The whole event starts out the night before where they have a pasta dinner. The three times I have done this race we have gotten up there too late to enjoy the pasta. Most of the runners camp out at the starting line. This year it rained and my tent had a hole in it so I had drops of water hitting my sleeping bag. They have been getting a lot of rain up there this year which made it a lot easier to run the course because it is pretty sandy. On top of that the flowers on the course were really beautiful. Everyone gets up bright and early and the Ultra 30 mile race starts at 6:00am sharp. An hour later the 10 mile race starts which turned out to be 11.3 miles according to two people's GPS watches. The 4 mile race starts at around 8am. After the run you can feast on a traditional Hopi meal. It is always delicious. On top of all that you get a shirt at the run. It blows any other race I have ever seen out of the water as far as how much your are fed and given.
I was able to have pretty extensive conversations with runners who either run barefooted or in minimalist sandals. Some of them have been running that ways since around the year 2000 well before Born To Run came out or all this hit main stream. They felt it was good but a couple of them actually contributed ideas of how to improve certain shoes or sandals and then in some ways wished they would have partnered or came out with their own designs because when this whole thing blew up it became pretty lucrative for those who were positioned correctly. Pretty much all these people I talked to were in the same mindset that the movement reached critical mass and isn't talked about as much because most people are aware of the arguments for and against minimalist footwear. The most interesting piece of information was what one of the Navajo runners told me. He was in good shape to run over 30 miles and had actually won the Hopi run in the past. When he switched to wearing Tarahumara huarache sandals he could only run a mile or two and he started to think "no way" is the possible. It took 2 years of running in the sandals to be able to run 30 miles in them. I was really surprised to hear that it took him that long.
Pictures can't do the event justice and even if I had more pictures of the runners and scenery you basically have to experience it for yourself.