The Shiprock Marathon is Saturday. And the race is one of many throughout the country that runners can use to qualify for the Boston Marathon.
Since the deadly attack at the Boston Marathon on April 15, interest in the Shiprock Marathon increased, race organizers said.
And it's been reported across the country that race directors are seeing an increase in interest in Boston-Marathon qualifying races because people want to be a part of next year's race.
The Shiprock course, which starts in Red Valley, Ariz., and ends near Dine College in Shiprock, shares little in common with the Boston race other than its 26.2 mile distance. The Shiprock course is known for traveling through a beautiful and desolate landscape far different from a big-city course.
But the Boston Marathon bombing is on the minds of runners as they prepare for upcoming marathons, including the one this weekend on Navajo Nation, said Tom Riggenbach, the Shiprock race director.
"We're getting a lot of questions about Boston," he said. "A lot of people don't know how to comprehend it."
Riggenbach said a barrage of runners signed up for the Shiprock Marathon in the last two weeks. There are currently 1,550 runners from 38 states and five countries signed up for one of the events offered at the race. It's a record number of participants
Lee Zhonnie, the Red Valley chapter president who has completed several marathons, said the Boston bombings have inspired runners to keep running.
"I think a lot of people realize (the Boston attacks) are not going to stop me. I'm going to keep going and keep at it," said Zhonnie, who is running a half marathon this weekend. "I've been running for years and no matter what happens it's not going to stop me because I want to stay active."
All marathons require preparations to ensure runners' safety.
Shiprock organizers will have a law enforcement presence throughout the course to block traffic. Medical personnel, who played a key role in treating victims at the scene of the Boston bombings, will be strategically placed throughout the course, Riggenbach said.
"Something like Boston makes you aware of everybody's safety," he said. "But most likely you'll be treating blisters, sunburns and achy muscles."
Ryan Boetel can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org; 505-564-4644. Follow him on Twitter @rboetel.