Running for life
Hosava Kretzmann (Public Health, '18) was the first American to cross the finish line of the Los Angeles Marathon.
After crossing the finish line at the Los Angeles Marathon, Hosava Kretzmann (Public Health, ’18) collapsed. His lungs burned. His feet ached. 26.2 miles in 2:19:57.01—not bad for a Fort Lewis College graduate who had never run a marathon.
The sixth person to complete the race, Kretzmann, 28, had to be told three times that he was the first American to finish that day. He couldn’t believe it. Well-wishers and cameras engulfed him. Someone draped an American flag over his shoulders while newspaper and television reporters peppered him with questions. He had no idea it was such a big deal.
“It was a wild race,” said Kretzmann, a citizen of the Hopi and Navajo tribes. “I had no expectations. The goal was just to finish the race and qualify for the Olympic Trials.”
Kretzmann was a few minutes shy of qualifying for the 2024 Trials. He is back to running 100 miles weekly to train for upcoming qualifiers. He said everyone asks him the secret to his perseverance. He credits a combination of things: eating right, having a routine, and staying healthy. His family, fiancé, and coach also support his efforts.
“When I run, I run for my family, my village, and my Tribe,” he said. “One thing that has allowed me to persevere comes from a word taught to me at a young age: the Hopi word, ‘Nahongvita.’"
Nahongvita means “to keep going,” Kretzmann explained. In early 2023, Kretzmann gave a presentation about health, wellness, and running to students in Tuba City, Arizona, near Hotevilla-Bacavi, the Hopi village where Kretzmann grew up. Kretzmann said running is part of Hopi culture and included in many ceremonies. He told the students that Nahongvita inspires him not to give up even though he competes against professional runners.
“You don’t see a lot of Native professional runners,” Kretzmann said. “I have dreamed of representing my Nation since I was a little boy; hopefully, I can inspire other Native youth.”
Kretzmann earned a degree in Public Health from Fort Lewis College in 2018. He thrived in FLC’s small classes and access to faculty.
“I loved Fort Lewis and how I actually got to know my instructors,” he said. “I wanted to know the people teaching me and have strong relationships with them.”
After graduating from FLC, Kretzmann moved to Flagstaff for a master’s program in Public Health at Northern Arizona University, where he works as an evaluation associate. When he isn’t training for Trials, Kretzmann focuses on encouraging local Native youth to develop wellness habits for healthier living. For Kretzmann, running is an integral part of good health, but good health, Kretzmann said, is more than exercise.
“Health is mental, spiritual, and physical,” Kretzmann said. “Take care of yourself in all those forms and remember that the first step to living a healthy life and preventing disease is starting good habits and following them every day.”