‘I’m a badass’

C-Springs runner ascends beyond doubt


Hikers with unfurled Navajo Nation flag atop Pikes Peak.

JoAnn Barton-Lambert holds the Navajo Nation flag at the finish line of the Pikes Peak Ascent race held Aug. 19 in Colorado Springs, Colorado. Barton-Lambert is originally from Tohatchi and finished in a time of 5:23.08.

There was once a time when racing around the sheep corral was enough for JoAnn Barton-Lambert.

Her older brothers were avid track and field runners, and put together a makeshift track at their home in Tohatchi, where she learned to run.

“It was just my brother, he would set up a track and we’d just race around like we’re at the track meet,” Barton-Lambert said. “I always knew I was going to be running.”

She ran here and there throughout her life, but only recently decided to take her running to a higher level — 7,815 feet higher in elevation to be exact, when she ran the 2017 Pikes Peak Ascent race on Aug. 19 in Colorado Spring, Colo. She finished in a time of 5:23.08 and 52nd in her age division.

It was by far Barton-Lambert’s most challenging race, and one off of her bucket list.

“I was just a spectator for two years. I just didn’t think I could do it,” she said. “It was an unbelievable feat. If you stand on top of that mountain, it’s just amazing. It just takes your breath away. I cried at the end.”

Barton-Lambert grew up in Tohatchi with four sisters and seven brothers, and is the youngest of all. She was raised by her mother Ella Barton after her father died, and graduated from Tohatchi High School in 1986. She and her husband, Phil Lambert, eventually moved to California and later Colorado Springs, where they now reside.

Barton-Lambert said after high school she continued to run in her 20s, then her 30s, and slowed down some when she became pregnant with her only child, her son Vincent Lambert. She said she fell out of running for a bit and made a life-changing realization in her late 30s.

“I saw a picture of myself and I kind of started gaining some weight. Also I had the motivation from my brother and the coaches; my brothers always pushing me,” she said. “In my 40s I needed to get physically active. I needed to keep up with this little guy (her newborn son). I needed to keep up with my running.”

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Categories: Track & Field

About Author

Sunnie R. Clahchischiligi

Sunnie Clahchischiligi has been the sports writer for the Navajo Times since 2008. She has a bachelor’s degree in print journalism from the University of New Mexico. Before joining the Times, she worked at the St. Cloud Times (Minn.), the Albuquerque Journal, the Santa Fe New Mexican, Sports Illustrated Magazine in New York City and the Salt Lake Tribune. She can be reached at sunnie@navajotimes.com or via cell at (505) 686-0769.