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A Navajo runner finding meaning through trails

Timberlin Henderson, or Timbo, is a Navajo trail runner living in Fruitland, NM. He moved back to the Navajo Reservation after running at Western Colorado University. He recently won and set the course record at Monument Valley 50 miler. He is an All In Trail athlete coached by Joe McConaughy (Instagram) (Strava)

I am Navajo

I am an ultra runner. I am Timberlin Henderson.

I left the reservation for 6 years because I had an opportunity to go to college and pursue running. Recently, I’ve returned from that journey back to the Navajo reservation. Many people in my community don’t think of me as a runner or graph the concept of an ultramarathon. This year, I set the course record at the Monument Valley 50 miler. I’m just developing into the runner who I’ve dreamed of being, but I hope to bring along my community with me through the journey. 

Running has a different meaning for everyone and it gives people a chance to express themselves with not their voice, but with their body. For me running is a way of medicine for the people. It is a way of connecting with one’s self so that we may enjoy this journey in life. Running has many lessons that have us confront ourselves for the betterment of the environment and community. 

I express this by running for two charities called Fundamental Needs and Every Mother Counts. Both of these charities are in need of resources and support for the preservation of future knowledge and culture. With my running I hope to educate and gather support for these two charities so that our future may thrive and our culture live on.

Timbo’s third race at Monument Valley 50m where he won and set a course record

Fundamental Needs - Community Support

Growing up I was able to find a way to help my people. My vehicle for growth was running, but many people in my community lack basic, fundamental support.

Fundamental Needs is a nonprofit organization that provides sustainable relief to communities in need. They prioritize on helping communities with what they truly need most and develop plans from there, instead of coming up with a “one size fits all” solution. 

Their main project that benefits the Navajo reservation is their water project. ⅓ of the Najavo Reservation doesn’t have access to safe drinking water. With there being a shortage of water and only 13 grocery stores on a reservation that covers 27,000 square miles, having this water project is vital for families on the reservation without running water. 

Not only does this project provide water but also education to our Navajo youth by implementing an afterschool program where high school students build and install off-grid water systems. This allows them to gain knowledge and experience, while also contributing to their community positively.

1/3 of the Navajo Reservation doesn’t have access to clean water.


Making a Difference

How is my running making a difference?

Running is an incredibly powerful medicine for me. I try to raise money and awareness for these organizations and their causes. I hope to help educate others on my experiences and to make a positive impact on my community and in the world. I run for more than myself.

All in all, making a lasting impact through running and education/awareness is what I hope to bring to these two charities every chance I get. There is much darkness and negativity on the Navajo reservation to dwell on but adding some positivity may shed some light to a solution that can benefit more than just oneself. Hopefully as their support grows we can further our influence within our communities and help people, plain and simple.

Please consider learning more about these issues and organizations. I’d love to connect about these organizations, as well, if you’re interested in volunteering, donating or raising awareness.

Fundamental Needs website

Every Mother Counts website

Postscript: Timbo hopes to run his first 100 miler this year. Connect with him via Instagram and Strava


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