Hopi first American finisher in LA Marathon
At the 38th Los Angeles Marathon, local Hopi runner Hosava Kretzmann came into the spotlight as he crossed the finish line as the marathon’s first American men’s finisher.
Kretzmann, 28, was just focused on finishing; he wasn’t even sure what place he was in and was certainly surprised when he crossed the line and news crews surrounded him, hailing him as the first American finisher for the race, coming in sixth place overall.
“It was really shocking to be the first American finisher,” Kretzmann said. “I’m very proud, very thankful and very honored to be the first American and you know, the first Native American to finish too.”
While on national television, Kretzmann told viewers he was representing the Hopi Nation and gave shout outs to famed native athletes who inspired him to run.
It was surprising as Kretzmann isn’t one to seek out attention, but he said it was nice to get some recognition, especially after spending a lot of time training. What he really cares about is just running the race, using his full strength and not giving up.
This was also Kretzmann’s first full-marathon ever; he has done smaller racers before but never a full-marathon.
Although a great achievement, the LA Marathon was actually the first step in a journey Kretzmann has set for himself, with his goal being the Olympic Trials.
Ever since he was a boy, Kretzmann was always amazed by the Olympics. He became even more fascinated after learning Hopi athletes like himself had made it. He has made it his goal to qualify.
Kretzmann has been running for years, since he was a young boy when he would run in the mornings as directed by his elders, all the way up to the collegiate level when he’d run for Fort Lewis College.
He enjoys his runs as they help him maintain his physical, spiritual, emotional and mental state. He grew up in Hotevilla and was raised mostly in the Hopi traditions but is familiar with the Navajo culture as well.
Kretzmann’s So’o (grandmother) is Loretta Sequaptewa and his Qua’ah (grandfather) is Raymond Pawiki. His clans are Spider, Bluebird, Bear, and Ball. His grandfather’s clans are Bow & Arrow, Road Runner, Bamboo & Reed and Greasewood.
Kretzmann was also inspired by past Hopi runners like Louis Tewanima, Philip Zeyouma and Guy Makitma. He read books of the subject and embraces the idea of running, how it brings purity and how it is important to start the day; whether its for exercise or prayers. His running is something that is part of his community, making him feel like he is part of something bigger, a long history that he hopes to add to as well.
Running has helped him a lot in the past, giving him a never-give-up attitude that he applied to his life when he was in school and later when he started working.
He hopes his own running journey can inspire other native youth and help them discover the benefits of running.
This in turned helped fuel his decision to try and make it to the Olympic Trails for the running events. He tried training solo, but between that, his job and then the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic he had little time to practice.
His dream was nearly lost after he got into a car accident. After six months of recovery, he considered giving up competitive running. But his fiancée encouraged him to continue running, motivating him to try again.
He found a coach in Olympic Trails qualifier Dylan Belles, a trainer who Kretzmann is grateful for his tutelage and guidance.
At that point, Kretzmann was focused on qualifying through 5K or 10K runs for Olympic Track and Field events, but Bellis believed Kretzmann would be better suited for the marathon.
That is why he chose to run in the Los Angeles Marathon nearly two weeks ago. He was aiming to finish the race in less than 2 hours and 18 minutes, the qualifying time for the trials.
However, he missed the time by nearly two minutes; finishing at 2:19:57.01.
The run was a challenge, he had been to LA before and knew the course would have hills, but he had no idea how intense some of them would be. He was also still getting used to drinking fluids and taking in calories while maintaining a running pace.
Although sad when he saw he wasn’t going to make the time, he took control of his emotions and set it aside, thinking there was so much good going on today to allow himself be distracted by this. He put the negativity aside and ran as fast as he could in the last 200 meters.
Afterwards, he said it didn’t matter if he was the first American finisher or not, all that mattered to him was that he finished and he didn’t listen to the negativity. He was also pushed by the thought that he was representing his people in Hopi, as well as the whole Native American community.
Kretzmann is already training for his next race, probably the Chicago Marathon in October if not an earlier one. He is confident he will qualify, needing to shave off only two minutes from his last time. He plans to focus more on nutrition this next time around and continue pushing himself.
Kretzmann extends a sincere thank you to all of his supporters, including the ones who congratulated him on social media. He hopes he and the next generation of young runners will carry on their indigenous teachings and represent the native community in other events and shine more light on their people. He encourages young native people to be bold, humble and not to give up on their aspirations.
“It’s just really meaningful that we’re still here as Native people; we never left and we never will,” he said.