Navajo Code Talker 29K the latest Four Corners race to go virtual amid COVID-19 pandemic

Matt Hollinshead,

FARMINGTON — Amid the recent spike in COVID-19 cases, NavajoYES played it safe by making the Navajo Code Talker 29-kilometer run the latest virtual event.

“Last couple weeks, things have turned sideways again,” said Tom Riggenbach, the Executive Director of NavajoYES. “We explored all the options out there. The final decision came when all the fairs had been cancelled.”

The event, which also includes a 10-kilometer competition, was scheduled for Sept. 13 at the Navajo Nation Museum in Window Rock, Arizona. The new virtual format will be held Sept. 1-Sept. 13.

“They can do the 10K or the 29K… Hopefully, we’ll get folks up for doing that,” Riggenbach said.

Riggenbach said the Navajo Code Talker 29K brings in up to 500 participants that normally congregate the Navajo Nation Museum and that general area.

“It’s fairly compact, which this day and age is not a good thing… Having that many people in a tight area, it would’ve been challenging and not too wise,” Riggenbach said.

Riggenbach also said participants would want to interact with the Code Talkers themselves, which would only make things worse.

Just like prior events, Riggenbach said participants would train on their own time and submit their race times.

“Of course, we want to protect the health of everybody,” Riggenbach said.

To register or for more information on the virtual Navajo Code Talker 29K, email

Riggenbach remains confident the new format will work out well, based how events like the virtual Shiprock Marathon and Race Across Dine’ Bikeyah turned out.

Still, one major question remains for NavajoYES: will virtual runs be the norm for the foreseeable future?

“We’ve been kind of bantering that question,” Riggenbach said. “We’re going to try to do everything we can to keep it interesting.”

Matt Hollinshead covers sports for the Daily Times. He can be reached at 505-564-4577 and on Twitter at @MattH_717.

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