Running for Running River School is an annual fundraiser put on by parent and co-founder Nate Hansen and supported by countless administrators, faculty, and parents of Running River School, Sedona, Arizona’s only nonprofit Waldorf-inspired grade school initiative.
Moreover, it is an on-going effort that symbolizes the dedication and determination it takes the Running River School community to come together and build a succinct and well-rounded education for children based on the principles of “head, hands, and heart,” not to mention doing so within nature, what RRS considers as its largest classroom.
As we head into the third year of ‘Running for Running River,’ it’s important to understand the legacy it has become, beginning with a short, and quite possibly confused conversation.
In January of 2016, Director of Running River School Guadalupe “Lupita” Pollock asked Nate if he wanted to ever run a marathon. He said he wanted to someday as it was on his “bucket list.” With that, she followed up that question with another.
“Would you want to run the marathon as a fundraiser for Running River School?”
“Yeah, that makes sense,” Nate said.
“How about the Sedona Marathon?” she inquired.
“That makes even more sense,” he said.
Little did Nate know, he agreed to run the Sedona Marathon for a fundraiser, and the event was only three weeks away. Though at first hesitant, Nate built up the miles and crossed the finish line with his two youngest children, Finn and Lily.
The marathon proved to be a successful fundraiser, and Nate fell in love with long distance running. However, as he had more opportunity to train, his love diverted to the trails and he left road running behind. Within a few months he was setting his sights on longer distances on more diverse terrain. The summer of 2017, Nate announced another “fund run,” but this one much more challenging than the last. He announced he’d run for 24-hours through the five wildernesses and vast trail system that encapsulates Sedona. And that he did, March 20-21, 2018, accumulating more than 80 miles.
In March of 2019, Nate is upping the ante by running/thru-hiking the 43 passages of the Arizona Trail from the U.S. - Mexico Border to the Arizona - Utah Border. His goal is to complete the trail in three weeks, logging 40+ miles per day. It’s a massive undertaking, but, in his mind once again, “makes sense.”
“I suppose this too was on my bucket list,” Nate says. “Or maybe I just dig helping out the school my kids love so much.”
As Nate has researched this journey, he’s noticed similarities that coincide more and more with the effort it takes to not only operate a nonprofit, but a nonprofit school. He’s studied the diversity of all of the 43 Passages, noticing the variations in flora and fauna and geology, not to mention history and climate. As years pass and grades increase, as do families within a school community, so don’t different personalities, challenges, and opportunities. As with the AZT, these changes are all apart of the journey. As with life and its unavoidable ups and downs, highs and lows, so come mountains and valleys along 800 miles of wilderness.
While researching the communities the trail runs through and adjacent to, Nate’s begun reaching out to neighboring “Trail Angels” to provide water and aid, if need be. As with the members of RRS, these people are intended to lean on and provide assistance. They are dependable and selfless, and are the backbone of all journeys.
Support varies as well. Sometimes it isn’t a person, but instead reliance on gear and how one can use or manipulate a device. Fastpacking the AZT depends on proper weight and fitting of a backpack, as well as suitability and functionality of a sleeping bag, tent, clothing, and provisions. As RRS has been providing for six years, education is equivalent to the necessary gear Nate needs.
And when we speak of education, this journey will pack in A LOT! Nate plans to carry, in addition to his Samsung 8 Active, a Panasonic Lumix Mirrorless camera and microphone with Wi-Fi capabilities, in order to create educational videos that can be uploaded to a YouTube Channel that Running River School students - and the world - can access for lessons on hiking, backpacking, exercise, diet, logistics, and the various passages of the AZT.
Running for Running River (School) has taken on a life of its own. After this unprecedented thru-hike for a school, Running River School is ambitious to adopt an annual run that will promote the school, as well as outdoor activity and fitness.
In the meantime, Nate and his support crew are not only reaching out to more generous donors who align with such efforts, but sponsors who can assist with the logistics, gear, and food. Amidst significant training, in between work and being a parent, Nate and countless others are seeking other “angels” to contribute or provide and, thus far, Black Diamond, Salomon, and Altra have stepped up to answer the call.
In the end, the run isn’t about the run. It started off as a run about two kids - Finn and Lily.
And from those two kids, to Nate’s two eldest, Jordan and Jessen, in hopes to inspire them and let them know ANYTHING is possible, especially if their old man could do it.
And now, and evermore, Running River School ... and any child who is interested in learning.
For more information, or to provide support to Running for Running River, visit our main website at www.runningriverschool.org or contact Director Guadalupe Pollock at 928.301.3232.