Upcoming Navajo Nation running and mountain bike races are being held virtually again this year because of the pandemic, officials said.
But organizers hope as more of the reservation becomes vaccinated some events may be held in-person later this summer with added safety precautions.
“The upcoming races will be held virtual again because of the pandemic situation, and whether the summer and fall events will be in person is yet to be determined,” said race organizer Tom Riggenbach, executive director of NavajoYes, an outdoor advocacy and education organization.
Race organizers are working with the Navajo tribal government on a plan to hold live race events with adequate pandemic safety protocols.
“We’re not quite at the point to go in-person, but we are hopeful once everyone is vaccinated, we can hold events live this summer with a lot of safety measures,” Riggenbach said.
Two virtual running events and one virtual mountain bike race are planned for spring.
The Monument Valley Ultra running event will be held virtually March 1 to March 7, and registration is available. Timed running events include 50-mile, 50K and 5K races.
The virtual events will be self-supported and self-timed at a location the runners choose. The 50-mile and 50K must be raced on March 6, while the weeklong 50-mile and 5K races can be done between March 1-7.
The 5K is a timed race with awards, so racers should submit your best time.
The 2021 Tour de Rez Cup Series kicks off with the Beclabito Mountain Bike Race also being held virtually. The race window begins March 1. Riders must be completed and times submitted by the end of March 28.
Racers ride a route of their choice. The route must be 10 miles of trail (singletrack or old doubletrack, wagon route, horse routes, etc.). Dirt roads and pavement are not options.
Trails in the public-access Beclabito Community Trail System west of Shiprock are available for the 10 miles.
There will be no special race marking, support or timing services during the month. The most accessible trailhead in Beclabito is at Beclabito Baptist Church, which is off Highway 64, about 2 miles east of the Sinclair store and Chapter House.
The Shiprock Marathon will be held virtually from April 4 to May 1.
Participants can submit a time for up to four races during the race month of April. The races are virtual, so racers can run anywhere they choose, even in Shiprock.
Participants should run the 10k between April 4-10; the half-marathon, April 11-17; the 5K, April 18-24; and the marathon, April 25-May 1.
The Beclabito Mountain Bike Race is the first of five races in the Tour de Rez Cup Series, which includes:
Hashkeniinii Bike Rac, a 50-mile road race, at Navajo Mountain in late May.Monument Valley Bike Race, a 13-mile dirt road race, at MV Navajo Tribal Park in late June.
Asaayi Bike Race, a 20-mile road race, Asaayi to Narbona Pass, in mid-August.Chuska Challenge, a mountain bike race, in Chuska Mountains in late September.As races approach, a determination will be made by race and tribal officials as to whether the events will be held in-person or virtually.
Running and mountain bike races on the Navajo Nation are becoming more popular.
“The reservation is not always accessible, and these races are a great opportunity to see some beautiful country you otherwise might not ever see,” Riggenbach said.