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Sassy Tortoise and Hare Run draws larger numbers than expected

Ideal weather, music and community support makes for successful run
Sassy Tortoise and Hare run benefits sexual assault services for victims. Pictured: 2021 participants. (Courtesy Sexual Assault Services of Northwest New Mexico)

The 11th annual Sassy Tortoise and Hare Run drew more runners than expected Saturday, April 8. The race launched about 10 a.m. from Orchard Park in downtown Farmington to the sounds of singer and guitarist Charles Stacey.

Racers participated in a 5K, 10K and one-mile stroller walk. The race’s entry fees benefited Sexual Assault Services of Northwest New Mexico.

Eleana Butler, executive director for Sexual Assault Services, said, “We are incredibly excited … and a little bit shocked. We have not had this many runners … in years!”

In past years, the run has been held in other locations such as Lions Wilderness Park and Wines of the San Juan. Butler said they brought the race to downtown Farmington to be a part of development and showcase their sexual assault awareness efforts.

“Now we’re seeing the results of that – the growth,” Butler said.

The organization planned for 100 participants, but 106 signed up, so they ran out of T-shirts to give participants.

Purple Cow food truck, activities for children and music from San Juan College’s African drumming group added to the event.

The event also featured a raffle that was supported by Brown’s Shoes, Basin Health Cos., Merrion Oil and Gas, Basin Surveying, Garrison Graphics, Pirate Radio, city of Farmington, San Juan County, Coalition to Stop Violence Against Native Women and Start by Believing.

Butler said donors, registration fees and raffle entrants raised nearly $15,000. In-kind donations for the raffle totaled more than $6,000.

San Juan County commissioners chipped in $3,100 and Merrion Oil & Gas and Basin Health each kicked in $2,500.

The 2023 Sassy Tortoise and Hare race was held in downtown Farmington. (Courtesy Sexual Assault Services of Northwest New Mexico)

Cool weather and a sense of community building added to the event for many runners and nearby businesses.

“It was amazing – the weather was perfect,” said Patricia Simpson, Farmington Police Department Citizens Advisory Board and Tres Rios Habitat for Humanity board member.

Marcy Hower, owner of Icon Salon & Barbershop, said she thought the event was really good for the community.

Danielle Albright, 10K runner, said she experienced “adrenaline … and excitement.” She finished third place with a time of 47:08, her first time to place after becoming an avid runner in 2019.

Former San Juan County Commission Chairman Jack Fortner said “It was tough considering that I haven’t run in about two years.” He said he and his wife, who is now a county commissioner, have supported the cause over the years.

Krissy Fortner, Jack’s daughter, ran the 5K and said it was for a good cause and that they raised a lot of money and got people to come downtown.

Fifth-grader Liam Conklin, 11, kept pace with the adult runners even though he said he has only been running for 11 months. Conklin received an honorable mention for his time of 24 minutes, 54 seconds. “It feels good to be recognized,” he said.

“We were so impressed we gave him a $20 gift certificate to Southwest Runners,” Butler said in an email.

Volunteers were staged on the route to insure runners stayed on course.

Caroline Babcock, Miss New Mexico Teen USA and junior at Piedra Vista High School, said the event was “awesome, for a really great cause” and they had a really great turnout. Babcock assisted in handing out awards to the top three winners.

Prizes included a $100 and $50 Brown’s Shoe Fit gift certificate for first place and second place, respectively and a $25 Best Buy gift card for third place. Brown’s also provided a $15 off a $50 purchase coupon on the bibs.

SASSY Tortoise and Hare race results
Female 5k
1. Brandy Peterson
2. Naomi Benally
3. Ervina Kady
Male 5k
1. Scott Vincin
2. Aaron Wade
3. Nathaniel Begay
Honorable mention: Liam Conklin
Female 10k
1. Karen Krob
2. Alicia Souvignier
3. Danielle Albright
Male 10k
1. Ronald Smith
2. Adam Gorman
3. Timothy Cox

    Aaron Wade said he’s been running for five or six years and mostly does Spartan races. “Obstacle course races are fun to do,” Wade said. He’s run races in Colorado, Utah, Arizona and Florida.

    Wade’s wife, Heidi, said they opened up a high-intensity 30-minute interval training gym, Wicked Fit, last September. They’re located 915-1-A, Farmington Ave. He became certified as a personal trainer and hopes to transition from his oil field job to help his wife full-time. They focus on functional training, “daily movements,” he said.

    The African Drumming group, led by Dr. Teun B. Fetz, associate professor music and director of instrumental music at San Juan College, livened up the Orchard Park crowd after the race.

    Fetz introduced every selection with an origin story and said after one difficult number, “That’s a really difficult one, so I’m proud of them.”

    Fetz said he’s probably played percussion for 35 years and began on the African djembe about 20 years ago. He said, “I’m still learning … you never peak. There’s always something to learn and grow and get better at in music.”

    Fetz conducts the San Juan College orchestra and the symphonic band, as well as playing percussion in the San Juan Symphony. He also has a band called Funkified.

    San Juan College African drumming group performed at this year’s SASSY Tortoise and Hare run in downtown Farmington. (David Edward Albright/Durango Herald)