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Running connects Penobscots to heritage

Posted by Matt Pepin, BostonGlobe.com Staff  April 17, 2012 01:47 PM

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Dale Lolar, Bob Bryant and Barry Dana posed at the finish line on Sunday, then all three reached it again in Monday's Boston Marathon. (Caleb Raynor/TNC)

Running is one way Barry Dana feels a special connection to his heritage as a member of the Penobscot Indian Nation in Maine.

"Running has been part of my culture for thousands of years. It's like the Kenyans today, it was like a way of life," Dana said. "In my life, I've tried to make it part of my lifestyle."

Dana got the opportunity to use running to improve things for the Penobscot Nation on Monday in the Boston Marathon. Dana and two other men associated with the Penobscots ran to raise money for the Penobscot River Restoration Project, an effort to remove two dams and add fish ladders to other areas to restore the river to a former state.

"The Penobscot River is our indigenous homeland, I grew up on the reservation right there in the middle of the river. But I never knew it like my ancestors," Dana said.

Dana, a former chief of the Penobscot Indian Nation, Dale Lolar, a counselor to the nation, and Bob Bryant, whose wife and children are Penobscot members, all ran on charity numbers obtained by the Nature Conservancy, which is assisting in the project.

Their goal was $20,000. According to their fund-raising web site, they're at just over $13,000.

But for those who pledged, Dana, Lolar and Bryant held up their end of the bargain. All three finished the marathon -- Dana in 3:54:11, Lolar in 3:58:18 and Bryant in 4:35:19. An added connection to history for the three men was that this year's Boston Marathon was the 100th anniversary of a second-place finish by a Penobscot named Andrew Sockalexis.

"I take a lot of honor and pride to be asked to be a part of it," Bryant said.

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Look for updates, news, analysis and commentary from the following.
  • Steve Silva, Boston.com senior producer, two-time Boston Marathon sub-four hour runner.
  • Ty Velde is a 16-time Boston qualifier who's completed 12 consecutive Boston Marathons and 25 marathons overall. Ty is now training for his 13th Boston run and will provide training tips for those who train solo and outside, no matter what temperature it is.
  • Rich 'Shifter' Horgan is a 19-time Dana-Farber Marathon Challenge team member who runs in honor of his father, who died of colon cancer. He will provide updates on local running events with a focus on the charitable organizations that provide Boston Marathon entries for their organization's fund raising purposes

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