Photographs by Matthew Sakiestewa Gilbert
I arrived at the village of Shungopavi at 5:30 in the morning. A crowd of people gathered at the baseball field. An event volunteer welcomed everyone to the race and gave instructions to the runners.
“The 10K race will begin in 20 minutes” he announced.
A large camera and flash hung around my neck. “Hey, are you with the press?” one man asked. “No, ” I replied, “I am working on a project with the Hopi Cultural Preservation Office on runners. I’m here to photograph the event.”
“The 10K race will begin in 5 minutes” the person behind the megaphone announced.
The runners gathered around the start line. The race had officially begun. Ten seconds later, the runners were gone.
I made my way to the southeast side of the village. The sun had not yet risen over First Mesa. In the valley below, a running trail etched its way through the rocky landscape.
“Any sight of the runners” I asked. “Not yet” a man replied. Everyone waited.
After 25 minutes, the first runner appeared in the distance. It was Hopi runner Juwan Nuvayokva from Oraivi. He ran with ease and strength, showing few signs of fatigue.
On the opposite end of the village 5K runners were climbing their way up the mesa. I arrived to see my father make the final push to the top.
Back at the baseball field the 1 and 2 mile fun runs had started. Children of all ages ran toward the camera.
People clapped and cheered as the youngest runner approached the finish. It was a perfect way to end the race.
Matthew Sakiestewa Gilbert
Throughout the week I will be adding more photographs to the slideshow, so be sure to check back.
If you or a family member are pictured in the above slideshow, and you would like a high resolution copy of the photograph, please email me at email@example.com. I want to also extend a special thanks to Bonnie Talakte, Catherine Talakte, and other event organizers for granting me permission to photograph the 37th Annual Louis Tewanima Footrace on Second Mesa.