By John Hernandez
Oracle Towne Crier
Darrell Klesch, one of the founders of the Oracle Run, recently ran the Lewis Tewanima Footrace at Second Mesa on the Hopi Reservation in northeastern Arizona. Lewis Tewanima is a running legend of the Hopi people. He was a two time Olympian runner and a silver medalist in the 10,000 meters at the 1912 Olympics. The primarily 5K and 10K race is held in Louis’ honor every year on Labor Day weekend. This year was the 40th annual Lewis Tewanima Footrace.
Darrell came in second place in the 10K in what he called the “youngster” division, 60 years old and above. He is 66 years young. Darrell began running the Tewanima Footrace 12 years ago. He has won gold, silver and bronze medals in some of the races. He said that this year was the toughest race he ever ran. A half mile steep hill climb was added this year to the course. Famous runner Billy Mills, Olympic gold medalist and member of the National Track Hall of Fame ran the race and called it the toughest he had ever run. Chris Hall from Oracle and former Oracle resident Jim Moses now living in Prescott also ran. Chris Hall said it was an honor to run with the Hopi.
Darrell said that the Hopi are friendly and show “tremendous hospitality” every time he visits them. When he first started running the race, he and two others from Oracle, Alan Knight and Steve Storm were invited by a medicine man to have dinner with his family. There was a 106-year-old grandma there. This year, Darrell had dinner with four generations of the same family. There was a young woman with a baby sitting at the table. Darrell asked the name of her child. She told him “Autumn” and she said the first Autumn in the Hopi world ever. Darrell’s daughter happens to be named Autumn although the young lady at the table did not know this until he told her.
Each year Darrell brings his hosts a gift which is a Hopi tradition. Darrell brought a sack of Hatch, N.M. green chilies. His hosts presented him with a hand made Hopi clay bowl. They thanked Darrell and told him that when they run with him and his friends “it gives them strength and brings them happiness in their lives.” “The Hopi people are really wonderful, full of positive spirit, funny, and are great runners,” said Darrell.
Darrell is getting ready for the 31st annual Oracle Run. He won’t be running but will be the race director and will be helping to organize the run as well as act as the master of ceremonies. He will also be the head cheerleader for the race; some consider it one of the toughest in southern Arizona. Darrell has selected this year’s local artist for the T-shirt. Andy Rush, one of the original artists from the group that purchased Rancho Linda Vista back in the 60s will be creating a painting to be used on the shirts that are given to all the entrants and sold at the event. Andy told Darrell that the painting will include a red tailed hawk.
The Oracle Run is one of 12 races that are part of the Southern Arizona Roadrunners (SAR) Grand Prix series. Darrell met and ran with Janet Cherobon-Bawcom who finished first in the overall women’s division at the Tewanima Footrace. Janet was a member of the U.S. Olympic team and ran the 10,000 meters in the 2012 London games. She grew up in Kenya and was an eight time All-American in college. Darrell hopes to get her to come to the Oracle Run and race against defending Oracle Run Champion and record holder, Craig Curley. The race will be held on Saturday, Oct. 26. The race is one of the main fundraisers for the Oracle Historical Society and Acadia Ranch Museum. Participants can register on the SAR website at www.azroadrunners.org. For more information contact SAR at 520-326-9383 or Darrell at 520-896-9609.
To learn more about Louis Tewanima, read the story “Arizona’s First Olympian” by Gary Every at