By Curtis Michaels
Roswell Daily Record
“Run when you can, walk if you have to, crawl if you must; just never give up.”
Dean Karnazes, marathon runner and author, said this. It could be the motto of the Roswell Runners Club.
Active in Roswell for over 30 years, the club has been good for Roswell in a variety of ways.
Known for their philanthropic efforts, the runners are also glad to help raise awareness of health and quality of life issues by the examples they set.
If you ask runners why they love to run, you will hear stories of overcoming health issues, and of taking charge of their lives after any number of challenges, from addiction to injury. Running does become a passion.
If you ask the members of the Roswell Runners’ Club what they’re proudest of, you’ll hear stories of the money they’ve raised for worthy causes in Roswell, and of the awareness that their efforts have raised about wellness and quality of life.
Their events have benefited causes such as Breast Cancer Awareness, the New Mexico Youth Challenge Program, The Roswell Zoo, the Humane Society, Multiple Sclerosis and a number of groups that feed the hungry.
From the very beginning, the club has been about running and about serving the community.
Some of the early members were Joan Blodgett, Doris Calloway, Gary Damron, Steve Henderson, Jim Lilley, Dan Voorhees, Clyde McKee, Dennis Pabst and Dick Bartlett. The list reads like a who’s who of Roswell’s business leaders over the past few decades.
It’s no surprise, when you think about it. People who succeed in business are driven. Runners are driven as well.
Moving forward over the years, the club is now being run by Bob Edwards, Dwain Brown, Mandy Owens, Vern Dyer and Steve Lamontine.
These people are dedicated to good health, to a good quality of life, and serving the community.
The club holds five runs a year for charity.
The Pecos Valley Stampede is a half-marathon run in February, and has been a Roswell tradition since 1980. It raises money for Breast Cancer Awareness and the New Mexico Youth Challenge Program.
The Race For The Zoo has been ongoing since 1992. It is scheduled in May and has raised over $40,000 for the Roswell Zoo.
The Alien Chase dates back to 1993, and in the past four years it has raised over $15,000 for the Roswell Humane Society.
Every September since 1987 the Turtle Marathon has raised money for Multiple Sclerosis research. They’ve raised more than $40,000.
And in December The Reindeer Run, provides both money and non-perishable food donations to the food pantries such as Harvest Ministries and St. John’s church. Last year it generated 800 pounds of food.
Don’t tell Edwards that they’re giving back to the community, however.
“We don’t like to say that we are giving back because that makes it sound like we stole something.”
Edwards is a prime example of the concept never give up. In 1990 he had a pacemaker implanted. That was all the motivation he needed to change his lifestyle. He quit smoking and started running again. He had been a runner in high school. In 1991 Edwards became the president of the Roswell Runners Club.
Edwards grew up in Yonkers, New York, just outside The Bronx. He joined the Air Force in 1966. During his time in the service, he was briefly stationed at Canon Air Force Base in Clovis.
In 1970 he discharged back to Canon from Tripoli, and shortly began working as a claims adjuster. He worked for State Farm Insurance for 31 years.
Edwards moved to Roswell in 1979 where he quickly established himself and made friends despite his shy demeanor.
He remembers the fun runs that the club used to host.
“When we had over 40 members, we would host runs just for the fun of it,” he said. “We would welcome the fun runs again if someone would like to take charge of them.”
Running is addicting, there’s little doubt about participation.
Edwards is keeping his focus on organizing the philanthropic runs.
“All the money we raise, after expenses, goes directly to the charities we support,” explains Edwards.
When they’re not busy running, the members of the Roswell Runners Club help other groups with their runs. When the schools have runs, you’ll find club members there at the starting line, and everywhere someone is needed to maintain organization.
The Roswell Runners Club also gets help on its own runs. Edwards expressed great appreciation for the Pecos Valley Amateur Radio Club for maintaining stations, the New Mexico Mounted Patrol, for helping to keep the runs safe, and the Parks and Recreation Department for providing cones, signs and people to time the runs.
The club is there for more than just marathon runners. They offer competitive and non-competitive runs as well as support for power walking, also known as race-walking and for walkers.
If you’d like to get addicted to walking, power walking, or running join the Roswell Runners’ Club and give yourself the support that motivated people need to get things done.
You can come to a meeting at 7:30 p.m. on the second Monday of each month at the Parks and Recreation office, 1101 W. 4th (at Cahoon Park).
By Curtis Michaels