My running journey only began about 5 years ago and it has definitely been a learning process for me. I participated in my first ever 10K race/run in October 2020, which was sponsored in collaboration with Rising Hearts to advocate for Indigenous Peoples day. It was inspiring, empowering, and challenging all at once. I cried at the end of my run for a number of reasons – I felt connected to the land, I felt the presence of my ancestors, I felt overwhelmed with the challenges, but also the opportunities that Indigenous peoples face each and every day that we exist in this world. Following my first race, I was inspired to sign up for additional races (all virtual) as motivation to keep running and contribute to Indigenous organizations, programs that support Indigenous runners and issues. Thus, in addition to the 10K mentioned above, I participated in the 10K Winter Count 2020 Race hosted by Red Earth Running, the 2021 New Year Challenge race hosted by Indigenous Trail & Native Women Running, and the 2021 Shiprock Virtual half-marathon sponsored by Navajo YES.

Because of my participation in all these races and finally getting to the point of enjoying the feeling of running – physically, mentally, and spiritually, this inspired me to take my running journey a step further as I decided to apply to the Running with Purpose Community Run Club in March 2021. After waiting two months to hear back from Jordan, founder of Rising Hearts, I received an acceptance letter via email and was so thrilled to hear the good news! With that, I am happy to announce that as of June 2021, I am one of 30 athlete advocates and we are a running collective focused on social change and how we use running as a platform for advocacy and awareness of the things most important to us. 

Running with Purpose _Colleen Cooley
Credit: Jordan Marie Daniel, Rising Hearts
Running with Purpose, Colleen Cooley
Credit: Jordan Marie Daniel, Rising Hearts








To learn more about my running journey, check out this blog feature: Rails-to-Trails Conservancy blog