advocates are community members like you!

Kindly,

Duane
___________________________
(1) Boston Marathon Information:
https://www.baa.org/races/boston-marathon

___________________________

OUR GRATITUDE & APPRECIATION

INCENTIVES


As a way of recognizing your contribution to our fundraising campaign we assembled goodie packages to send you - should you want one of course. Thank you for the support!

Incentive Reward - for $20 - $39 Donation

Small surprise gift & stickers.

 
Incentive Reward - for $40 - $79 Donation

 Small surprise gift & stickers
+ A Kyle Sumatzkuku Team Crew T-Shirt
 

Incentive Reward - for $80 - $99 Donation

 Small surprise gift & stickers
+ A Kyle Sumatzkuku Team Crew T-Shirt
+ Sample set of artisan Coffee / Tea
 

Incentive Reward - for $100 - $299 Donation

 Small surprise gift & stickers
+ A Kyle Sumatzkuku Team Crew T-Shirt
+ Sample set of artisan Coffee / Tea
+ A bag of hand-crafted Ben’s Tribal Beef Jerky

 
Incentive Reward - for $200 - $399 Donation

 Small surprise gift & stickers
+ A Kyle Sumatzkuku Team Crew T-Shirt
+ Sample set of artisan Coffee / Tea
+ A bag of hand-crafted Ben’s Tribal Beef Jerky

+ 11”x14” Matted Print of a Hopi Artist Painting

+ SPONSORSHIP MENTION on all Marketing Material – with your Logo, Brand, or Name

 
Incentive Reward - for $400 - $699 Donation

 Small surprise gift & stickers
+ A Kyle Sumatzkuku Team Crew T-Shirt
+ Sample set of artisan Coffee / Tea
+ A bag of hand-crafted Ben’s Tribal Beef Jerky
+ 11”x14” Matted Print of a Hopi Artist Painting

+ A one-on-one coaching session with Kyle for you or a friend – virtual or in-person

+ SPONSORSHIP MENTION on all Marketing Material – with your Logo, Brand, or Name

 
Incentive Reward - for $700 - $999 Donation

 Small surprise gift & stickers
+ A Kyle Sumatzkuku Team Crew T-Shirt
+ Sample set of artisan Coffee / Tea
+ A bag of hand-crafted Ben’s Tribal Beef Jerky
+ 11”x14” Matted Print of a Hopi Artist Painting
+ A one-on-one coaching session with Kyle for you or a friend – virtual or in-person

+ An opportunity to sit-down with Kyle over dinner or lunch - or another virtual way to do a Q&A

+ SPONSORSHIP MENTION on all Marketing Material – with Logo, Brand, or Name



Incentive Reward - for $1000 + Donation

Small surprise gift & stickers

 Small surprise gift & stickers
+ A Kyle Sumatzkuku Team Crew T-Shirt
+ Sample set of artisan Coffee / Tea
+ A bag of hand-crafted Ben’s Tribal Beef Jerky
+ 11”x14” Matted Print of a Hopi Artist Painting
+ A one-on-one coaching session with Kyle for you or a friend – virtual or in-person

+ An opportunity to sit-down with Kyle over dinner or lunch – or virtual meet and greet

+ High quality Hopi Artisan creation – option from a carving or jewelry

+ SPONSORSHIP MENTION on all Marketing Material – with Logo, Brand, or Name

 

  • Effie Naqua-Hyeoma 
    • $20 
    • 11 hrs
  • LaCosta Johnson  
    • $30 
    • 1 d
  • Anonymous 
    • $100 
    • 2 d
  • Lolly Brown 
    • $20 
    • 2 d
  • Tanya Keene 
    • $100 
    • 2 d
See all

Fundraising team (2)

Duane Humeyestewa 
Organizer
Tuba City, AZ
Kyle Sumatzkuku 
Team member
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