Tribal member to run Benge Route of Trail of Tears

by Dec 12, 2017SPORTS di-ne-lv-di-yi0 comments





Around 1,200 Cherokee people walked from an area near Fort Payne, Ala. to Oklahoma on what is known as the Benge Route of the Trail of Tears.  Kallup McCoy II, an EBCI tribal member, is going to run that route this spring.

McCoy, a former addict who has since started the Rez Recovery Riders group, will start his run in the middle of May 2018 at the Kituwah Mound.  “The overall mileage is 1,131 miles, and I’m going to try to cover that in 40 days.  Barring any injury, I will do it.”

He said the Benge Route itself is not known about by many.  “My ultimate goal is to get some sponsors and to raise awareness for our ancestors who had to walk that route and to raise money to give to various Native American charities and to pump them into my sober living homes to make those as nice as I can make them.”

This will be the first of many extreme challenges for McCoy.

This map, from the National Park Service, shows the Benge Route of the Trail of Tears.

“If I can come out of it unscathed as far as injuries go, I want to try to do the Badwater three weeks later,” he noted.  “I’m just using all of these opportunities to raise awareness and raise money for people that are affected by addiction.  It’s not about me and what I’m trying to do.  It’s about giving back and seeing other people happy and inspiring other people.”

The Badwater, billed as “The World’s Toughest Foot Race”, is a 135-mile ultramarathon starting in Death Valley California.  McCoy is hoping to qualify for this event through his run to Oklahoma.

Contrary to what you might think, running is not McCoy’s favorite thing in the world, but he says benefits far outweigh any suffering.  “When I run, I get right spiritually, physically, mentally, and so, that’s why I do it.  Embrace the friction and the suffering.”

McCoy added, “The drug epidemic is the modern-day Trail of Tears.  It’s a struggle every day, and we’ve lost a lot of people to it and there are a lot of people suffering.  With that being said, I just want to promote healthy living, a different lifestyle.  When you get your mind and body on the same page, in the same place, it’s unreal what you can do.  A lot of that is just changing how you think about things – find your passion.”

He went on to say, “You work out a lot of insecurities when you’re running.  Your mind’s running from you.  Your body is going this way.  Pray and just try to get them on the same page.”

Recently, he started running a half-marathon daily either on the road or on a treadmill.  McCoy said his trainer advised him to run an hour a day.  “My body is telling me that I can do more.”

At the moment, Deep Creek and the Birdtown Community area are two of his favorite places to run, and he’s going to continue to increase his distance as his run to Oklahoma approaches.

“In February, I’m going to start going to different marathons across the state,” he noted.  “It’ll be nine weekends in a row that I’m going to run a marathon.  The tenth weekend will be an Ironman in Panama City (Fla.).  Then, I’ll have two weeks off and that will take me to my run to Oklahoma.”

McCoy said extreme running can help fight addictions because it helps to strengthen your resolve and tenacity.  “I had someone come up to me the other day and tell me that they had relapsed.  They were disappointed in this and that.  People get overwhelmed, and that’s why I’m always preaching, embrace those things.  Don’t let it take control of you.  You are in recovery.  You’ve already removed that thing that had so much control over you.  Don’t let these trivial things in life have control over you now.”

He encourages people not to dwell on trivialities.  “To worry is to suffer twice.”

McCoy added, “The reason I’m doing all of these things is because I really believe that I’m just carrying out what God saved me for; from all of those overdoses.  If God is for us, who can be against us?”