Verna Volker first started running as a way to improve her health. Over time, however, her relationship to the sport has grown and changed, to become a more personal and powerful part of her life. She started out pursuing road marathons and then moved to the trails, stretching her limits in ultra trail running. As her journey has evolved, so have her motivations.

This is a story about how Volker has shaped her running journey to best serve her, her family, and her community.

Volker is from the Navajo Nation: she clarifies, “My clans are the Tódích’íi’nii (Bitterwater) nishlíi, Hashtl’ishnii (Mud People) bashishchiin,  Ta’neeszahnii (Tangle) dashicheii, and Tó’ áheedlíinii (Water Flows Together) dashinalí.” As she got more involved in running, Volker noticed the absence of stories and experiences of other Native women in the media and online. She decided to help change that by launching Native Women Running, to highlight those experiences and also to support and create community and running opportunities for women like herself.

Volker’s running pursuits have also brought her closer to her own ancestry; running is integral to Navaho culture. This was something Volker had known throughout her life, but she hadn’t felt that connection until experiencing the sport for herself in adulthood; she is now passing that lived knowledge on to her children. In hand, Volker has also discovered the healing powers of running, which have helped her work through past traumas. And she has a strong appreciation for the strength created through developing a supportive running community.

Keep Up with Verna Volker

Instagram: @hozhorunner4

Keep Up with Native Women Running

Instagram: @nativewomenrunning


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