Both the 10K and 5K Race start on black top (highway 134) directly east of the picnic ground with a slight downhill start. Runners run through the picnic ground and pick up the course headed directly to the first challenge. Right before the one mile point for 10K Runners, and ½ mile point for 5K Runners is ole’ Sandy. This part of the course is an uphill 200 yard stretch of loose sand making it difficult to get traction and momentum, more challenging after running faster than normal through the picnic grounds hearing spectators cheering. After topping ole’ Sandy is Backbreaker Hill, about 600 yard of steady uphill climb through forested pine. Runners are heard to comment that climb never seems to end, feels like the back is going to break, thus Backbreaker Hill. At the crest of Backbreaker Hill is the 1 mile point for the 5K race. At the crest, there is an awesome view of the Crystal valley to the west, very few take in the view for obvious reason. Shortly past the Backbreaker Hill is the turn for the 5K Race that pushes Runners downhill, down to the Narbona Pass valley, back on to black top and to the downhill finish line at the picnic ground.
The 10K race continues through forested pines, cottonwoods with two short gradual uphill sections of the course to the 2 mile point. Right past the 2 mile point is the infamous Goat Hill; the course starts as a gradual incline and gets steeper close to the top with loose rocks and uneven footing. In the 1980s, as the elite group was racing, a flock of sheep and goats were grazing nearby. A goat decided to join the race and ran alongside Runners until half way up, could go no more, accordingly, the name, Goat Hill.Runners cresting Goat Hill get to coast down hill for a short distance before making a circle in the valley as what is known as the “Where the Sun is At” in the Navajo language. Many cheering spectators watch the race with their set-up chairs and help with the water station at the turn around. The 3 mile point is the right before starting up a short hill that Runners had coasted earlier, this part of the course is where Runners can see who is ahead, and a steady stream of encouragements to each other are heard above the whisper of the wind through the trees.
After cresting the hill, Runners are awarded with a down hill plunge back to the finish. This part of the course is an improved gravel road that is a heavily traveled road connecting families to sheep camps in the Long Lake and Whiskey Lake areas; it also serves as a route to the radar station on top of Narbona Pass. Although, the downhill is a relief for many runners, it is also a struggle for runners that have spent considerable effort on the uphill section of the race and suddenly find little get-go to enjoy the downhill. Most of the close contested races over the years have been won or lost in this section of the race. At the 4 mile point, Highway 134 is visible, once on the highway, Runners find a steady downhill section of the race, past the 5 mile point back to the finish, however, sometimes the steady head wind that tunnels through the canyon of Narbona Pass can be a challenge. At 5 ½ mile point the finish line comes into view, vehicles lining both sides, spectators lining the course, the race announcer exhorting runners to sprint for the finish, and of course, the smell of freshly cooked fry bread, often referred to as the Navajo steroid. You have made the FINISH!!!