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Native Thunder Distance Runners Marathon

Fifteen Red Lake Runners Participate in Twin Cities Marathon


The Native Thunder Distance Runners. Back Row: Brian Seki, Harvey Roy, Doug Fairbanks, Floyd Jourdain, Jeremy Strong, Ed Strong, Jeremiah Hunter, Sam Strong, Eugene Standing Cloud, and Darrell Waybenais. Front Row: Anna Sherwood, Margueritte Secola, Sasha Strong, Elizabeth Strong, and Unknown Mom and daughter.

Fifteen Red Lake members, as part of the Native Thunder Distance Runners, participated in the annual Twin Cities Marathon held in Minneapolis and St. Paul on Sunday October 2, 2011.

The 30th annual Medtronic Twin Cities Marathon weekend, was held September 30th through October 2. The annual marathon weekend is host to 11,000 marathoners from 50 states and 20 countries, 6,500 ten-milers, and more than 5,000 kids and families as part of the weekend.

Considered by many to be the most beautiful urban marathon in America, the 26.2 mile road race through scenic Minneapolis/St Paul drew runners from all fifty states, Mexico, Canada, and 13 other countries. The three-day weekend celebration of fitness includes the inaugural TC 10K, a 5K run/walk, children's fun runs, pasta dinner, health and fitness expo and Medtronic TC 10 Mile, in addition to the marathon.

A feast for Red Lake runners and supporters was held prior to the race at the Minneapolis American Indian Center on Saturday October, 1st at 6:00 p.m. Doug Fairbanks was honored at the Saturday night feast by his Native Thunder peers as an inspiration to the group for his distinguished running career that includes finishing over 30 marathons, and countless spiritual, and benefit runs.

Fairbanks is a 62 year-old Native Thunder Distance Runner from Leech Lake who now resides in Minneapolis. Fairbanks finished the marathon in a respectable time even though he had not been able to train due to his working on a pipeline northeast of Minot North Dakota.

Fairbanks said he “was hoping to qualify for Boston this year, but because my job called me away in early August, I had to suspend training, and take the opportunity to work instead.” His boss gave him the weekend off so he could attend the marathon weekend where Doug posted a respectable time of 4:33:21 despite the limited training.

Another inspiring marathoner was Ponemah runner Eugene Standing Cloud. “I was in the Marines so I guess I’ve been a runner all my adult life, although my brother has been an inspiration to me as well,” Standing Cloud said about his brother Steven. (Steven could not participate because of an injury.)

“Running is excellent exercise for the body and spirit,” says Standing Cloud, I try to be a role model by running through Ponemah frequently. It doesn’t seem to be catching on much, but I’ll keep running.”

This was Standing Cloud’s third year in a row of participating in the Twin Cities run, but he also participates in local marathons, most recently the Walker Marathon on September 17th. “With the October 2nd run, I ran two marathons in three weeks, I’ve never done that before.”

Standing Cloud also does the smaller runs, the 5K and 10K runs that many communities sponsor. “I ran the Polar Challenge as part of Bemidji’s Polar Daze celebration in January of this year. I believe I may have been the only American Indian in that run. I know there are lots of Indian runners, doing these sobriety runs and others, I’d like to see more Natives participating in these runs, it’s good for racial relations. Let’s interact with our neighbors.”

Standing Cloud also has done the La Luz Trail Run held in New Mexico in August for the past three years. “It’s a nine mile straight up the hill mountain run,” says Standing Cloud. “Only 400 are allowed because of the small trail. Participants are selected by lottery, and I lucked out and made it past three years. It’s pretty grueling.”

“Running is a cultural thing with me, symbolic if you will. I run not only for myself, but I run for people who can’t run, for those too old or handicapped,” Standing Cloud concluded.

Eugene Standing Cloud and Harvey Roy both carried Red Lake flags along the last few miles of the marathon. This brought cheers and pride from Red Lake members and other American Indians watching along the route. The Red Lake Urban Office provided the flags and Drum and supported the runners at various points along the route. The John Oakgrove Family Drum, kept pushing ahead of the runners and would drum as they went by. More proud moments for American Indian runners and viewing fans.

The Native Thunder Distance Runners were formed in 2002 by Red Lake Nation member Stacey Thunder, and Anita Fineday of White earth to promote increased physical fitness and healthy lifestyles in Indian communities. In 2009 Native Thunder participated in the Twin Cites marathon as part of the Red Lake Nations Million Miles against Diabetes campaign. This year again Native Thunder will donate their miles to MMAD. (Red Lake’s Million Miles Against Diabetes)

Native Thunder has grown to over 150 members of all ages throughout the Midwest. Runners have participated in Spiritual runs throughout Indian country, and at such running events as Grandmas marathon, the Twin Cities marathon, Walker marathon, Fargo marathon, plus the New York City, and Boston Marathons. Native Thunder does not require that any potential new members be marathon, or long distance runners. Only that they promote the mission of Native Thunder, and run for a good cause.

2011 Medtronic Twin Cities Marathon: Red Lake Distance Runners

Distance - 26.2 MILES

Finishers - 8535 (4857 men, 3678 women)

Average Time - 4:20:16

• Eugene Standing Cloud - M47 - Ponemah - 4:09:26

• Doug Fairbanks - M62 - Minneapolis - 4:33:21

• Floyd "Buck" Jourdain - M47 – Red Lake - 4:09:22

• Samuel Strong - M28 – Red Lake - 4:55:07

• Harvey Roy - M31 – Red Lake - 5:03:04

• Elizabeth Strong - Red Lake - 5:03:43

• Anna Swan Sherwood - F34 – Red Lake - 5:13:03

• Darrell Waybenais - M49 – Red Lake - 5:42:26

• Jeremy Strong - M37 – Red Lake - 5:48:28

Elizabeth Strong running strong at Mile #13


• Jeremiah Hunter - Red Lake - 1:24:42

• Brian Seki - Red Lake - Finished (Time unavailable)

• Susan Ninham - Red Lake - Finished (Time unavailable)

10 Mile

• Sasha Strong - Red Lake - 2:15:11

• Margueritte Secola - Bemidji - 2:15:15

• Ed "Beeb" Strong - Red Lake - 2:41:24


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