Navajo Nation First Lady Phefelia Nez greets a runner at the Monument Valley Ultra 50-miler, 50K and trail half-marathon March 5. The race is part of the 2022 Navajo Parks Race Series. (Photo/OPVP)
MONUMENT VALLEY, UT. — Navajo Nation First Lady Phefelia Nez was on hand to encourage competitors in the Monument Valley Ultra 50-Miler, 50K and Trail Half Marathon event hosted by NavajoYes at the Monument Valley Navajo Tribal Park March 5.
The race is part of the 2022 Navajo Parks Race Series, taking place in different locations on the Navajo Nation throughout the year.
NavajoYes is dedicated to promoting healthy communities and fit families, according to its website. In addition to the Navajo Parks Race Series, it also has a trails initiative, which creates trails on the reservation with the summer trails crew focusing on trails in tribal parks at Little Colorado River, Four Corners, Assayi, Rainbow Trail and Window Rock.
NavajoYes started offering outdoor adventures for youth in the Shonto community in 1988 and since that time has expanded to offering positive programs and activities for youth across the Nation, which also includes the Diné Bike project.
NavajoYes provides education and outreach, with a series of posters trail guides, which features hiking, running and biking trails on the Navajo Nation. The group also promotes healthy living through health fairs, school presentations, chapter meetings and other events.
Nez said the runners were not only an inspiration to the gathered officials on the cold day, but also to their families.
Navajo Nation First Lady Phefelia Nez speaks to the crowd at the Monument Valley Ultra-50 miler, 50K and trail half-marathon March 5. The race is part of the Navajo Parks Race Series. (Photo/OPVP)
“It takes one person to inspire healthier living for an entire family,” Nez said. “Today, we’re seeing that it’s possible and fun to stay fit in our own backyard, so I encourage everyone to be involved with programs like NavajoYES that promote outdoor activities, especially as the pandemic continues and as the weather gets warmer.”
“As summer approaches, I also encourage everyone to become more familiar with the Navajo Nation by exploring our beautiful tribal parks, while being cautious and looking out for the safety of yourself and others.”
The Monument Valley Marathon events are the largest of the 10 races in the Navajo Parks race series with 50-mile ultramarathon, 50k and half-marathon options.
The March 5 event featured approximately 230 runners, with 49 runners attempting to complete the 50-mile ultramarathon.
“This race isn’t just for young runners, it’s for the runners young at heart,” said NavajoYES President Sharon Sandival. “I’m especially grateful for NavajoYES Executive Director Tom Riggenbach for organizing these races and for the way he encourages everyone to get outside and be their best no matter who they are. These races don’t start the day of the race, it takes months of planning and a servant’s heart to plan, and then come out here encourage everyone for hours on cold days like today.”
2022 Navajo Parks Race Series:
• Last Man Standing at Beclabito – March 26,
• Shiprock Marathon – May 7,
• Asaayi Mountain Race/12 Hours of Asaayi – TBA,
• Code Talker 29K/10K – Sept. 11,
• Naatsisaan Trail Races – Oct. 29,
• Monument Valley Veteran’s Marathon – Nov. 18-20 and
• 4C Quad Keyah – Dec. 1-4.
2022 Tour de Rez Cup Series Races:
• Chil-town Bicycle Classic – March 17,
• Hashkeniinii Bike Race (Navajo Mountain) – May 28,
• Monument Valley Bike Race – June 25,
• Asaayi Bike Race – August TBA and
• Chuska Challenge – Sept. 16-18.
As an advisory board member to NavajoYES, Nez also thanked Navajo Parks and Recreation, Monument Valley volunteers and NavajoYES sponsors for supporting the event. NavajoYES will continue their race series with their third race, the annual Shiprock Marathon May 6-7.
More information on NavajoYes and its programs or races can be found at www.navajoyes.org.
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