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Spiritual run to challenge endurance

May 19, 2014 - By Alejandra Silva, Staff Writer

Organizers are preparing to accommodate more than 200 runners who have signed up to participate in the Moccasin Lake Challenge Run on Saturday in Fort Washakie. On a hot May morning last year, roughly 50 runners tackled 18 miles up the trail is switchbacks to reach a final elevation of about 10,000 feet.

Organizer Mike Chingman of the Eagle Staff runners and Eastern Shoshone Boys and Girls Club said drum groups this year will be stationed along the route at rest stations where food and water will be provided. This will not be a timed run nor will it award runners for first, second or third place, Chingman said.

The run is intended to challenge the "body and soul," he added, and it is a personal mission that will take courage and strength to accomplish.

"No one should come away from this run disappointed in themselves," he said. "This run is to prove your doubts and fears wrong."

New and old runners

Several runners from the Wind River Indian Reservation are training for the run. Eagle Staff runner coordinator Naomi Harris said there is a mix of ages in the local runners who have been preparing and training for months.

Harris -- who is also a coordinator with the Healthy Lifestyle Balance classes with the Eastern Shoshone Chronic Disease Program -- said she has provided the runners with nutritional guidance on proper food intake for the run.

"This year we're getting a little bit smarter on how to teach people how to get prepared," Harris said, adding that safety will be a priority. "'Eat clean to feed your machine' ... I say that a lot.

Harris said she tells runners to eat more lean meat and vegetables and less bread and sugary food or drinks.

"Anything your body can build on," she said.

Harris and Chingman also are looking forward to providing encouragement to participants while running with them and testing their own endurance.

"It's a test of your will and pushing yourself," Harris said. "It's to build a healthy community without drugs and alcohol."

A Facebook page for the run also has helped bring more attention to the event; more than 100 runners from Wyoming and other states have pledged to participate.

Arizona runners

Waylon Pahona Jr. of Arizona will bring five other runners to the reservation for the run. His group's preparation includes increasing the incline on their treadmills, Pahona said, because they do not have mountainous terrain where he lives, though South Mountain nearby in Phoeniz, Ariz., has helped.

"Everybody has been telling me it's pretty intense," Pahona said, adding that he has competed in marathons. "I'm pretty excited about it."

Pahona said he does know what it is like to run in the heat because his training usually starts in the summer.

He also provides encouragement and promotes healthy living on Healthy Active Natives -- a Facebook page with more than 31,000 followers. Pahona works as a personal trainer in the Gila River Indian Community.

Nevada runners

Dawn Day Manning of Nevada has competed in two marathons already, but said this type of run will be new to her as well. Manning said she especially liked that it was a spiritual run rather than a competitive run and it would not cost her to participate.

"There's more of an intention behind it other than to make money," Manning said.

She'll be running with her friend Sasha Jones, and she said although it can be a little intimidating, the training itself is already putting her up to the challenge.

"I'm finding every hill that we have here," she said. "I'm expecting this to be my most challenging run ... it's changing me a lot in the way that I run, and it's already teaching me a lot."

Manning said she is running almost every day of the week and adding new strength exercises to her workout routine.

She also said the run was more meaningful to her because she knew Harrison "Bunny" Shoyo. The spiritual run will honor Shoyo, who was an Eastern Shoshone Business Council member who died in December. Manning said she and her family knew Shoyo through the Native American Church.

"Bunny helped my family a lot with guidance," Manning said.

Third year

The run is in its third year, and several sponsors already have agreed to help with costs and supplies. The added dedication to Shoyo, Chingman said, also will give this run another purpose this year.

"He really backed all these runs that I've done," Chingman said. "This is a good way to honor him and his family for all the stuff he has done for our community."

The Eastern Shoshone Business Council has donated Pendleton coats for Shoyo's brother Arlen Shoyo and wife, Angeletta Shoyo, who will be present at the run.

Chingman said the organizers are counting on volunteers and donations from programs such as the Eastern Shoshone Recovery, Eastern Shoshone Tribal Health, E.S.C.A.P.E., UNITY, Fort Washakie School Recreation Board, Eastern Shoshone Entertainment Committee, Shoshone Rose Casino, Wind River Hotel and Casino, Cheyenne Plumbers Union, Eastern Shoshone Recreation, the Boys and Girls Club and the Dave Hines General Store. Several other community members are helping coordinate the expenses, safety and course set-up.

Meals will be provided for the runners at the finish line when they reach Moccasin Lake.

Runners and sponsors still can sign up to participate. They will meet at 9 a.m. the day of the run at Rocky Mountain Hall in Fort Washakie where a shuttle will take them to the starting point.