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FARMINGTON – Several upcoming fun runs and walks will raise awareness about topics such as sexual assault, local trails and cystic fibrosis.

The warm spring weather triggers an increase in fun runs and walks throughout the community. This weekend, two family-oriented fun runs and walks will attract participants to parks in Farmington and Aztec.

The annual Great Strides Walk now draws a crowd to Berg Park to raise awareness about cystic fibrosis, but that has not always been the case.

"We started pretty meek and meager," said Lisa Willems, the co-chair of the event.

She said when the race started 28 years ago, only a handful of participants showed up. Since then, the event has grown to attract more and more people, including families from as far away as Cortez, Colo., who are affected by cystic fibrosis.

"With cystic fibrosis, you can't really have a support group," Willems said.

She explained that taking part in a support group could put the patients at risk of developing infections. Because mucus builds up in the patient's body, it makes that individual more susceptible to illness.

But the annual walk serves as a chance for families of those afflicted by the disease to connect and discuss the condition. Every year, the free event attracts about 100 people and raises between $20,000 and $30,000.

"We'll be there rain or shine," Willems said.

While families will be at Berg Park raising awareness about cystic fibrosis, a race in Aztec hopes to attract 100 runners this year during the Not Quite 5k Family Fun Run.

The third annual race, put on by Aztec Trails and Open Space, will take a slightly different route this year. Melissa May, an ATOS member, said it is the first year the approximately 3-mile race will start and end at the Aztec Ruins National Monument.

The race began three years ago when ATOS partnered with the Aztec Ruins National Monument to put together an event that would encourage people to get outside and enjoy the environment.

May said at the time there were no races in Aztec, but ATOS added a second race last year.

"We really wanted to highlight some of the trail work in Aztec," she said.

This year's course will highlight new murals underneath the bridges at the intersection of Ruins Road and West Aztec Boulevard. Runners will start at the ruins, run up Ruins Road, then go beneath the bridges and into Riverside Park before returning over the North Main Avenue pedestrian bridge.

Next weekend, the annual SASSY Tortoise and Hare race will also show off local trails while raising awareness about sexual assault.

The race is now in its sixth year, and Eleana Butler, executive director of Sexual Assault Services of Northwest New Mexico, says it has attracted a good local following.

She said the race is a good way for people to support a good cause and, for the second year, the 5k and 10k runs will offer chip timing. The chip timing will allow runners to compare their times with times in other races.

While the 5k and 10k will be timed, the 5k walk and 1-mile kids fun run will not be timed.

Other upcoming fun runs and walks include the Farmington Regional Animal Shelter's annual Doggie Dash at 10 a.m. Saturday, April 30, the Shiprock Marathon on Friday and Saturday, May 6-7 and the Riverfest fun runs at the end of May.

Hannah Grover covers Aztec and Bloomfield, as well as general news, for The Daily Times. She can be reached at 505-564-4652.

If you go

What: Great Strides Walk

When: 8 a.m. Saturday

Where: Berg Park, 514 Scott Ave.

Cost: Free

More info:fightcf.cff.org/site/TR/GreatStrides

What: Not Quite 5k Family Fun Run 

When: 9 a.m. Saturday

Where: Aztec Ruins National Monument, 725 Ruins Road

Cost: $30

More info: notquite5k.com

What: SASSY Tortoise and Hare Run

When: 8:30 a.m. Saturday, April 30

Where: Lions Wilderness Park, 5800 College Blvd.

Cost: $45 for the 10K run, $35 for the 5K run, $35 for the 5K walk and $20 for the kid's run. 

More info: runningguru.com

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