Sacred Mountain Prayer Run

Celebrating the spirit of Indigenous running


Family Run 2k     |    5k    |    10k

The Sacred Mountain Prayer Run represents the intersection between physical, spiritual, emotional, and social wellness, and is one of Flagstaff, Arizona’s longest running events.

During the Sacred Mountain Prayer Run, an individual carries the Prayer Stick, not to be timed, but to run in reverence. The Prayer Stick Runner prays for the needs and wellness of the runners, and for people who are in need of good health. The prayer stick runner is also asked to pray for our Mother Earth, the 4 legged, and the winged ones.

Traditionally set at the foot of the San Francisco Peaks just outside historic Downtown Flagstaff, the run has offered participants varied distances on a challenging and rewarding course. The run begins at Thorpe Park, 245 N. Thorpe Road Flagstaff, AZ 86001. After 36 years as a fundraising event for NACA’s Supportive Services programs, which provide emergency and direct support services for the Flagstaff community, in 2022 NACA returned the Prayer Run as a community event. The Prayer Run has previously been a race event, with timed tracking by Run Flagstaff and Chronotrack, but NACA returned the Prayer Run as a non-competitive run.

The Sacred Mountain Prayer Run is all about cultural, communal, spiritual, emotional, and physical balance and unity, and seeks to bring all participating communities together in observation of these values and beliefs. The synergy of running & spirituality reinforces deep community ties that carry throughout the year while acknowledging and honoring Flagstaff ’s Native American heritage & history. The Sacred Mountain Prayer Run is open to everyone!

For a virtual run, participants will complete their selected distance on a marked course or treadmill anytime that best suits them. Times and distance can be emailed to, or participants can take a picture and tag us on social media. Runner packets are mailed to all virtual participants.

For more information about the Sacred Mountain Prayer Run, please contact Health Promotions Program Manager, Brandie Franco, at

NACA is an Arizona Qualifying Charitable Organization & 501(c)(3). Donations may be tax deductible; a financial advisor should be consulted for your circumstances.

2024 SMPR Sponsorship Booklet

2024 SMPR Sponsors

Nackard Pepsi

2024 SMPR Prayer Stick Runners

Alvina Begay

Alvina Begay was born and raised in Ganado, Arizona. She has a Bachelor of Science degree in Nutrition and Nursing. She also has a Master’s degree in Health Administration. Alvina worked at Flagstaff Medical Center for over 10 years as a Registered Dietitian. She lived and trained in Flagstaff, AZ, as a professional runner for Nike and Nike N7. While competing as professional runner, she represented the Navajo Nation and United States internationally at the World Half Marathon Championships and Ekiden relays. She qualified for three Olympic trials in the marathon and 10K. She also competed in the Boston and New York City Marathons. She placed 10th at the 2007 NYC Marathon.

Alvina still runs daily and currently works a Registered Nurse and Registered Dietitian at healthcare facilities on the Navajo Reservation.

Mariah Zavala

Mariah Zavala was born in Fresno, California and grew up in Tucson, Arizona. She brings a rich cultural tapestry to her endeavors, with roots in the Oaxacan, Puerto Rican, and Indigenous communities, as a member of the Pascua Yaqui Tribe. Mariah completed her Bachelor’s in Public Health, with a minor in Biology at NAU. Community-oriented, Mariah serves on the Indigenous Commission for the City of Flagstaff and the Advisory Board for Girls on the Run of Northern Arizona. She’s an ambassador for the Greater Flagstaff Chamber of Commerce and manages nonprofit initiatives, including enriching summer rafting experiences for Pascua Yaqui youth. In her free time, she enjoys running, hiking, and soaking in bodies of water under the sun with her dog Sugar, barefoot (when appropriate).

Mariah utilizes competitive running as a platform to bring awareness to Murdered Missing Indigenous Relatives and is honored to accept the role of Prayer Stick Runner for the 41st Sacred Mountain Prayer Run.

What does running mean to you?

Watch these videos to hear past experiences from SMPR runners!

SMPR 2K & 5k Route

SMPR 10k Route


Q: What does a virtual run look like?A: Participants will complete their selected distance on a marked course or treadmill anytime that best suits them. Times and distances can be emailed to or participants can take a picture and tag us on social media.

Q: What does the money donated go toward?A: The money goes to NACA’s Supportive Services, which offers various direct or coordinated supports to aid individuals or families in meeting their overall social well-being, with financial or supportive resources, including referrals. You can also donate a separate amount and designate it to one of several NACA programs that would appreciate your support: Reach UR Life Suicide Prevention, the Wellness Center, Lasting Indigenous Family Enrichment, Pathways, and more – visit our website to learn about NACA’s various programs.

Q: What do I receive if I register for the run?A: Paid registrants (5k and 10k runners) receive an SMPR shirt. Walkers in the 2k free family event will enjoy the healthy benefits of their walk/run: an invaluable benefit!

Q: After I register, if I cannot make an additional donation, are there other ways to support NACA?A: Yes! Take a selfie and post why you run, and use the hashtag #NACARun #2024SMPR on your social media channels. Also, make sure to take pictures with your team and tag us @NACA_Flagstaff on Instagram, and @NACAFlagstaff on Facebook!

Q: I am not registered for the run, but still want to support NACA, what can I do?A: We appreciate your support! You can donate to the event by visiting As always, 100% of all donations go toward NACA’s critical work to support the resiliency of the AI/AN community through meaningful change in the social equity of healthcare.

Q: When does registration close?A: Registration will close the day of the run.

Q: When will SMPR packets be mailed? A: Virtual participants will be mailed an SMPR packet as soon as registration is complete. In-person participants may pick up their packet from the NACA Wellness Center the day before, or the day of, the run.

See us on social media!

Follow us @NACAFlagstaff and view #NACARun #2024SMPR