Warriors Winter Challenge pushes runners

Natasha Perez belly crawls through the sand pit at the Warrior Challenge in Shiprock Saturday. She went on to finish the 5K fourth and was the first women to cross the finish line. Enlargephoto

Sam Green/Cortez Journal

Natasha Perez belly crawls through the sand pit at the Warrior Challenge in Shiprock Saturday. She went on to finish the 5K fourth and was the first women to cross the finish line.

With mud covering the course and obstacles aplenty, the stage was set for the Strong Warriors Winter Challenge.

One of the more entertaining five-kilometer races in recent memory, the Challenge, held in Shiprock on Nov. 23, combined classic cross country running with obstacle course elements to provide runners with a unique experience.

Twelve runners from the four corners area competed, navigating through mud pits, carrying sand bags and hurdling hay bales before crossing the finish line.

“We wanted to make a challenging 5K race,” said race organizer Sharon Ticeahkie. “The obstacles are kind of how this area is. We wanted the course to reflect the reservation.”

Finishing first overall in the race was Graham Beyale (30:12). Just behind Beyale were Leonard Chee Jr. (34:05) and Josh Flynn (37:03).

“I had a good time,” said Chee Jr. “The obstacles were tough. I’ve never been challenged like that before.”

In addition to the challenges that the race provided, the event was also intended to promote health for both Native American runners and non-Native American runners alike.

“We’re trying to promote health,” said Ticeahkie. “Especially for Native Americans, diabetes and obesity is high. We want kids to challenge themselves and know that they can overcome obstacles.”

Overall, the race turned out to be a rewarding experience for all the runners involved.

“I was looking for an adventure,” said Joshua Flynn. “I didn’t know what to expect. I had a great time.”

Graham Begale crawls through the sand pit during the Warrior Challenge in Shiprock Saturday. Enlargephoto

Sam Green/Cortez Journal

Graham Begale crawls through the sand pit during the Warrior Challenge in Shiprock Saturday.

Kimberly Pinto does 10 squats at the workout station during the Warrior Challenge in Shiprock. Enlargephoto

Sam Green/Cortez Journal

Kimberly Pinto does 10 squats at the workout station during the Warrior Challenge in Shiprock.