Native runner first American finisher at LA Marathon

Hosava Kretzmann was the first American to finish the 2023 Los Angeles Marathon March 19. (Photo/Los Angeles Marathon via Twitter)

Hosava Kretzmann was the first American to finish the 2023 Los Angeles Marathon March 19. (Photo/Los Angeles Marathon via Twitter)

LOS ANGELES — Just after he finished the Los Angeles Marathon on March 19, 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 run, and he was among 22,000 runners who participated in the Los Angeles Marathon.

“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.

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

The 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 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 incredible accomplishment should give him the confidence to achieve his goal.

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