In their element: Farmington couple's passion for running leads to store, running group
This is part of The Daily Times' “In their element” series. On the last Thursday of every month in 2015, we'll publish a profile of a Four Corners resident who embraces fitness or the outdoors.
FARMINGTON — If you spend enough time with the runners in the Southwest Runners group, you'll hear words like "yogurt," "vicious dog" and "power lines" get tossed around in conversation.
Those are some the nicknames the runners have for routes around Farmington they've completed on their bi-weekly runs. And members of the running circle, which is organized by the Hogue family, are happy to elaborate on the stories behind those names.
The "Yogurt Route," for example, is among the most challenging runs the group completes. It gets its name from the well-deserved snack runners treat themselves to afterward at Aspen Leaf Frozen Yogurt. Other routes combine trails, oil field roads and paths that follow power lines in northeastern Farmington, behind Piedra Vista High School and around Lions Wilderness Park.
The Hogues are the backbone of the small but dedicated group of runners. And running is at the core of the Hogue family, too.
Jeri Hogue, 52, began running in seventh grade at Mesa Alta Junior High School. She met her husband, Eugene Hogue, 51, at track and cross-country meets, when he ran for Farmington High School and she ran for Bloomfield High School. The couple now have two children, Allegra Hogue, 23, and Sebastian Hogue, 26.
Jeri and Eugene Hogue opened Southwest Runners, a running gear shop at 4250 E. Main St., five years ago. One year later, they started the Southwest Runners running club.
"We wanted people to join us, to be fit," said Jeri Hogue. "When we first started out, it would just be us there. The kids would join us."
Now, she said, group runs attract 10 to 15 participants in the winter and up to 30 in the summer. On any Tuesday or Thursday evening in the spring, summer or fall, you may see runners from the group lining the shoulder of Hood Mesa Trail in north Farmington.
During the runs, strangers quickly become friends. A first-time participant likely meets the group at the parking lot outside Piedra Vista High School or the parking lot on Hood Mesa Trail.
The group's Facebook page informs participants of where the next run will meet. Once there, Jeri Hogue is quick to introduce herself with a friendly face and a waiver.
Runners often discuss which routes to run before they set out.
"We try to stay on the dirt — less traffic," Jeri Hogue said.
The group generally splits into two, with the faster runners going a longer distance so they finish at about the same time as the rest of the group.
Several runners in the group agree that meeting for these runs provides great motivation, and they often meet outside the group for even more running.
The group also creates a sense of community.
On Feb. 6, Priscilla Shorty, who runs with the group, drank water at the Hogue's store in Farmington. That morning, she completed a solo 13.1-mile run to celebrate her 45th birthday. Her loop began and ended at Southwest Runners, and she came into the shop to share her accomplishment with Jeri and Allegra Hogue.
"I've had a couple setbacks with running," Shorty said. "But (the Hogues) have helped me overcome them. They've given me great advice."
For the Hogues' children, running has been part of their upbringing.
Still, daughter Allegra Hogue said she did not feel pressure from her parents to run. But not long after graduating high school, she realized running would be an easier activity to sustain than volleyball, which she played in school.
"So I started running with the group, two miles at a time," she said.
Now, she often organizes the group runs herself. This weekend, she'll travel to San Francisco for the Rock and Roll Half Marathon, something she's spent months training for.
Both Jeri and Eugene Hogue recall how they were able to keep running with two small children in tow.
"Eugene would run, and I would drive with the kids," said Jeri Hogue. "Then we'd switch. We'd take turns running."
In fact, one of Allegra's first memories is of being wrapped in blankets in the car as her dad took participated in a race on the La Luz Trail in Albuquerque.
"I just remember waking up," she said. "We parked, and he came off the trail to say hi. We cheered him on as he ran back to the race."
Today, the Hogues run at varying speeds. Jeri likes to hang back sometimes during group runs, while Eugene and Sebastian can usually be found leading the "fast group."
"We may be all at different levels, but we all go out the door at the same time," Jeri said.
Molly Maxwell covers the outdoors for The Daily Times. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.