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Born Free USA Blog

Born Free USA Blog

Running on the Navajo Nation

Published 05/08/09
By Cindy Haug-West

The Ship Rock in New Mexico

I finished the Shiprock Marathon in New Mexico! It was cold (high 40s to low 50s), drizzly and occasionally full-on rainy, and there was a strong (and cold) headwind for much of the course. The hills (up and down) were exactly as expected, since I had prepared well using the course elevation chart.

And I placed! Third in my age group (women 40–49). My official time was 3:50:34 placing me 34th out of 101 total runners. I just barely made a BQ (Boston qualifying time), since my age group’s cutoff is 3:50:59. I’m not planning to go to Boston in 2010, but it’s satisfying to make the cut, especially in tough conditions.

My trophy is a beautiful Navajo vase, about 9 inches tall, with the race name & year, my division & place, and a depiction of the Ship Rock itself. I’ll send pictures soon.

Critter sightings were few — the animals mostly had the sense to hunker down somewhere warm! I spotted prairie dogs, a few deer, and a few birds. No roadrunners, alas. But even with few animal sightings and challenging weather, the high desert was fantastic. The Ship Rock is awesome and inspiring, especially up close, as are The Hogback (another large volcanic formation) and Mitten Rock (smaller, but aptly named — it looks like a mitten standing on its open end). The Navajo people are very poor, but all the locals we spoke with were open and friendly and proud of their heritage. They were every bit as inspiring as the amazing landscape.

I’m so glad I chose Shiprock as my New Mexico marathon! Five states down, 45 to go. I’ll find out on May 11 whether I’m among the lucky 7,000 who will run St. George in October. As I add marathons to my schedule, be sure to check my page at www.bornfreeusa.org/cindy where you can also make a donation to Born Free USA in support of my ongoing efforts — and thank you!

Still running wild for the animals,

Cindy

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