Embrace Mother Nature to Get Fit



January 12, 2016

WINDOW ROCK, AZ. – Embrace Mother Nature.

That’s how Navajo Nation President Russell Begaye wants everyone to begin their new year.

‘God has blessed the Navajo Nation with one of the most beautiful scenic places in the world,” Begaye stated. “Mother Nature has carved out magnificent rock formations within our four sacred mountains so we need to go outside and enjoy our great outdoors.”

The Navajo Nation is working collaboratively with navajoyes.org to launch a series of running events and other outdoor recreation activities throughout the Navajo Nation this year.

“If you take care of your bodies, you will live a long life,” Begaye noted. “You don’t have to run, you can also walk. There’s nothing like enjoying our great outdoors with your family and friends. I am strongly encouraging the Navajo people to live a healthy lifestyle, which begins with exercising. This in turn will help you have a healthy mind and spirit.”

Navajo Nation Vice President Jonathan Nez who once weighed more than 300 pounds has made an about face and is walking the talk – he began running in the year 2012 and is a new man so to speak. He said it was a comment from a Navajo youth who inspired him to re-evaluate himself and begin practicing what he preaches.

“I use to hate running, but now, I enjoy running,” Nez commented.

Today, Nez has run several half marathons, marathons and even a first-ever 50-mile marathon at Monument Valley Navajo Tribal Park in early 2015.

Echoing Begaye’s comments, Nez said, “President Begaye and I are promoting healthy living and tourism on the Navajo Nation. We have many visitors who come to our tribal parks, but we don’t have that many Navajo people visiting our parks. We want to show the younger generation that we have beautiful parks in their own backyard. We are working to develop events in places that most people can’t normally see. We are committed to good health.”

Nez is working with Navajo Nation Parks and Recreation, Navajoyes.org CEO Tom Riggenbach, the Navajo Nation Division of Health and other entities throughout the Navajo Nation to plan and develop new outdoor recreation activities not only for the Navajo people, but for visitors.

“My motto is to never leave anyone behind,” Nez explained. “I always encourage runners that they can do it…that’s what we do as runners. And that’s what I want to do today. President Begay and I want to encourage the Navajo people to begin steps to living healthy.”

As a result of their collaborated efforts, a Navajo Nation Park Race Series was developed, which included three running events last year. In the year 2106, it will begin with a marathon, half marathon and kids run at Little Colorado River Gorge on February 6th. The adventure begins at 10 a.m.

Other 2016 scheduled events include the Shiprock Marathon on May 6-7th; Navajo Code Talker 29K on August 14th; Asaayi Mountain Run on September 10th; Four Corners Marathon on October 6-10th; Rainbow Bridge Trail Ultra on November 19th and Monument Valley Marathon on December 12th.

Navajo Nation Parks and Recreation Department Manager Martin L. Begaye said, “We are very excited to launch and promote a series of new events and activities on the Navajo Nation, which are geared toward the Navajo people and guests who visit our tribal parks. The events that were held last year were very successful. We look forward to an even better year in the year 2016. I want to commend all the people who work diligently behind the scenes to make these events come into fruition.”

Nez encouraged the Navajo people to reframe their resolution and reinvest in themselves. He said his new plan for the year 2016 also includes the development of a new Navajo Nation Wellness Policy that will allow tribal employees to exercise during their workday.

“Tribal employees will no longer only have to exercise during their lunch hour. We want to develop new venues to live a healthy lifestyle because we want a healthy and strong nation. Studies show that exercise relieves stress and it will cut health care costs of the Navajo Nation,” Nez explained.

Navajoyes.org CEO Tom Riggenbach said the year 2015 was an empowering journey not only for the runners, but for all the people who worked tirelessly to endure the changing climate and terrain.

Riggenbach who is also an avid runner noted, “Part of the Navajo Park Race Series was built on a great Navajo running tradition. We wanted to develop a health challenge, which is a positive way to address this issue. The Navajo Nation has some of the most beautiful lands in the world. It is truly a magically place, which is why we had so many runners from Europe at our Monument Valley Marathon last year. ”

He explained that at Little Colorado Gorge, intrepid globe trotters and locals will have an opportunity to view and experience 2,000 vertical feet into the canyon then run into a peaceful course of old and new trails.

For more information about how to register for the Little Colorado Gorge Event and other events, contact www.navajoyes.org or contact Tom Riggenbach at (928) 429-0345.

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No Admission Fee at Navajo Tribal Parks on Martin Luther King Holiday

WINDOW ROCK, AZ. – Mark your calendar to visit a Navajo Tribal Park on Monday, January 18th because admission will be free.

Navajo Nation Parks and Recreation Department Manager Martin L. Begaye, stated, “In concert with the National Park Service, our Navajo tribal parks will be open on Monday, January 18th during Martin Luther King Jr. Day and we will not charge for admission. This will be a great opportunity for everyone to enjoy their holiday by exploring our beautiful tribal parks.”

The Navajo tribal parks include Little Colorado River Navajo Tribal Park, Lake Powell Navajo Tribal Park, Monument Valley Navajo Tribal Park, Window Rock Navajo Tribal Park, Camp Asaayi and Four Corners Monument.

For more information, please contact the Navajo Nation Parks and Recreation Department at (928) 871-6647.

Navajo Parks and Recreation Promoting Health and Fitness

Press Release from : October 22, 2015

WINDOW ROCK, AZ. –A haven of unparalleled beauty. Words that describe the land of the Navajo people.

For as long as most people can remember, Navajoland has been a mecca for tourists and the film industry. Awe -inspiring scenery, towering rock formations and yawning canyon walls….this is what attracts millions of tourists from throughout the world.

“We are very pleased that visitors are captivated by our magnificent scenery, but the true beauty of the Navajo Nation is our people,” stated Navajo Nation Parks and Recreation Department Manager Martin L. Begaye. “Our mission is to protect and preserve our natural resources for future generations. We are doing this for the benefit of the Navajo people and for the guests who visit our land.”

Tourism studies have revealed that the primary reason tourists travel to Navajoland is to see the scenery. Additionally, more than half of the people who visit the Navajo Nation return for a second visit.

In fact, visitation at all of the tribal parks increased tremendously during the summer of 2015. Begaye attributes this to increased marketing efforts throughout the years.

“Because of the vastness of our land, many tourists are not able to stop at all of our tribal parks on their first visit. Many tourists often return to see the rest of our parks,” Begaye explained. “We are grateful that our guests enjoy their vacation to the Navajo Nation and come back. However, we want them to know that we have more to offer than scenery. We have many Navajo cultural events, a myriad of outdoor recreation and year – round events and activities that they can experience.

”With a trend to live healthier lifestyles, Begaye said the Navajo Nation Parks and Recreation Department created a series of year – round running events that will be held at its tribal parks. The first event was held in Window Rock in September.

Navajo Nation President Russell Begaye, said “Navajo Vice President Jonathan Nez and I are both strong supporters of living healthy. Not only is running a great way to exercise your body, but it is also an excellent way to exercise your mind and spirit. We hope this partnership between the Navajo Nation and NavajoYes will mark the beginning of coveted events that you will want to experience. I commend all of the entities who are working together to make these events enjoyable and successful, but most importantly, as a venue to keep us strong and healthy. We need healthy minds and bodies who can lead the Navajo Nation into the next generation.”

Echoing President Begaye, Navajo Nation Vice President Jonathan Nez,stated,“As an avid runner, I am extremely excited about these upcoming running events on the Navajo Nation. I enjoy running with my people and guests who visit our reservation. It’s good to hear stories from the people when I run with them. They have stories of overcoming health issues or struggles. It’s empowering. People say I’m encouraging, but I find them encouraging.”

Begaye added, “The Navajo Nation is the ideal place to get fit while enjoying our beautiful land. No where else in the world will you be able to cross four states in one marathon or run near beautiful rock formations that echo the rich history of the Navajo people. Running has always been part of our Navajo tradition. We are therefore, opening our doorway so to speak to – people who want to experience the embracing culture of the Navajo people. We are partnering with various entities to promote healthy living. We invite everyone to experience what we have to offer.”

Begaye said the Navajo Nation Parks and Recreation Department is collaborating with NavajoYes, which is a non-profit organization that promotes community wellness, lifelong fitness and youth empowerment on the Navajo reservation and the Navajo Nation Division of Health.

NavajoYes CEO Tom Riggenbach stated, “NavajoYes has been an advocate for community wellness and lifelong fitness on the Navajo Nation for over 20 years. We are very excited by the opportunity to work with Navajo Parks and Recreation, the Navajo Division of Health and the Office of the President and Vice President to promote these common goals through the Navajo Parks Race Series.”

The Navajo Parks Race Series includes two remaining races in 2015, which are Asaayi Mountain Run on November 14th and Monument Valley Marathon at Monument Valley Navajo Tribal Park on December 12th. The races in 2016 include Little Colorado River Gorge on February 6th; Shiprock Marathon on May 6-7th; Asaayi Mountain Run on August 13th; Navajo Code Talker 29K on September 11th; Four Corners Marathon on October 7- 10; Rainbow Bridge Trail Ultra on November 19th and Monument Valley Marathon on December 10th.

For information about Navajo Parks Race Series registration or entry fees, contact Tom Riggenbach at (928) 429-0345 or chuskaman@yahoo.com.

Visitors can also contact the Navajo Nation Parks and Recreation Department at (928) 871-6647 for information about Navajo cultural events and other events and activities.


LCR Half Marathon COURSE – The half marathon course begins and ends at the LCR Navajo Tribal Park.  The half marathon course begins with a .45 mile loop within the Park out to the rim and out to highway 64.  This section includes 5.3 miles on the highway and old highway roadbed to the upper overlook of the Park, where runners will enjoy a dramatic .95 mile trail loop along the rim.  The course then heads onto the old roadbed above the highway for 1.1 miles, offering dramatic vistas of the LCR region before rejoining the highway for 5.2 paved miles back to the Park, where .2 miles gets you back to the finish line.

LCR 10K course begins with the opening .45 mile loop in the Park at the start before heading out to Hwy 64 for a 5.45 mile out-and-back run along 64 and the old highway roadbed before returning to the Park for the final .2 mile.

LOCATION – The LCR Navajo Tribal Park is located 9.5 miles west of Cameron, Arizona on Hwy 64.  There is ample parking at the Park, which includes dramatic overlooks and arts & crafts vendors.  There are permanent pit toilets at the Park. Event registration includes long-sleeve tech shirts, race poster, age-group awards and pre-race, on-course and finish line food,  Camping is available.



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