Seattle resident wins Shiprock Marathon

Neil Rao, 31, wins event with sub-three-hour performance

Hannah Grover
Farmington Daily Times
  • Farmington residents Christi Webb and Tennille Taylor were the top female finishers in the half marathon.
  • Local young people took home medals in the 10k and 5k races.

SHIPROCK — A 31-year-old hospital consultant from Seattle won the Shiprock Marathon today, crossing the finish line in a little less than three hours.

This was Neil Rao’s second time running the Shiprock Marathon, but he has finished more than a dozen marathons in the past. His winning time was 2 hours, 55 minutes, 57 seconds.

“This is what I do for fun,” Rao said after the race.

Rao’s average mile pace was 6 minutes and 43 seconds.

He crossed the finish line while wearing a San Francisco Marathon shirt and finishing more than two minutes ahead of the next runner.

Rao said the hardest part of the marathon was the first four or five miles. He said he flew into Albuquerque Friday night, leaving him little time to adjust to the higher elevation in the Four Corners. Seattle is at sea level while Shiprock is nearly 6,000 feet above sea level.

“You’re feeling it the first couple miles,” he said.

Neil Rao approaches the finish line Saturday during the Shiprock Marathon. Rao won the marathon in 2 hours, 55 minutes and 57 seconds.

Rao said he started running the Shiprock Marathon with a friend from law school who lives in Albuquerque.

“You start to develop traditions,” he said.

Rao anticipates the Shiprock Marathon could become a tradition for him.

Daniel Ray, 27, of Morristown, New Jersey, took second with a time of 2 hours 58 minutes and 5 seconds. Jeff Mescal, 52, of Hebron, Indiana, was third with a time of 2 hours 58 minutes and 38 seconds.

“It sounded like a nice, long-term goal, and it’s turned out to be quite a challenge,” Mescal said.

Runner Troy Eid shakes hands with Navajo code talker John Kinsel Sr. Saturday after crossing the finish line.

Both Ray and Mescal are trying to run marathons in all 50 states and finish the events in less than three hours each. New Mexico was the 18th state for Ray and the 41st state for Mescal.

Ray said the hardest part of the race for him was the second mile because it was uphill. Ray’s mile pace averaged 6 minutes and 48 seconds, and Mescal’s mile pace averaged 6 minutes and 50 seconds.

Mescal said the Shiprock Marathon was a great race, and he praised the volunteers and race organizers.

“The organization is top notch,” he said. “You can tell they’ve been doing this for 35 years.”

Other race results

Women’s marathon

Kimberly Bradley, 45, of Littleton, Colorado, was the top female finisher with a time of 3 hours 24 minutes and 41 seconds. She was followed by Desbah Yazzie, 43, of Scottsdale, Arizona, who finished with a time of 3 hours 35 minute and 17 seconds. Amy Flynn, 44, of Chelmsford, Massachusetts, was third at 3 hours 43 minutes and 16 seconds.

Farmington resident Christi Webb runs past the Shiprock pinnacle Saturday during the Shiprock Half Marathon. Webb was the first female to cross the finish line in the half marathon race.

Half marathon

Leandrew Martine, 34, of Ramah, won the half marathon with a time of 1 hour 13 minutes and 41 seconds. Rodell Williams, 29, of Chinle, Arizona, finished second with a time of 1 hours and 15 minutes. Vernard Martinez Jr., 27, of Ramah, took third with a time of 1 hour 17 minutes and 12 seconds.

Farmington residents Christi Webb, 36, and Tennille Taylor, 39, were the top female finishers in the half marathon. Webb finished with a time of 1 hour 29 minutes and 33 seconds, and Taylor followed with a time of 1 hour 32 minutes and 2 seconds. Megan Flesch, 27, of Mancos, Colorado, was third at 1 hour 33 minutes and 11 seconds.

Marathon relay

The relay team Furious Five out of Gallup finished first with a time of 2 hours 46 minutes and 40 seconds. It was followed by the Tumbleweeds out of Peoria, Arizona, with a time of 3 hours 5 minutes and 14 seconds. Reidz out of Ganado, Arizona, was third 3 hours 9 minutes and 55 seconds. Furious Five was an all-male team, while the Tumbleweeds and Reidz were mixed gender.

Daniel Ray receives a medal Saturday after finishing the Shiprock Marathon. Ray was the second runner to cross the finish line.

10k race

Anthony Fleg, 40, of Albuquerque, won the 10k race with a time of 38 minutes and 43 seconds. Arlen Albert, 26, of Telluride, Colorado, followed with a time of 40 minutes and 12 seconds. Harry Chee, 54, of Keams Canyon, Arizona, took third at 42 minutes and 26 seconds.

Tumayah Bia, 11, of Lukachukai, Arizona, was the first female finisher in the 10k race  with a time of 46 minutes and 34 seconds. She was followed by Kaydence Platero, 13, of Shiprock, who finished in 49 minutes and 22 seconds. Navaeh Scott, 13, of Lukachukai, took third with a time of 49 minutes and 30 seconds.

Mark Pierre competes, Saturday in the Shiprock Half Marathon. He finished the race in 1 hour, 52 minutes and 30 seconds.

5k race

Tristen George, 18, of Kirtland, won the 5k race with a time of 17 minutes and 49 seconds. He was followed by Dontrelle Denetso, 13, of Shiprock. Denetso ran the course in 21 minutes and 24 seconds. Terance Woody, 16, of Rock Point, Arizona, took third with a time of 22 minutes and 3 seconds.

Winter Eagleman, 10, of Phoenix, was the top female finisher with a time of 25 minutes and 38 seconds. She was followed by Kandis Antonio, 12, of Shiprock, at 26 minutes and 34 seconds. Wendy Figueroa, 46, of Brush, Colorado, took third with a time of 27 minutes and 46 seconds.

A full list of results can be found online at

Hannah Grover covers government for The Daily Times. She can be reached at 505-564-4652 or via email at