Runners dedicate half-marathon to Ashlynne Mike

Hannah Grover

SHIPROCK – After crossing the finish line of the Shiprock Marathon half-marathon, Alvin Begay, 26, of Ganado, Ariz., announced that he was dedicating his run to Ashlynne Mike, the 11-year-old girl who was found dead Tuesday.
"The coolest thing was the line of yellow across the desert," said Bev Taylor, whose daughter, Tennille Taylor, finished first in the women's marathon.Runners from around the Four Corners area dedicated their effort to Ashlynne on Saturday and wore yellow in her memory.

Runners cross the finish line during the 33rd Shiprock Marathon on Saturday.

The outpouring of support at the marathon included an honor run Friday night during the Kids Marathon and the release of 500 yellow balloons.

"It just kind of shows how people really do come together," said Tom Riggenbach, the race director.

Runners in the half marathon make their way up U.S. Highway 491 during the 33rd Shiprock Marathon on Saturday.

Begay wore a yellow bandanna around his head in memory of the late Ojo Amarillo Elementary School student he had never met. Begay was the first-place finisher in the men's half-marathon on Saturday and, during the race, he ran passed the place where people searched for Ashlynne earlier in the week.

"I just couldn't help but think about how tough it was and how scary it was for her," he said.

Less than 10 minutes after Begay crossed the finish line with a time of 1 hour, 12 minutes and 30 seconds, his sister, Alvina Begay, 35, won the women's half-marathon with a time of 1 hour, 21 minutes and 18 seconds. Like her brother, Alvina Begay dedicated her race to Ashlynne Mike. Their brother, Rayme Begay, 30, also ran the race in memory of Ashlynne Mike.

The Shiprock pinnacle looms in the background during the 33rd Shiprock Marathon on Saturday.

Alvina Begay said she has not been running much recently and didn't know what her fitness level was, so she was surprised to win the race.

She decided to enter the half-marathon and run in memory of Ashlynne Mike.

"I just felt like I have the power to run, and I can use it for good," she said.

Tennille Taylor of Farmington, left, receives congratulations from her mom, Bev Taylor, after being the first woman to cross the finish line during the 33rd Shiprock Marathon on Saturday.

Tennille Taylor said the race took on a somber feel this year compared to when she ran it in 2013. She said a memorial had been set up along the course.

The Farmington runner has competed in races across the country, including the Boston Marathon. She said the Shiprock Marathon is different because it is more solitary.
"It allows you to really love this race for itself," she said.

Hannah Grover coves Aztec and Bloomfield, as well as general news, for The Daily Times. She can be reached at 505-564-4652.