Changes planned for annual Shiprock Marathon

Event kicks off Friday, wraps up at Diné College

Noel Lyn Smith
Runners in the half marathon make their way up U.S. Highway 491 during the Shiprock Marathon on May 7, 2016, in Shiprock.

FARMINGTON — Runners taking part in this year's Shiprock Marathon and in the various other races that are part of the two-day event will cross the finish line in a new location.

In 2015 and 2016, the marathon, half-marathon, marathon relay, 5K, 10K and Kids Marathon ended at the Shiprock Youth Complex. But this year, the races will conclude at the south campus of Diné College.

Race director Tom Riggenbach said the course is returning to the campus after a two-year absence, and the location change provides more space for race activities, vending and expo booths.

"The college is such a great venue and advocate for the community," Riggenbach said.

MORE: Marathon continues to promote healthy living

Priscilla Weaver, Shiprock campus director, said the college welcomes the return of the event.

"We open our doors to the whole group of people, and we want them to feel comfortable. We have the space," Weaver said, adding that personnel continue to prepare the campus, and students will be volunteering at the event.

Riggenbach said another change is the new courses for the 5K and 10K runs, both starting at 6 p.m. Friday. The new routes travel toward Shiprock High School, including Blueberry Hill.

Once again, kids will run the last mile of the marathon course to complete the Kids Marathon. Since the beginning of the year, approximately 400 kids have been tracking the miles they run with the goal of completing the length of a marathon.

The Shiprock pinnacle looms in the distance as runners take part in the Shiprock Marathon on May 7, 2016.

"It's kind of a unique way of showing the young runners what it is like to run on a regular basis," Riggenbach said, adding it exposes them to fitness.

As of Wednesday, approximately 260 people had registered for the marathon, 720 people had registered for the half-marathon and approximately 85 teams had registered for the marathon relay, he said.

The course for the marathon, half-marathon and marathon relay runs along Navajo Route 13 and U.S. Highway 491 on Saturday.

Aside from the long-distance running, people can visit the expo and vending areas to hear live music and other activities, including the unveiling of a portrait of Navajo Code Talker John Kinsel Sr. that was painted by Shiprock artist James King. Riggenbach said the portrait is part of a series depicting the surviving code talkers.

"It's not just a finish line waiting for runners," he said about the expo.

Roxanne Gilbert, a program manager for Capacity Builders Inc., said the nonprofit organization will have a booth on Friday but the art fair it was organizing on Saturday has been cancelled due to weather.

Kira Sam, 7, front, and Bianna Maria, 10, both of Farmington, cheer on the runners during the Shiprock Marathon on May 7, 2016, in Shiprock.

"Either way, we will be there Friday," Gilbert said.

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

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