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Inaugural Hearts 911 Race a Success

A total of 53 runners were greeted by warm sunshine and warm people at the 7:30 a.m. start of the inaugural Hearts 911 Mount Elden Ultimate Challenge and 10K held in Flagstaff on June 30.


A fundraiser for heart screening tests for first responders, the race was a challenging 10.3 mile run up and over Mount Elden, descending on the Heart Trail to Sandy Seep. The shorter 10K race climbed Mount Elden Lookout Road for 3.1 miles, then turned around and finished at the starting line for both races.


The spirit of the Ultimate was perhaps best exemplified by the last-place finisher, who refused to quit despite having problems with her knees.


“The last female runner on the Ultimate course was an inspiration to us all,” said Judi Kaiser and Tracy Olsen, running sweepers positioned at the top of the Ultimate course. “She refused to give up and continued with the support of the sweepers to make it through to the finish line.”


Kaiser ran in with the injured runner, and then Olsen ran in at the end to make sure that all the runners had come through.


The first-ever event was sponsored by the Flagstaff-based nonprofit Shadow Foundation

www.shadowsfoundation.org. The organization provides financial assistance and services for people and families affected with life-threatening diseases and it’s new division “Hearts Worth Saving.”

Executive Director Vicki Burton thanked all those who participated both as runners and as volunteers.


“I would like to thank each and everyone of you for participating in our first annual Hearts 911 run,” she said. “We hope that you had an incredible run and welcome any and all feed back regarding your experience so that next year’s is even better!”


Neil Weintraub, director of the Northern Arizona Trail Runners Association, was on hand to help out with the race and said it has a bright future.


“It was very well organized and most challenging,” he said. “It is a perfect tune up for runners planning on racing the Imogene Pass Run in September.”


When interviewed by Weintraub after the event, race director Patrick Burns said the event was important because first responders have a 300 percent greater chance of getting heart disease than the general population.


Local cardiologist Dr. Omar Wani from the Heart & Vascular Center of Northern Arizona was on hand to provide important information about heart screenings and healthy eating.


Neither the male nor the female 10K winners were from Flagstaff, so their wins were significant accomplishments because they are not accustomed to running at altitudes of 7,000 feet and higher.


Gina Slaby of Tucson was the overall 10K winner with a time of 44.01. A marathon runner, Slaby commented that the ascent in mile 2 to 3 was a challenge.


Harry Singer from Phoenix was the men’s 10K winner at 49.11.


In the Ultimate Challenge, it was Flagstaff residents who took top honors with Art Keith’s 1:16.28 and Leslie Grabel’s at 1:45:28.


Shadows Foundation would like to give a special thanks to the following for their support: Flagstaff Medical Center, Heart & Vascular Center of Northern Arizona, Findaly Volkswagen, Coca Cola, NATRA, Mogollon Brewing Co., Kaiser Law Group, Vora Financial,  Sunrise Lions Club, San Francisco Fitness Center, Virtual Roster,  Arizona Central Credit Union, Massage Envy,  Wildflower Bread Co. Flagstaff, New Frontiers, Guardian Transport, Summit Fire Dept., Flag PD, Coconino County Sheriff Dept., Flag Fire Dept., Biffs Bagels, Run Flagstaff.


By Tim Howsare

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