FARMINGTON — Eugene Hogue is serious about running.
When he laces up each morning, he can't wait to go for his daily run, but he would be just as happy to walk, trot, jog or sprint out of doors. As long as he's in motion, it's a great day.
Running is part of nearly every aspect of his life.
Hogue, 50, and his wife, Jeri, sometimes with their two children along, make running the dirt roads behind Piedra Vista High School a family affair.
Earlier this month, the Hogues traveled to San Diego, Calif., for the annual Rock 'n' Roll Half Marathon. Eugene placed 38th out of the more than 25,000 runners with a finishing time of one hour and fifteen minutes.
"After the race, my wife asked me what was wrong, and I told her my mind was thinking, 'How am I going to get my run time down to one hour, ten minutes,'" he said. "I guess I'm really competitive."
But his spirit of competition only extends as far as the clock.
Running for him goes back to childhood.
"I just took to it naturally," he said. "I started competeting as a Scorpion on the Farmington High track team. We took second at state, back in the '80s."
From his high school years, Eugene wanted to compete in the Olympics. A a bad training injury dashed his dreams of winning Olympic gold, but not his passion for lacing up to run around the hills of Farmington -- or at countless marathons in New Mexico and around the country.
A two-time Boston Marathon participant in the early '90s, he just received a sponsorship from Brooks Sports, Inc., now a subsidiary of Russell Corporation. The San Diego marathon was the first time he ran with sponsor support.
He ran a 10K in Albuquerque in March and came in first. The following month he returned to Albuquerque and came in third in a half marathon, which was second place in his age category.
In September, he plans to travel to Rhode Island to run a half marathon.
"I just love to run. It's what I do," he said. "It reduces stress and keeps me healthy."Running is how he and Jeri met twenty years ago and became the impetus for opening their own specialty running store, Southwest Runners, three years ago.
The Farmington store offers running shoes and apparel along with plenty of running enthusiasm and expertise the Hogues found difficult to find in San Juan County.
When the couple aren't running their store, they head outdoors to burn some calories and shed any stress that running a small business may bring.
Always eager to grow the local running community, Eugene and Jeri began a running group several years ago.
"We average around 30 or so people now," he said. "We meet at Piedra Vista High School on Tuesdays and Thursdays ... and go for an hour or two. It's great to see people doing something you love."
The group includes all skill and paces, including some who walk. The emphasis on getting together is what propels the group, no matter the season or weather.
"At our store, we don't just sell shoes," he said. "We try to just encourage people to be healthy, have fun and stay in shape, especially if you can run with friends or your family."
He likens running to eating or sleeping, a vital part of his life.
"For me, I just run. Even if I go for a run and come into work and somebody asks if I want to go run, I say yes," he said.
"I don't know how to say no. So I go again the same day. Just comes natural to me."
Cheryl Woods, who also ran in San Diego this month, recently joined the Hogue's running group.
"I don't think enough people realize what an amazing runner Eugene is," she said. "It's kinda cool that somebody from Farmington is an elite runner at his level. It blows my mind when I think about the times he achieves. He's awesome."
Eugene doesn't see what's so special about his accomplishments.
"I am always setting harder goals for myself," he said. "But I always do it for the love of it. When you go for a run, the sweat and stress just comes out of you. Your mind doesn't think about the bills you have to pay. You put one foot in front of the other and you feel great. It really works."
James Fenton covers Aztec and Bloomfield for The Daily Times. He can be reached at 505-564-4631 and firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him @fentondt on Twitter.