On October 29, the Salt River Fitness Center and Salt River Pima-Maricopa Indian Community Wellpath Program sponsored the Third Annual SRPMIC Red Mountain Half Marathon. The 13.1-mile route leads runners through the Community, with Red Mountain as the background. This year’s race brought out a total of 146 runners.
Youth Progressive Half Marathon
Prior to the day of the half marathon, the Youth Progressive Half Marathon concluded, which was for children 12 years old and younger. This was a 13.1-mile race completed over a 10-week period prior to the half marathon. Youth were able to walk, jog or run 0.5 miles a day, three to five days a week, for a total of 12.5 miles, and then complete the half marathon with an 0.6-mile run on event day, October 28.
The first-place winner in the Youth Progressive Half Marathon was Elijah Lewis, who ran his last 0.6-mile in 5:24. Second place went to Juanito Valencia, who came in at 5:47, and the third-place winner was Jaya Huma, who came in right after Valencia at 5:47. Twelve youth participated in the event.
Half Marathon Relay
Runners had the opportunity to form relay teams for the Half Marathon Relay, where the first, second and third leg runners run 3 miles and the runner on the final leg runs 4.1 miles. The first-place relay team was Team 76, finishing with a total time of 1:18:51. Second place went to the Indigenous Warrior team, which posted a time of 1:24:03. Third place went to Van 1 Minus 2, with a time of 1:35:19. A total of 20 teams participated in the relay event.
Half Marathon Individual
A total of 56 individual runners entered the race this year. The top three men were Wayne Sekaquaptewa, taking first place with a time of 1:29:04; Rick Balderas, logging a time of 1:29:56; and Dion Begay, who came in third with a time of 1:33:08.
The women’s top three finishers were Janis Zahne, taking first place with a time of 1:43:35; Caroline Sekaquaptewa, taking second with a time of 1:48:25; and Kristin McPhie, who placed third with a time of 1:54:44.
The event ended with an awards ceremony. individual runners who finished in first through third place received a Native pottery trophy, and the relay team members received fold-out chairs with the Red Mountain Half Marathon logo.
“I think the example that you are setting is very important—that example is being set as far as your health,” said SRPMIC Vice-President Martin Harvier as he gave closing remarks to the runners after the awards ceremony. “I had the opportunity to attend a national health conference where a lot of the Native leaders attended.
One of the concerns was the … diabetes that the Native American people are suffering. A lot of the studies say that exercise and diet are the ways to curb diabetes [the] problems that we are having.”
The Salt River Fitness Center would like to thank the volunteers and spectators who came out to help cheer on the runners. Volunteers and those manning the water stations were: Fatherhood Program, Senior Steppers, Salt River High School ROTC, Young Marines, Youth Transition Program, SRPMIC Royalty, Edna Helmuth, Louella Garnette, Margaret Miles, Michelle Kuhn, Stan Overturf, Cindi Coops, Chris Lopez, Avarae John, Antonio Enos, Paul Martinez and Martin Harvier. Also, the Center recognizes the Community Wellness Strategy Team (Toni Harvier, Janet Johnson, Yvonne Schaaf, Martina Ashley, Rachel Seepie and Jason Seepie) and gives a huge thank-you to Red Rock Co. (Kimo Seymour, Andy Bellino, John Sellinger and two other staff) for timing the event once again.
“Without all the volunteers, this event wouldn’t be possible,” said Salt River Fitness Center Physical Fitness Specialist Michelle Long.