Wolf Runner speeds across the landscape on powerful legs, with practiced precision he leaps over a fallen log never missing stride. He is the most celebrated runner in his village, whenever a message needs to be sent to another village he is the first to volunteer his skills and unmatched stamina for the task. Last fall he traveled nonstop for three days to the northern Cheyenne village, his quick travel saved the entire tribe from a raiding party of Pawnee bent on their destruction. Wolf Runners name was sung around many fires after that, elevating him to the status of a hero among the Sioux and Cheyenne peoples. He is running for a different reason on this day, his lithe body is ghosting through the forest; each footfall is answered by another directly behind him. The warrior who chases him is slowly gaining ground on Wolf runner, mile after mile he has kept up the grueling pace. Wolf Runner has never known his equal in a footrace and cannot help but be impressed with his pursuer. He bounds out of the forest and onto the open plains, confident he will now be able to outdistance his foe.
Exhaustion is slowly beginning to overcome Wolf Runner, never has he run so hard for so long in all his life. Behind him the footfalls of his enemy are drumming closer, he dares not look back, but instead concentrated on his breathing and controlling his weary legs. One misstep will surely spell disaster for the young athlete; finally, he hears the footfalls closing in on him.
Swift Deer can‘t believe he has finally caught up to this Lakota runner, two days ago he burst from the forest intent on counting coup on the celebrated enemy. He was astounded to find that the rumors were true; this young warrior has the gift of strong legs and swift heart. Never in all his years has he been matched by any runner, as he closes the gap on the swift one he reaches out for the youth with a warrior’s hand.
Wolf Runner] feels the enemy’s hand close upon his shoulder, he is certain a knife will soon bury deep into his flesh. But the hand simply touches him and releases, an old warrior stares in his eyes directly beside him, matching him stride for stride and smiling as he passes the exhausted youth. Wolf Runner slows to a walk and stops in the middle of the Great Plains. The old warrior slows and walks back toward him, he signs to the youth that he is Swift Deer a Crow warrior and the fastest runner of his people. He thanks Wolf Runner for the race and for the coup; he has counted on the youth. In defeat at his loss to this old man and for the coup counted on him, Wolf Runner stares his enemy in the eye. Swift Deer steps near the youth and takes the boys hand in his, he touches his own shoulder with the boys hand and walks away.
Wolf Runner rests in the shade of an aspen tree, the old man’s actions still puzzle him, why would an enemy count coup then allow him to count coup back? Respect! The old runner respected him and his ability as a runner! That must be it, he jumps to his feet and takes off at a ground eating pace, he will never forget the old one who ran faster and farther than he ever thought possible, he taught Wolf Runner humility, respect and what it really takes to be a runner on the wild open plains.
Centuries ago, there were men and women whose stamina and running ability were legendary among the Indian peoples, the U.S. cavalry claims that these runner could outdistance a good horse in broken terrain and stories of their deeds survive to this day. Hawk a/ho