Reindeer Romp brings holiday cheer to runners

Hannah Grover

FARMINGTON – Approximately 20 minutes after an air horn announced the start of the fourth annual Reindeer Romp Saturday, the first two runners crossed the finish line on Orchard Avenue within seconds of each other.

The Reindeer Romp is one of two festive holiday fun runs that the city of Farmington's Parks, Recreation and Cultural Affairs and the Farmington Downtown Association put together each year. In addition to the race, there is a 2-mile walk. The event also features a visit from Santa Claus, who stood at the finish line and distributed candy canes.

Donnie Lapahie and his son, Houston Lapahie, 3, wait for family members to cross the finish line during the Reindeer Romp & North Pole Stroll on Saturday on Main Street in Farmington.

Ryan Niehaus, who has participated in every Reindeer Romp, won the race, followed closely by Piedra Vista High School student Adriel Eaton, 15.

Niehaus, who typically runs longer distances and competed in the Boston Marathon earlier this year, said he participates in the Reindeer Romp because it is local. He said the most challenging part of the race is a hill on Navajo Street.

Eaton runs cross-country in school and said he participated because he loves running, and he was happy with his finish.

Kody Garcia, 11, finishes the Reindeer Romp & North Pole Stroll on Saturday on Main Street in Farmington.

"I would rather finish second than first because it tells me I've tried hard enough," he said.

Minutes later, the first female finisher crossed the line. Amber Saiz, 21, a senior member of the track and cross-country teams at Eastern New Mexico University in Portales, said her boyfriend is from the Farmington area, and she came here with him for Christmas break.

Regina Cambridge, right, her husband, Chris Cambridge and their family embark on the Reindeer Romp & North Pole Stroll Saturday on Main Street in Farmington.

When she learned there was a 5k fun run, she decided to enter the race because she has never before had the chance to run a road race.

"I liked it," she said after finishing. "It was fun. The hills were kind of tough, but it was doable."

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

Alexis Domme, left, helps Jennifer Caliendo with her number before the Reindeer Romp & North Pole Stroll on Saturday on Main Street in Farmington.