Saturday, May 02, 2015

Shiprock Half Marathon Shiprock, New Mexico Saturday, May 2, 2015 I race walked the Shiprock Half Marathon in Shiprock, New Mexico on Saturday, May 2, 2015 on the Navajo Nation. I was disappointed that the half marathon started at 8:30 AM instead of 7:30 AM as the sun rose before 7 AM and the marathon started at 7 AM. The temperature at sunrise was 48 degrees while the temperature at 8:30 was about 62 degrees. If I could have started at 7:30, I could have finished with the temperature in the low 70’s; however, with the 8:30 start, the temperature was near 80. The skies were mostly sunny with almost no breeze. The course was a point to point road course that started at an altitude of about 5500 feet and finished with an altitude of around 4800 feet. At the start was a half mile uphill climb of about 100 feet which was the most challenging of the two uphill sections of the course. The other was a three quarter mile climb of about 50 feet after mile 3. The rest of the course was downhill as there was no level parts. The first 7 miles was along a single highway that was closed to all traffic that was not connected with the event which featured a marathon, half marathon, 5K, and a marathon 5 person relay. The last 6 miles were along a major highway which had the right lane and wide shoulder dedicated to the participants. There was a sufficient amount of police officers to ensure that the traffic did not deviate onto the course. There were no buildings or side roads for the first 11 miles of the half marathon which went through the desert and featured a beautiful view of the rock formation known as Shiprock. This formation rises so far out of the desert that in can be seen from many vantage points in many surrounding directions that are located more than 50 miles away. Water/Gatorade stations were located every mile except there was only one station between mile 2 and 7. As a result of the high temperature in the extremely dry desert air and the missing stations, I became quite dehydrated and had to slow down somewhat during the last 4 miles for safety sake. The existing stations were manned by enough friendly, efficient volunteers that took care of the needs of the participants. Surprisingly there were many enthusiastic, cheering spectators than parked in the median of the major highway that was utilized for the last 6 miles of the course. The event, which has been held for more than 30 years, was well organized and fun. I did the event in 2011 and it has really grown in size as the Navajo People have really taken up an interest in running that was not there in 2011 and a pride in their community which tackled solving a major alcohol problem which existed in 2011 and was not apparent in 2015. This year’s event had at least 80% of the participants from Navaho or Mexican descent. My trip to the Navajo Nation was quite enjoyable and worthwhile doing.

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