The Eugene Rowland 30th Anniversary Run: Family using history to create a healthy future

June 11, 2013

Thomas Rowland, 21, of Pine Ridge holds up a Tanka Bar at the Eugene Rowland 30th Anniversary Memorial Run. Photos by Jenice Johnson

The Eugene Rowland 30th Anniversary Run took place in Pine Ridge, SD, the weekend before Father's Day as a commemorative effort to honor its namesake. The event was a 5K run and 1 mile fun run/walk.

Eugene Rowland, born Aug. 13, 1927, was a member of the 82nd Airborne during the Korean War. Mr. Rowland was taken as a prisoner of war on Nov. 2, 1950, after being part of an effort to hold back the enemy. He was held captive for three years and, after his release, came back to his family on the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation. He returned malnourished, which resulted in complications that led to diabetes. Mr. Rowland died June 17, 1983.

A year after his death, his family put together a run as a memorial. Now, 30 years later, they have made it an official event during the Veterans Pow Wow in Pine Ridge.

"We were trying to promote health and wellness. We didn't want the next generation to be laying around passed out in Whiteclay. It wasn't only for that, but also for the prevention of diabetes," Mr. Rowland's son, Derald, said. "My mother told us to put it on -- back in the '80s originally -- and we thought we would continue it. We really want people to have better health."

That request by his mother happened just three weeks prior to the event, so they had to work fast. Derald Rowland's wife, Misty, said they received such a good response, they plan to make it an annual event.

"We didn't have a lot of time to plan but because of the number of runners, we were able to give everyone something. We increased the categories and places," she said. "We wanted people to be rewarded for their efforts to help promote good health and we gave out certificates that said the name of the runner to make them feel proud."

The event drew about 150 participants.


Tanka donated a case of Tanka Bars for the walkers and runners, which they received at registration. Organizers also gave each participant a T-shirt with the Tanka logo on the back among other sponsors of the event.

The day began with the 1 Mile Fun Run/Walk portion of the event. Several walkers participated.

A large handful of runners participated in the 5K Run. Each runner had the opportunity to win a prize in first, second and third categories.

Kevin Poor Bear, a local artist, participated in the run and had a strong finish.

Marathon runner Alex Pine, 25, of Pine Ridge was the overall winner of the Eugene Rowland 30th Anniversary Memorial Run. He finishing time was 18:07.

Jennifer Cottier was the first woman to finish the run. She also is a regular marathoner from Pine Ridge, but currently lives in Boone, Iowa. Both the top male and female finishers received a star quilt prior to Grand Entry at the Veterans Pow Wow that followed the run.


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