Striders and Riders president John Leeper and his fellow SSR crew at the finish line waiting for the competitors to finish.
Greg Byrd | El Defensor Chieftain photos


The Socorro Striders and Riders organization continues to ramp things up for outdoor enthusiasts in Socorro County. The group’s annual Turkey Trot run returned on Thanksgiving after having been absent in 2020.

Ethan Smith was the first to cross the finish line with an impressive time of just under 19 minutes.

Striders and Riders president John Leeper was out ringing the bells on the track.

“We have a great crowd and turnout here this morning,” he said. “All age ranges and all different types of people running, including people from out of town. The city did a great job of setting things up from parking to porta potties being available. We are compliant as far as COVID protocol is concerned so now the runners get to go out there and have fun.”

Runners were not just those racing at the City of Socorro Sports Complex. Contestants from as far as Japan participated virtually in their own 5K runs with proceeds all going to the Socorro Storehouse. The top three finishers each received a large Thanksgiving turkey for their holiday dinner.

Keeping the runner’s times at the finish line was Striders and Riders secretary Sara Demorest. She is responsible for handling communication and social media for the organization.

“We never know what to expect with these runs,” she said. “Especially post-COVID. Some of these races have maybe 15 people show up so far this year. But the Turkey Trot historically attracts more folks than usual. A lot of families come out that don’t come to all the races so I had a feeling we would get more people than usual which is what we’re seeing today.”

Some of the 81 runners celebrating together after finishing the 2021 Turkey Trot at the City of Socorro Sports Complex.

It was a sizeable turnout. Eighty-one total runners showed up on site for the 9 a.m. run November 25. The first to cross the finish line at the course and receive the winning Turkey was Ethan Smith at 18.58 minutes. He is a life-long runner from Utah.

“This takes lots of training,” he said. “Running every day. I loved this course here too. I liked that it was one big loop. I just tried today to go with the pack and at the end push hard to pull forward and fortunately I was able to take home a turkey.”

On the ladies’ side, Kirsten Arnell, the supervisor of the Polar Field Engineering Team at New Mexico Tech took home first place and collected her turkey prize at 22.32 minutes.

“I think community events bring such great energy,” she said. “Especially running events. When everybody shows up to run it’s not that easy but when you have a bunch of people out there with you it helps to keep you moving. We’re pushing hard together. Plus, it was great to run while looking at snow up there in the Maggies. This course here is really great, and I’ve never won a turkey before so that’s awesome!”

Next up for the Striders and Riders is the Toy Run which will take place on December 11 on the Socorro Plaza.