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Running series starts at Four Corners Monument

Noel Lyn Smith
nsmith@daily-times.com
A group of runners participate in the Four Corners Quad Keyah Marathon Series on Thursday at the Four Corners Monument near Teec Nos Pos, Ariz.

FOUR CORNERS MONUMENT — Starting this morning in freezing temperatures, the site where four states meet provided a unique challenge for runners to complete four half-marathons or marathons in four days in all four states.

The Four Corners Quad Keyah Marathon Series is part of the Navajo Parks Race Series, a collaborative effort started in 2015 by NavajoYES and the Navajo Parks and Recreation Department to promote community wellness and lifelong fitness by hosting 10K races, half-marathons and full marathons on tribal land.

The race is designed to have participants complete either a half-marathon or a marathon course that starts and ends at the Four Corners Monument.

Today's course guided runners into Arizona, followed by Utah on Friday, Colorado on Saturday and New Mexico on Sunday.

Los Angeles resident Maggin Brugal, who drove 11 hours to run in the half-marathon, stood inside the large white tent set up near the monument.

Maggin Brugal of Los Angeles, Calif., runs in the Four Corners Quad Keyah Marathon Series on Thursday at the Four Corners Monument near Teec Nos Pos, Ariz.

"I like to do races that have a coolness factor to it. The idea of kind of being in the same place but you're hitting four states is, to me, kind of cool," she said after fastening her race bib.

Brugal, 47, has participated in half-marathons but never one that consisted of running back-to-back courses in four days.

"I figured go big or go home," she said.

As part of her training, she ran up to 12 miles for at least three days in a row. She said the training helped build endurance as well as helping her recognize the signs of fatigue.

"I want to finish and finish strong all four days, that's pretty much my focus," Brugal said.

Just before the start time of 9 a.m. the National Weather Service station at the Cortez-Montezuma Airport in Colorado recorded a temperature of 21 degrees.

To cope with the cold temperatures a majority of runners wore long sleeve shirts, tights, beanies, and gloves while a few runners wore shorts.

Andy Pannell, 43, of Sulphur, Okla., was warming up his body by stretching near his vehicle.

Andy Pannell of Sulphur, Okla. participates on Thursday in the Four Corners Quad Keyah Marathon Series at the Four Corners Monument near Teec Nos Pos, Ariz.

He decided to participate in the marathon because it would help him achieve his goal of running in each state.

"My birthday is coming up. I told everybody what I wanted for my 44th birthday is to run in four states in four days," Pannell said.

To help with travel expenses, he received sponsorship from three businesses and monetary donations from family members.

This is not the first time Pannell completed a marathon repetitively, last year he ran across Oklahoma in a route that began in Kansas and concluded in Texas in 11 days, five of those routes were 26.2 miles.

Four Corners Quad Keyah Marathon Series race organizer Tom Riggenbach, center, talks to race participants before the start of the marathon on Thursday at the Four Corners Monument near Teec Nos Pos, Ariz.

"I'm just a runner in general. I think that marathons are the payoff, the ultimate payoff for all your hard work," he said.

For most runners, such as Green Bay, Wis. resident Henry Ruede, the race added to their overall marathon count.

At the completion of today's race, Ruede, 66, said he will have finished his 1,229 marathon, an achievement that includes running on seven continents.

Terry Goodin, 70, traveled to the monument from Tsé Lichíí Chapter, located south of Gallup.

Goodin started running 11 years ago and supports NavajoYES as much as possible, including sharing information about the series within the running community.

From left, Liz Gmerek, Kevin Brosi and Clint Burleson take a break at a water station on Thursday during the Four Corners Quad Keyah Marathon Series at the Four Corners Monument near Teec Nos Pos, Ariz.

"I just love running in my old age. ... I got sand in my shoes and I haven't quit," Goodin said.

Before starting the race, runners gathered inside the tent to hear from Tom Riggenbach, the race director, who provided details about the course.

"Are you ready to do this? All right, let's get moving. You'll warm up quick," he said before escorting participants from the tent to the start line, where they gathered in the Arizona corner to hear the countdown.

Noel Lyn Smith covers the Navajo Nation for The Daily Times. She can be reached at 505-564-4636.

Competitors in the Four Corners Quad Keyah Marathon Series start their race on Thursday at the Four Corners Monument near Teec Nos Pos, Ariz.