And the winners are...

Top individual males
1. Shaun Martin, 31, of Chinle, Ariz. - 2:42:36
2. Steven Ovah, 28, of Whiteriver, Ariz. - 3:01:19
3. Lyonel Slim, 24, of St. Michael s, Ariz. - 3:04:05
4. Terrence Spencer, 17, of PiƱon, Ariz. - 3:04:10
5. Alex Lovesee, 47, of Albuquerque - 3:13:42

Top individual females
1. Christine Garves, 40, of Albuquerque - 3:20:49
2. Tennille Taylor, 34, of Farmington - 3:28:29
3. Jessica Purcell, 33, of New York - 3:29:42
4. Jennifer Jackson, 31, of Albuquerque - 3:31:44
5. Michelle Grey, 26, of Flagstaff - 3:35:30

1. Juwan Nuvayokva, 33, of Keams Canyon, Ariz. - 1:13:21
2. Trent Taylor, 32, of Mesa, Ariz. - 1:16:15
3. Alvin Begay, 23, of Ganado, Ariz. - 1:16:20
4. Carlos Sanchez, 46, of Albuquerque -1:22:48
5. Teo-Sea White, 26, of Lukachukai, Ariz. - 1:23:39

1. Shane Charley, 16, hometown not listed - 48:16:8
2. Cyphrus Lee, 15, of Flagstaff, Ariz. - 49:24:6
3. Nicholas Mander, 24, of Boulder, Colo. - 49:54:1
4. Tom Meschall, 39, of Albuquerque - 50:27:6
5. Kenneth Benally, 54, of Shonto, Ariz. - 51:21:0

SHIPROCK — It was no surprise when Shaun Martin, a lanky, red-haired 31-year-old with a bandana wrapped around his head like a ninja, was the first individual to turn the corner in the Shiprock Marathon on Saturday.

Martin, of Chinle, Ariz., won the Shiprock Marathon for the fifth consecutive time.

"I didn't run 10 steps without someone clapping, cheering or honking," Martin said.

About 1,500 participants ran the marathon, half-marathon, 10K, relay race and the children's race in Shiprock.

Martin won the marathon in 2 hours, 42 minutes and 36 seconds, slightly more than his time last year of 2 hours, 34 minutes and 57 seconds.

The marathon is one of his favorite's, he said, because it is the only one on the Navajo Nation.

"It's home. You gotta run this one," said Martin, who grew up in Page, Ariz.

The course spanned 26.2 miles between Red Valley, near the New Mexico-Arizona state border, to the town of Shiprock, at Diné College. The course passed by Shiprock, the monument, as well.

A slight breeze cooled the runners, though temperatures reached the upper 70s.

Many of the runners were painted in sunblock and sweating profusely shortly into the race.

For Martin, though, a teacher at Chinle High School, the run was only a warm up for a 50-mile run, the Jemez Mountains Trail Run, he is set to do in two weeks.

Still, his pace was impressive, and he led the group by nearly 20 minutes, seemingly unfazed by the course.

"It's the only road race I run all year," he said, explaining that he is accustomed to running on trails and in the dirt. "Sometimes, I run on the highway but only to cross it."

Martin, who is half Navajo, has become somewhat of a celebrity athlete on the Navajo Nation, a tribe that has struggled with maintaining its health in the past few decades. Diabetes and alcoholism are particularly common in the area.

Martin, though, has worked to promote health, of both body and mind, for many Navajo youth.
Sarah Heredia makes her way up Indian Service Route 13 as she competes in the Shiprock Marathon on Saturday.
Sarah Heredia makes her way up Indian Service Route 13 as she competes in the Shiprock Marathon on Saturday. (Jon Austria/The Daily Times)
A former cross-country coach at his high school, he helped the team win several state titles, and he has helped many of the athletes earn college scholarships over the years.

While he only coaches students on the side now, he is still a role model for many others. Several people came up to him Saturday, asking him to sign their bib numbers from their race or giving him their own as a gift.

Even Outside Magazine profiled him after a writer spent three years getting to know Martin. Martin's story, as well as that of his father, who ran 100 miles over three nights to get away from the Leupp Boarding School, both reflect how ingrained running was in the Navajo culture.

"This is home. This is our land. I almost feel obligated to run this race," Martin said, adding how proud he was to see the community turnout for a race that is set in the middle of a relatively desolate landscape.

Still, that is why many of the runners enjoyed the run.

"I usually practice at home, in the ditches, in the sand," said Terrence Spencer, 17, a student at Piñon High School in Piñon, Ariz.

He likes running the vast expanse that is the high desert on the Navajo Nation.

Spencer, who runs about 10 miles daily, remembers struggling with his weight about four years ago. He started running as a way to lose weight.

"My grandpa ran in marathons in the past. I did it for him," Spencer said.

Many of the other runners agreed, saying that they are most comfortable running in the dirt and sand.

"The pavement just punches your legs," said Dustin Abeita, 20, a member of the Diné College cross-country team who is originally is from Smith Lake.

Abeita, who competed in the relay with four other team members, said the Shiprock Marathon was particularly hard because so much of it was on paved road.

The marathon, though, is gaining more interest each year. Runners came from all over New Mexico, Arizona and Colorado. Others came from as far as Tennessee and New York.

"The event has just gotten better and better," Martin said.


Jenny Kane can be reached at; 505-564-4636. Follow her on Twitter @Jenny_Kane.