Almost 300 runners of all levels and ages came out for the second annual Run, Walk, Crawl (RWC) Angel Fire Adventure Marathon July 3. It was a morning when fresh mountain air and dew came together to form a light mist that lingered around the fringes of the Moreno Valley.
This year’s event grew in popularity, as 80 percent more participants signed up and ran in either the marathon, half-marathon or 5K run compared to 2015, according to Kristin Steinhilber, organizer of RWC Adventures. Runners from 36 states were in attendance, many of them displaying their USA pride with patriotic red, white and blue garb.
On a mission
One particular runner even carried an American flag during her 26.2-mile run. Jamila Williams, of Las Cruces, who belongs to Team RWB (red, white and blue) was participating in her 86th marathon and was making good time when she was asked about the purpose of her cause. “We run for veterans,” Williams said, who agreed to talk and run at the same time. “We do physical activity to support and enrich the lives of veterans.”
Williams was thanked by passing runners, and a motorist honked his horn in approval during our short interview. It was fitting that the encounter with Williams occurred just as she was passing the Vietnam Veterans Memorial State Park.
Open to veterans and non-veterans, Team RWB has more than 100,000 members and includes chapters and community programs throughout the country.
Williams said she was slightly affected by the difference in elevation from Las Cruces to Angel Fire, but was ready for a slump in available oxygen, having completed the inaugural marathon here last year.
Sitting at approximately 8,400 feet and nestled against Agua Fria Peak, the village of Angel Fire was partly in morning shadows when the full-marathon runners started out.
Dropping about 150 feet in elevation as the runners made their way toward Eagle Nest, the first turn-around mark on U.S. Highway 64 was the lowest point of the course. The lost elevation was made back up as runners came back toward the starting line on South Angel Fire Road and ran past it, heading toward the tiny community of Black Lake on State Road 434. Heading toward their second turn-around mark, runners gained another 400 feet on this leg of the marathon course before coasting back down to the finish line.
Visually stunning and wrought with contrasts, the Angel Fire Adventure Marathon had a little bit of everything for the endurance activity seekers.
“I am grateful for the well-maintained roads,” said one runner at the end of her 5K event. Another runner from Phoenix was happy to escape the extreme summer heat to come to the cool mountains of Northern New Mexico. Many athletes talked about the varieties of birds and waterfowl that were present throughout the course.
• First-place male marathon runner, Zachary Ginnings, was also the first-place overall winner of the Angel Fire Adventure Marathon. His time was a curiously notable 3:33:33. Not too far behind Ginnings was the first-place overall female contestant, Jaime Dawes, who fini
shed with an impressive time of 3:34:31.
• The half-marathon winner on the men’s side was Antonio Lopez with a time of 1:25:08. Ayse Allison, a teen runner, had the fastest time for the women with a 1:35:39.
• In the 5K run, Jake Gibbs was the overall winner with a time of 18:48. Analisa Chavez was the first-place winner on the women’s side with a time of 19:25.
• Other noteworthy finishers included 8-year-old Brandon Mirabal, who finished first in his age category, and 10-year-old Shaylee Mirabal, who finished second in her respective age group. Both are siblings from Taos Pueblo who, along with their dad, came out to place a check mark on another completed event this summer.
Along with the competitive runs, the Angel Fire Adventure Marathon also had a “Happy Feet” event for children ages 2-10.