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Carol Seppilu Named the 2020 AFN ‘Woman of Courage’

Carol Seppilu of Savoonga and Nome runs, she runs for her own life and for the lives of Alaska Native people. Earlier this month she completed the last of three long-distance runs on each of Nome’s roads, totaling almost 250 miles, in the name of hope and suicide prevention.

On Friday, Seppilu achieved another milestone as she was formally recognized by the Alaska Federation of Natives during the 2020 AFN Convention.

Even though she started running less than two miles at a time about six years ago, Seppilu has now run thousands of miles and completed all three of Nome’s roads earlier this season. By living out her new-found love for long distance running, Seppilu hopes to inspire others to keep putting one foot in front of the other.

“It is an honor and it’s my pleasure to be able to run for my people and to pray for them, when I’m out there for seven to 30 hours.”

– Carol Seppilu

Seppilu has been public about her own struggle with suicide, and how that continues to affect her life on a daily basis. She told KNOM that can be a challenge, but also a source of motivation for her to give others hope and support suicide prevention in the Bering Strait region.

Seppilu recounted what it felt like when she finished her first road run from Nome to Teller in July, a journey of 71-and-a-half-miles.

“My goal was to show people that you could keep going, no matter how difficult things get. This run was very difficult and painful, but we had our mind set to keep going and finish, and that’s what we did. I was very happy.”

– Carol Seppilu

Now that Seppilu has completed her goal of running all three of Nome’s roads, she turns her focus to the next ultra-marathon. She’ll be attempting a 100-miler in Iowa in December.

Image at top: Long-distance runner Carol Seppilu training in the mountains near Nome. The mask she wears covers the part of her face that was damaged during her suicide attempt. (Photo from Carol Seppilu, used with permission, 2020.)

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