Running Is Ceremony

Running Is Ceremony
(Native News Today) Muscogee citizen Pete Coser trains at the Mvskoke Dome for his first marathon.



Jason Salsman/Multimedia Producer

Citizen blogs, trains and cleanses toward his first marathon

OKMULGEE, Oklahoma — Ceremony can mean different things to different people.

To some, ceremony is a summer night spent dancing at their ground or at a holiday gathering of family. To others, ceremony may be singing Creek hymns at church or cleansing oneself in a sweat lodge.

For Pete Coser, running is ceremony.

“Running puts me in a place where I feel freedom, and feel like a kid again,” Coser said.

Coser found a love of running through a goal he set six months ago of finishing his first marathon. He will check that item off the list Nov. 18 when he runs the Route 66 Marathon in Tulsa.

To find his why, Coser drew from several influences.

Two years ago, he watched his mother-in-law run her own marathon. He saw her push through a rigorous training regiment and cross the finish line while going through many personal ups and downs.

He also recognized a need to prioritize his own health and wellness. That meant taking a look at anything that affected his being the best he could possibly be for his family.

Coser always craved competition and a physical demand on the body.

As an athlete, he played high school football and college lacrosse so pushing himself in distance running and weight workouts was not too difficult or unfamiliar.

But as the old fitness saying goes, “you can’t out-work a bad diet.” Coser admits, eating clean was a tremendous sacrifice, but it became a priority that ultimately put him on the path to achieving his goals.

“You don’t think about things like diet, but diet has a lot of connections with your behavior, how you feel both physically, spiritually and emotionally,” he said.

Not only is he drawing inspiration in this quest, but he also hopes to provide it to others. As a Udall Scholar and the manager of the MCN Higher Education Department, Coser knows the value of education.

He also understands the financial burden that sometimes comes with pursuing higher education. Coser is running the marathon with the hope of bringing more attention and funds to a scholarship he created for the MCN Scholarship Foundation.

The Everlasting Crown Scholarship provides $1,000 in financial assistance for a Muscogee (Creek) citizen pursuing a master’s and/or Ph.D. degree in social sciences. The applicant must be a parent or guardian.

For Coser, the creation of and motivation for supporting this scholarship came from a first-hand perspective.

“As I was getting my master’s from OU, I had my kids and my wife and there were some times she would have to work long hours to bring in money for our family,” he said. “There were some times where we didn’t know if we had enough to pay the bill or to put food on the table.”

Coser said he named the scholarship the everlasting crown in reference to a Bible verse from Corinthians I, describing a story of the Apostle Paul’s struggle to win something that is eternal.

“He goes to hell and back to win the everlasting crown. That is God’s love, and not a medal that’s temporary,” he said. “And so the everlasting crown in terms of education, is getting your education, something that nobody can take from you.”

Perhaps the most therapeutic detail of Coser’s journey has been sharing it. He provides updates on his training, diet and detailed maps of his running routes through a blog called ‘Running is Ceremony.’

He talks about the mental and physical struggle and the sacrifice of his time in hopes that others can see that it can be done and takes commitment.

“I’m not a long distance runner. I’m just like the average person when it comes to this stuff. I just decided to do something new and have fun with it,” he said.

In six months, he has lost over 40 pounds and has increased his endurance to levels he did not believe were possible. Coser works with MCN Recreation Coordinator and Creek Fit coach Rojer Johnson on workouts tailored to achieve his goals.

“So many people have walked with me during this journey and Rojer has walked every step with me,” he said. “I had to prove to him that I was committed to healthy eating, to a rigorous regiment and sacrifice. When he saw that I was really invested, he met me half-way.”

When Coser runs Nov. 19, it is in prayer and good thought. The journey has not been easy, but is one that he hopes to continue in an effort to improve every aspect of his life.

“You sweat, you go through pain and you go through sacrifice to be better,” Coser said. “For me to continue to be the leader of my family, to be a model for my kids, to be a leader for the staff I lead and to be among the Creek Nation and take my place among the community, I have to continuously improve.”

To make a donation, or for more information on the MCN Scholarship Foundation please call: 918-732-7754 or visit

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