B.A.A. Partners With Harvard on Native American Running

B.A.A. Announces Native American Running  Partnership with Harvard University


Panel discussion and speaker series among events set to recognize Native American traditions during Boston Marathon weekend.


BOSTON ‰ÛÒ Working
closely with Harvard University, the Peabody Museum of Archaeology
& Ethnology, and the Harvard University Native American Program, the
Boston Athletic Association is pleased to announce that
numerous events exploring the history and importance of Native American
running traditions will be featured during Boston Marathon weekend this
year. Past, present, and future Native American running culture will be
explored leading up to the 120th Boston
Marathon, to be held on Monday, April 18, 2016.


The free, multi-day event, which is titled
Native American Running: Culture, Health, Sport, will not only
explore the history and importance of Native American running
traditions, but will also present efforts to support and encourage
running in Native American communities.


“We are proud
and honored to work with our friends at Harvard University to celebrate
and showcase Native American running, both here on the roads to Boston
and beyond,‰Û said Tom Grilk, Executive Director
of the B.A.A. ‰ÛÏThe events planned for Boston Marathon weekend will be
both inspirational and educational, exploring all facets of Native
culture through running and sport.‰Û


Kicking off the
celebration will be a Native American Running Conference at Harvard
University on Friday, April 15, followed by two panel discussions at the
John Hancock Sports & Fitness Expo on Saturday,
April 16, from 11:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m. at the Hynes Convention Center.
Both events are free and open to the public.


“Every culture
runs, but Native American running traditions are special. These events
will explore and honor Native American running in all its rich
diversity, from its origins to the present, including in
the Boston Marathon,‰Û said Daniel E. Lieberman, Harvard University‰Ûªs
Edwin M. Lerner II Professor of Biological Sciences. A leading expert in
the evolutionary benefits of running for both Native American cultures
and the general population, Lieberman will
participate in both the panel discussion and expo series on Boston
Marathon weekend. ‰ÛÏWe have much to learn about Native American running
traditions, and we need them more than ever.”


Among the
distinguished guests also participating are Billy Mills, a member of the
Oglala Lakota (Sioux) Nation, the 1964 Olympic gold medalist over
10,000 meters, and a Native American leader, as well as
athletes from the Tarahumara indigenous people of Mexico‰Ûªs Copper
Canyons. Representing the Tarahumara will be Arnulfo Quimare, one of the
most accomplished ultra-marathoners in history, and Irma Chavez-Cruz.
Both Quimare and Chavez-Cruz will race the 120th
Boston Marathon.


Chris McDougall,
author of the bestselling book, Born to Run: A Hidden Tribe,
Superathletes, and the Greatest Race the World Has Never Seen, which
chronicles the Tarahumara, will also be on hand to participate
in panel and expo discussions.


Other scheduled
participants include 1986 Boston Marathon champion Rob de Castella, a
leader of the Indigenous Marathon Foundation in Australia; three-time
Boston Marathon runner-up Patti Dillon, a Micmac
Indian and the first American woman ever to break 2:30 in the marathon;
Chris Sockalexis, a Penobscot Tribal Historic Preservation Officer and
relative of Olympian and marathon great Andrew Sockalexis; and Mickey
Mahaffey, a guide, cultural consultant, race
organizer, and researcher of indigenous Mexican tribes.


This April, the
B.A.A. will also celebrate two native champions: Ellison “Tarzan” Brown,
the 1936 and 1939 champion, as well as Thomas Longboat, the 1907 Boston
Marathon victor. The 2016 Boston Marathon marks
the 80th anniversary of ‰ÛÏTarzan‰Û Brown‰Ûªs 1936 victory, the iconic race
which is said to have led to the naming of ‰ÛÏHeartbreak Hill.‰Û The B.A.A.
also recognizes Andrew Sockalexis, a member of the Penobscot of Maine
who placed second in 1912 and 1913.


Connecting the
week‰Ûªs celebration of Native running traditions to the Patriots‰Ûª Day
race, representatives from the Tarahumara indigenous people will compete
in the 120th Boston Marathon. In addition, members
of Wings of America and Running Strong for American Indian Youth (a
charity which helps American Indians meet their immediate survival needs
while creating opportunities for self-sufficiency and self-esteem in
American Indian youth), as well as Rob De Castella‰Ûªs
Indigenous Marathon Foundation, will also race from Hopkinton to


“Generations of
Native runners have competed and excelled at various levels across the
nation.  The teams of Native runners participating this year continue to
share and represent these strong cultural running
traditions,‰Û said Shelly C. Lowe, Executive Director of the Harvard
University Native American Program. ‰ÛÏWe are absolutely delighted to
shine a national light on Native runners this year as we join the B.A.A.
in celebrating the accomplishments of Tarzan Brown,
Thomas Longboat, and Andrew Sockalexis.‰Û


A youth team
from Wings of America has been invited to compete in the B.A.A. Relay
Challenge on Saturday, April 16, extending the Native American tradition
to one of Boston Marathon weekend‰Ûªs most fun-filled
events. Wings of America uses running as a catalyst to empower American
Indian and Alaskan Native youth to take pride in themselves and their
cultural identity, leading to increased self-esteem, health and
wellness, leadership, and hope, balance, and harmony.


Native American
tradition is intertwined with the roads leading to the Boston Marathon
finish line. In 1907, Canadian Thomas Longboat, of the Onondaga Six
Nations, won the Boston Marathon in a course-record
time of 2:24:24. Nearly three decades later, Narragansett tribal member
Ellison ‰ÛÏTarzan‰Û Brown triumphed in 1936 and 1939, establishing himself
as one of the most dominant Boston Marathon champions of the decade.
Andrew Sockalexis, a member of the Penobscot
of Maine, placed second in 1912 and 1913.


The entire
running community is welcome to connect and experience the Native
American running traditions at both the Native American Running
Conference at Harvard University on Friday, April 15, and at the
speaker series at the John Hancock Sports & Fitness Expo on
Saturday, April 16. Both events are free and open to the public.


More information can be found via the Boston Athletic Association‰Ûªs website,
www.BAA.org, as well as at the Peabody Museum of Archaeology and Ethnology‰Ûªs website,





Established in
1887, the Boston Athletic Association is a non-profit organization with a
mission of promoting a healthy lifestyle through sports, especially
running. The B.A.A.‰Ûªs Boston Marathon is the world’s
oldest annual marathon, and the organization manages other local events
and supports comprehensive charity, youth, and year-round running
programs, including high performance athletes and running club. Since
1986, the principal sponsor of the Boston Marathon
has been John Hancock Financial. The Boston Marathon is part of the
Abbott World Marathon Majors, along with international marathons in
Tokyo, London, Berlin, Chicago, and New York City. More than 60,000
runners will participate in B.A.A. events in 2016. The
120th Boston Marathon will be held on Monday, April 18, 2016. For more
information on the B.A.A., please visit


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