On a Mission – Dean Karnazes
Dean Karnazes was inspired by his brother to run in the footsteps of the early settlers along the 21 historic Mission posts in California, from San Francisco to San Diego.
The California missions were initiated by the Spanish king in the late 18th century to convert Native Americans to Catholicism and to expand European territory.
The Spanish had already a few settlements in Mexico and departed from there to San Diego, to expanded further and spread their religion, architecture, art, language and economic growth in the region.
But in the process, local Indian traditions, cultures and customs were lost.
There were 21 missions established in total between 1769 and 1833, which focused mainly on religion and agriculture:
The 21 California missions:
- (1769) Mission San Diego de Alcalá
- (1770) Mission San Carlos Borromeo de Carmelo
- (1771) Mission San Antonio de Padua
- (1771) Mission San Gabriel
- (1772) Mission San Luis Obispo de Tolosa
- (1776) Mission San Francisco de Asís (Mission Dolores)
- (1776) Mission San Juan Capistrano
- (1777) Mission Santa Clara de Asís
- (1782) Mission San Buenaventura
- (1786) Mission Santa Barbara
- (1787) Mission La Purísima Concepción
- (1791) Mission Santa Cruz
- (1791) Mission Nuestra Señora de la Soledad
- (1797) Mission San José
- (1797) Mission San Juan Bautista
- (1797) Mission San Miguel Arcángel
- (1797) Mission San Fernando Rey de España
- (1798) Mission San Luis Rey de Francia
- (1804) Mission Santa Inés
- (1817) Mission San Rafael Arcángel
- (1823) Mission San Francisco Solano
As a result of Mexico’s independence in 1821, the missions were ended in 1833.
Private landowners took most of the areas instead of giving them back to the natives.
The San Antonio Missions are a World Heritage site located in and near San Antonio, Texas, United States. The World Heritage site consists of five mission sites, a historic ranch, and related properties.
Considering the fact that nowadays we have much better food and gear than these early travelers, Dean decided he could easily cover twice the distance. So he would visit two Missions a day and run southward, to complete his journey with the San Diego Rock ‘n’ Roll Marathon.
There was just one minor detail his brother failed to mention: the early missionaries weren’t hiking between missions, they were riding horses.
Nevertheless, Dean went for it; he’d run to help revitalize the Mission system and to promote health and physical wellbeing to a generation that struggles with childhood obesity and a sedentary lifestyle.
‘I just kind of lead by example,’ Dean says. ‘I try to inspire and I don’t try to convert anyone [to running]. I’m really wary about that, especially with my kids. I don’t want to push anyone.’
Picture by Guy Dugas