Thursday, June 1, 2023

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Code Talker 5K runs offer enjoyment, exercise

Code Talker 5K runs offer enjoyment, exercise


After nearly two years, the Code Talker Memorial 5K race and fun run was held on Friday on the Code Talker Trail located at the Navajo Nation Museum.

The run was one of many events held throughout the week of the 74th Annual Navajo Nation Fair. It was sponsored by the Navajo Nation Diabetes program and was federally funded, making it a free event.

The coordinator of the run is Darwin Mitchell, who works with the Navajo Nation Diabetes program and is the recreational specialist for the Window Rock Wellness Center.

“We’re excited that we’re able to promote more physical activities, community events that hopefully will continue this coming year,” Mitchell said.

After two years of hosting virtual events, Mitchell said his staff were ready to host in-person events again. People are still anxious due to the pandemic and Mitchell understands that, but he hopes it won’t keep people from exercising.

This year, staff had to adjust to follow Covid precautions, such as having runners start as soon as they’re ready in order to keep people from forming large crowds.

“I just want people to get back out and exercise,” Mitchell said. “We’re leading in diabetes, alcoholism, heart attacks and high-blood pressure. But the reason why we’re leading in those categories are because of lack of exercise.

“Get out and exercise,” he said, “that’s your only natural medicine and natural immunity.”

The course follows the Code Talker Trail, a weaving course through trees and rugged terrain that eventually elevates. Checkpoints are set up along the route where water and snacks were handed out.

The weather was cool with dense cloud cover, but adding a threat of rain as thunder rumbled in the distance.

Also in the distance, music and cheers can be heard from the fairgrounds as the route offers scenic views over Window Rock.

Participants chose to either run, jog or walk with many people of various ages taking part, including kids.

One runner was Ed Silversmith, 75, Red Lake Chapter in Navajo, New Mexico. He completed running the 5K.

He is a veteran who served in Korea and Vietnam as an Airborne Ranger.

Despite his age and having had surgery on both his knees due to wartime injuries, he makes time to participate in runs like this.

He runs to stay healthy, saying running is a part of life.

He spent many years marching with heavy equipment in the army, and before that, he’d walk 5 to 10 miles a day herding sheep when he was a boy.

“Man, its great,” Silversmith said. “I’m glad I’m running again…I’m glad we’re having these events again. We should have more ‘Just Move It’ events too, but we need more of them. People are just getting lazy. They need to run again and get back into shape.”

Silversmith encourages people to stay healthy and active like his family. His mother still herds sheep to this day and was in attendance as Silversmith ran.

He encourages the younger generation to start exercising and become strong, saying there are still threats against them and their homes and they need to be able to defend themselves.

Another runner who ran that day was Aaron Long of the Bitterwater Clan, from Klagetoh, Arizona.

Long had recently finished his service in the Marine Corps and says he runs in events to represent veterans in his community.

This is his first-time taking part in the running events in the fair. For this race, he completed the full 5K run while wearing his military boots.

“It was great, it was like one goal after another,” Long said. “Usually, it’s very easy to tell how far it’s going to be, but this one was a little random. It was a little hard to tell so it was something new.

“Which was really challenge, too, mentally,” he said, “because I didn’t know how far each point would be, but I just kept thinking, ‘Just keep going and stay on track.’”

He enjoys running, often making goals for the activity, constantly challenging himself to run faster or farther than before.

“I’m constantly making goals and constantly hitting those goals and after those runs are over, I’ll transfer that into my life,” he said. “That’s what I like about running.”

He’s glad to see the fair happening again and that people are taking the opportunity to come out and enjoy the safe world they have and celebrate.

“I’m very thankful to be able to exercise my health and my fitness opportunities,” he said. “I like these opportunities to meet other veterans and also to network and meet other people in the area and really just experience new places.

“I’m just really thankful for all the blessings that I have received over the years.”

About The Author

David Smith

David Smith is Tódích’íi’nii and born for Dziłt’aadí. He is from Chinle and studied at Northern Arizona University. He studied journalism and English for five years while working part-time for NAU’s NAZ Today and the Lumberjack newspaper. After graduating in 2020, he joined the Navajo Times as a sportswriter for two years before leaving in September 2022. Smith returned in February 2023.


Weather & Road Conditions

Window Rock Weather


56.0 F (13.3 C)
Dewpoint: 28.9 F (-1.7 C)
Humidity: 36%
Wind: South at 8.1 MPH (7 KT)
Pressure: 30.04

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