Former Chinle coach wins fifth Shiprock Marathon

By Sunnie Clahchischiligi
Special to the Times

SHIPROCK, April 9, 2013

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(Times photo – Donovan Quintero)

TOP: Shaun Martin from Chinle kicks the last leg of the 30th annual Shiprock Marathon on Saturday morning in Shiprock. For the fifth time in a row, Martin took the Shiprock Marathon title and won this year's event in 2:42:36.

SECOND FROM TOP: Dressed as Batman, Vern Jaques from St. Michaels, Ariz., keeps a steady pace along Navajo Route 13 south of Shiprock during the half-marathon at 30th annual Shiprock Marathon. The caped crusader finished the course in 31st place with a time of 1:39:41.6.





As Shaun Martin made his way through the 26 miles of the Shiprock Marathon the last thing on his mind was winning.

Just like the last four Shiprock Marathons, he didn't think about the first-place trophy or all the bragging rights that came with it. He wasn't even thinking that if he won it would be the fifth consecutive win.

"It feels good (to have won), but I'm not too concerned about winning it at all, that's kind of a bonus on the side," he said.

Instead, the 31-year-old former Chinle High cross-country coach was busy thinking about his wife, his children and others waiting to greet him at the finish line.

"Running is important to the culture, I'm out there running to celebrate my life, my wife, my kids, my family, I'm out there celebrating the act of running," Martin said. "The act of running is getting back to the traditional beliefs and daily lifestyles of our people. I'm a firm believer in getting out there and practicing in those traditional beliefs."

Martin finished the 30th annual Shiprock Marathon, held May 4, with a time of 2:42:36, about eight minutes slower than last year's marathon.

Placing second behind Martin was Steven Ovah, 26, from Whiteriver, Ariz., with a time of 3:01:19. Lyonel Slim, 24, from St. Michaels, Ariz., finished third with a time of 3:04:05.

Martin said the Shiprock Marathon was to prepare him for the Jemez Mountain Trail Run-50K to be held on May 25.

Needless to say, he was looking for an up-tempo workout but at the same time he didn't want to push himself too much.

"It took a lot of restraint to hold myself back," he said. "I had to tell myself stick to the plan, I know it's easy, but stick to the plan."

He said the true test to see if he was prepared for the next race was dependent on the how he would fell once he woke up Sunday morning.

"I didn't want to be sore," he said. "Yesterday morning I woke up and I felt great, I got a 10-miler in and just need to keep my miles up."

Martin wasn't the only one feeling good about his race.

Christine Garves, 40, of Albuquerque, N.M., who won the women's marathon with a time of 3:20:49, said she was happy her first Shiprock Marathon win but the race wasn't easy.

"It was a difficult but good a marathon," she said. "It's a challenging one, I liked it, and it takes a lot of focus running out on that road."

Garves said she learned of the race from a friend and decided to give it a try. She said she trained for about five months and felt like it all paid off.

"I feel pretty good about my performance, I was shooting for a little bit of a faster time but I was running strong, had a kick and didn't feel a cramp."

Graves added that the scenery was a bonus to her successful finish as it was something she had never seen.

"It was spiritual, very spiritual for me," she said. "It was beautiful being on the border of Arizona and New Mexico line, seeing wild horses, looking at Shiprock, looking at all the different formations."

Coming in second behind Graces was Tennille Taylor, 34, from Farmington, with a time of 3:20:49. Finishing in third place was Jessica Purcell, 33, from New York, N.Y., with a time of 3:29:42.

For Amber James, 25, the winner of the half-marathon with a time of 1:39:42, the scenery was nothing new but the grabbing the first-place win was.

James, who is originally from Window Rock but lives in Mesa, Ariz., picked up running just over a year ago and winning the Shiprock Marathon was a first for her as new runner.


"I feel pretty good," she said. "I didn't expect to win the whole overall event…"

James said she participated in the marathon relays last year but wanted to switch things up and wanted to see if she was capable of running a half marathon.

"Just seeing if I could do it," she said. "It was pretty amazing because I didn't think I had it in me to accomplish something like that right off, I've had a pretty good support system from my family, I have a good surrounding."

James said she now sets her sights on a marathon.

Coming in second place for the women's half marathon was Megan Crowley, 30, from Durango, Colo., with a time of 1:40:27 and in third place as Tierra Blacksheep, 25, from Ganado, clocking in a time of 1:41:21.

In the men's half marathon: Juwan Nuvayokva, 33, from Keams Canyon, placed first with a time of 1:13:21; Trent Taylor, 32, from Mesa, Ariz., came in second with a time of 1:16:15; Alvin Begay, 23, from Ganado, finished third clocking in a time of 1:16:20.

In the marathon relays the Diné College Racing men's team stole the show.

The team was open about beating Martin's time this year and did so with a time of 2:34:43.

Dustin Abeita, a freshman runner for Diné College who was the last leg for the team, said the team was looking to make a name for themselves.

Abeita said a random team from last year beat them.

"We wanted to beat them back, put our fastest guys together so that's what we did," he said. "Just be out there, we know that we have a good team, a good relay team, if someone wants to compete against us we'll compete against them."

Abeita said his team had the lead most of the way, which made him confident about the win as he ran the last leg.

"It feels good, I feel great now," he said. "I feel happy that we won."

Finishing second in the marathon relay was Racing the Sun from Gallup, N.M. with a time of 2:49:26 and in third was Diné Runners from Shiprock clocking in a time of 2:51:39.

Shane Charley, Jr., 16, from Flagstaff, Ariz., claimed first in the 10K with a time of 48:16, followed by Cyphrus Lee, 15, from Flagstaff with a time of 49:24.

In third was Nicolas Mander, 24, from Boulder, Colo., who clocked a time of 49:54.

In the women's 10K run, Susan Randolph, 23, from Tsaile, placed first with a time of 52:47, Tadgah Parks from Boulder, Colo. placed second with a time of 57:07, Monique Rangel from Albuquerque, N.M. finished in third with a time of 57:19.

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