About 35 members of the Gonzalez family came to run and walk early Saturday morning just as they have for about five years now.
The Gonzo Runners, as they call themselves, regularly participate in the Alien Chase, a 5K and 10K run and walk held annually during the UFO Festival that starts and ends at the Roswell Convention and Civic Center on North Main Street, with a jaunt west to as far as Enchanted Lands Park in between.
The Gonzalez members come from all parts of New Mexico as well as Texas and Colorado for an event that gives them a reason to gather as a group, said Angelica Gonzalez-Rodriquez.
Some of the estimated 250 people who entered the event this year dressed up in the spirit of the weekend. Putting athletics into their day was the motivation for some.
“If we are going to chase aliens, we have to be on top of our game,” joked Max Heavenrich of Los Angeles. He and Jesse Gleaton were running while also covering the event for their blog Culture Shock.
In the past the race was a charitable event, but it is now coordinated by the City of Roswell Parks and Recreation Department. Participants receive prizes for best costume as well as medals for finishing as top in their categories. Door prizes are also given.
Whatever money remains after covering costs will be used to improve other city recreation events, said city Recreation Leader Sara Hall.
“We really do it for the health and fitness aspects,” Hall said.
The Franco family of Roswell turned out as a group, as they do for other runs and walks. The ladies of the group, which included mom Christy Franco and daughter Makayla, 6, wore sparkling tutus to celebrate the day and the kids had on astro-themed T-shirts.
“We usually travel,” said Christy Franco to explain why they were participating for the first time. “But we are in town this year.”
Mom and dad, Edward Franco, had to call back their son, Caleb, 8, from some early sprints a couple of times.
The young boy, like many others at the event, came ready to cross the finish line.
Senior Writer Lisa Dunlap can be reached at 575-622-7710, ext. 310, or at firstname.lastname@example.org.