Shiprock Marathon :Jeff Fultz’s interview

25 Feb 2008 02:20
Jean-Loup Fenaux
Focus on a race Interview

Jeff Fultz has worked with the Indian Health Service and lived on the Navajo Nation since 1991 which has been a wonderful experience according to him. He has served as Race Director for the Shiprock Marathon & Relays for five years now.

Hello, on May 3rd, you’ll be organizing the 25th Shiprock Marathon. Can you tell us where it is located?

The Shiprock Marathon & Relays take place entirely on the Navajo Nation. The races begin nearby Red Valley Arizona, and conclude in Shiprock, New Mexico.

The marathon is now 25 years old. Why was it created in the first place?

Events began through the efforts of several individuals in the nearby city of Farmington, New Mexico. They wanted to “give back” to the native community of Shiprock through developing the races. These original organizers were all active runners themselves, and a race passing nearby the famous Shiprock seemed like it would be an awesome experience.

Shiprock Monolith - Tse bi Tae - Rock with Wings
Credit : DR Ranch

What kind of route have you set up for the runners? How would you describe it?

The Marathon course is a point to point road race. It begins out near Red Valley Arizona at an elevation close to 6000’. The race passes through some beautiful high desert scenery on rolling hills towards the city of Shiprock (elevation 4800’). The 1800’ volcanic cinder cone of Shiprock itself is passed at about the halfway point of the Marathon.

The last 6 miles of the course are flat or on a slight downhill grade, which adds to the appeal of the course. The first 20 miles of the Marathon course will have the road closed to through traffic. Only event vehicles will be out on this part of the course. The final 6.2 miles will have a lane closure of the Hwy 491 to provide a nice buffer between traffic and all participants (and volunteers supporting events).

How many runners do you expect on Saturday morning? What type of runners do you plan to attract?

With the advertisements in Runners World and the good coverage throughout numerous websites, I expect to fill all our competitive events. In the past few years we have had runners coming from most of the United States, Canada, England and parts of Europe. We have even had a runner join us from Asia.

Do you organize other races during the Week-End? If so, on what distances?

We have a Marathon (capped at 150 runners); Marathon Relay – 5 person Coed (capped at 150 teams); and a Half-Marathon (capped at 300 runners).

At that time of the year, what kind of weather can we expect?

Weather is quite unpredictable in the 4-corners region of the United States at any time of year. In 2007 we had snow flurries at the start of the races, the year before it was in the low 40s (Farenheit scale) and warmed up to the low 80s by the afternoon.

Have you planned festivities around the marathon?

We will have Navajo artisans and vendors selling goods nearby our finish line area at Navajo Community College. Music will be provided as well as many various refreshments, massage services, etc…

The marathon finished, what advice would you give a runner who has never been to Shiprock before? A good restaurant, a fancy sightseeing?

There is a great deal to see in the 4-corners area of the United States. We are close by Monument Valley Utah; Canyon de Chelly Arizona; Durango Colorado (beautiful cowboy town with Rocky Mountains all around); The Grand Canyon is a couple hundred miles away on a scenic high desert drive across the Navajo Nation.

In a single sentence, what would you tell the readers of 42k195 to make them register for the Shiprock Marathon ?

This is the only Marathon event of its kind on the Navajo Nation, and the course goes by the ancient Shiprock monolith, called Tse bi Tae -”Rock with Wings” by the Navajo.