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Sacred Run International Field set to start in March

2,600 Mile Cross Country Trek Promoting Environmental Awareness to Include Native American Cultural Programs

MINNEAPOLIS - (Jan. 12, 1996)- An estimated 35 runners from around the world will participate in the 1996 Sacred Run, called "The Longest Run III." Led by Native Americans, this multi cultural, international cross-country run will include runners from Australia, France, Germany, Japan and Canada.

The 2,600-mile, 105-day run will begin March 28 in Santa Monica, Calif., and conclude July 11 in Atlanta in time for the summer Olympics.

Dennis J. Banks, an Ojibwa Indian, founded the Sacred Run in 1978 to draw national attention to critical environmental concerns, and to share the message with communities along the Run's route that humans must live in harmony with the environment.

According to Banks, at the heart of the Sacred Run is the message that "All Life Is Sacred," and that we as human beings have a duty and responsibility to the planet we know as Mother Earth.

"We are watching our environment being destroyed," explains Banks. "If we are to survive as a species, we must begin to make dramatic changes right now. This is a message that our runners will make known in every town and village, and to every person they meet."

Spiritual and Physical Challenges Await Runners

After departing California, runners will travel through Arizona, New Mexico, Oklahoma, Arkansas, Mississippi, Alabama and Georgia. The route will go through 22 mountains ranges, the foothills of Los Angeles, the Mojave Desert, the White Sands of New Mexico, and the panhandle of Oklahoma.

"This year's Run will be unique because it will not be a relay, "said Banks. "Each runner will cover 30 miles per day, resting only every fifth day --a tremendous challenge to the runner physically, mentally, emotionally and spiritually."

Throughout the 105-day trek, runners will show their dedication to the Earth and its people through symbolic gestures and activities.

At stops along their route, Native American participants will collect letters, proclamations and gifts and gather them into "bundles." These bundles, which symbolize good medicine, will be placed into a time capsule and buried at the conclusion of the Run, so future generations will have a reminder of their -responsibility to protect our environment.

In 12 cities, designated runners will plant cottonwood trees to honor Mother Earth. The cottonwood is the sacred tree of the Sundance People, as well as other Native peoples, and is symbol of honor and spiritual growth.

Runners will also share their message during cultural exchange programs conducted each evening of the Run. They will perform traditional songs and dances, and local communities will be invited to experience these displays of Native heritage. And, at each stop along the, local runners will invited to join the day's Run to support the event's environmental message and celebrate Native American culture.

The Sacred Run revives an ancient Native tradition of running great distances from village to village, to spread messages, news and information.

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Page Updated: Friday, January 21, 2005 2:04 PM