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Just after he finished the Los Angeles Marathon on Sunday, Hosava Kretzmann (Hopi/Navajo) was told by a marathon official that he was the first American and sixth person to cross the finish line. He could hardly believe it. 

The 28-year-old finished the 26.2-mile race in a time of 2:19:55. 

Incredibly, it was the first full marathon Kretzmann had ever run. On Sunday, he was among 22,000 runners who participated in the Los Angeles Marathon. 

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“The official picked me off the ground. I used all my strength to stand and make my village and ancestors proud!” Kretzmann told Native News Online. “I won’t ever forget the moment when the American flag was draped around me. It brings me to tears just thinking about it.”

Kretzmann was speaking of the village of Hotevilla, Arizona on the Hopi Indian Reservation. While being proud of both Hopi and Navajo, he is a tribal citizen of the Navajo Nation.

“I felt relieved, because I did not give up. I told myself 'Nahongvita!' which in Hopi means, ‘Don’t give up! Give it your all! Give it everything!’ And then I collapsed at the end. It was so painful when I pushed the last half mile, uphill to the finish. My legs truly have never felt that much pain after running,” Kretzmann said.

Hosava Kretzmann took a selfie at the conclusion of the Los Angeles Marathon. (Photo/Special to Native News Online - Hosava Kretzmann)

“I’ve never been given as much attention for my running. I am always just part of the pack,” Kretzmann said. 

Sunday’s marathon route was laced with iconic Los Angeles sites. It  ran through legendary Los Angeles-area neighborhoods, beginning at Dodger Stadium and running through Chinatown, Hollywood, Beverly Hills, and Brentwood passing famous landmarks such the Los Angeles City Hall, the Dolby Theater in Hollywood, historic Route 66, and Beverly Hills’s Rodeo Drive.

Kretzmann said he doubted himself at the beginning of the marathon. He said while he had never run a full marathon prior to Sunday, he has been training with long runs for the past two years to gain endurance for long distance running.

“I doubted because before any race I thought to myself, ‘What am I doing here? I shouldn’t be here.’ Then the gun goes off at the start and that negative thought quickly dissolves and I realize, I’m right where I should be, representing my tribes (Hopi and Dinè) as a runner,” Kretzmann explained. 

Kretzmann says he hopes his finish will inspire more Native youth to run, to pursue their dreams, their passions, and know that they can occupy any space, whether in sports, or in the workplace/academic setting. 

A high achiever, Kretzmann is an evaluation associate in the office of the vice president for research at Northern Arizona University in Flagstaff, Arizona. He has over four years of experience working with several and internal grant funded projects. He holds a bachelor’s degree in public health and cellular/molecular biology from Fort Lewis College in Durango, Colorado and a master’s of public health with a focus in Indigenous health from Northern Arizona University. 

His position at the university allows him to interact with Native American students. 

“My goal is to get more Native American students involved in STEM programs,” Kretzmann said.

Now that the Los Angeles Marathon is over, Kretzmann has an aspiration to qualify for the Paris 2024 Summer Olympics in France. 

“I have come close, but haven’t quite made it yet,” Kretzmann said. 

Sunday's incredble accomplishment should give him the confidence to achieve his goal. 

NOTE: Kretzmann will be the guest on Native News Online's Native Bidaské (Spotlight) on Friday, March 24, 2023 at 12 noon - EDT on Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube.

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The Native News Health Desk is made possible by a generous grant from the National Institute for Health Care Management Foundation as well as sponsorship support from the American Dental Association. This grant funding and sponsorship support have no effect on editorial consideration in Native News Online. 
About The Author
Levi Rickert
Author: Levi RickertEmail: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
Levi "Calm Before the Storm" Rickert (Prairie Band Potawatomi Nation) is the founder, publisher and editor of Native News Online. Rickert was awarded Best Column 2021 Native Media Award for the print/online category by the Native American Journalists Association. He serves on the advisory board of the Multicultural Media Correspondents Association. He can be reached at [email protected].