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Sonia Gonzales is passionate about running and wine, so she combined the two in 2014 to create “Run Then Wine,” an event that encourages runners to compete against one another and then relax afterward at a local winery.
In addition to being a runner, Gonzales calls herself “an NMSU grad, an inventor and a cost controller” who was born and raised in New Mexico, but has traveled the world.
Through the BizSprint program at Arrowhead Center, she’s working to develop a new baby-bottle system, but she’s also coordinating the 2020 virtual Run Then Wine event.
Because of COVID-19, all sign-ups for the event are being processed by email, and runners can choose their own routes anywhere in the world, she said, adding that “they can even break the run into sections if they would like, or run it on a treadmill.”
Gonzales said she’s working with the New Mexico Wine Association to bring in wineries as sponsors of the event, with the goal of getting up to six to participate. To date, only Luna Rossa wineries in Las Cruces and Deming have confirmed their participation.
Although it hasn’t been an annual event, Gonzales said that in the years it’s been put together, it’s drawn a good crowd, including the inaugural year, which drew 600 runners. By the time spectators, volunteers and vendors were added in, she estimated total participation by about 1,200 people.
The idea to connect the run with wineries, she said, came naturally.
“I’m a runner and my sister, Sylvia, owns Luna Rossa Winery & Pizzeria,” she said. “I thought, wouldn't it be great to coordinate an event in which we could combine the two? People could run and start and end at the winery.”
Gonzales said entry fees vary depending on what kind of shirt participants want in their goody bag, because cotton shirts are cheaper than those made with moisture-wicking material. The entry fees, she said, are either $35 or $45 per distance chosen, depending on the shirt preference.
Gonzales said there are three distances for which participants can register, and if someone registers for all three, the fee is $80. All shirts are printed with the distance of the chosen event.
And while she admits there’s a profit motive in staging the event, Gonzales also said she has pledged a portion of the proceeds to Camp Hope.
Because the event is virtual, Gonzales said participants have a lot more flexibility than in a normal running event.
“People who are running and wanting to enjoy their glass of wine at the end would have to time it during the participating wineries hours of operation,” she said. “Otherwise, they can run it anytime/anywhere between Oct 17 and Nov 7.”
Looking forward to 2021, Gonzales said she hopes the run can come back to a more traditional format. But her real goal, she said, is to get people moving.
“According the United Health Foundation, 32 percent of New Mexicans are obese,” she said “It would be nice if people just participated for the sake of their own health. Regardless of age or weight, the run could benefit anyone, young and old alike.”
Getting the wineries involved this year she said, is designed to help them weather the COVID-19 pandemic.
“Since this has been a rough year for the wineries, since they were shut all summer long, this will get people in,” she said. “Hopefully, the runners will make additional purchases once they are in the winery redeeming their vouchers.”
Gonzales said that in addition to organizing the event, she’ll be participating, and she knows where she’ll be running.
“I do most of my runs in Mesilla,” she said. “The pecan trees are amazing. I get to enjoy some of New Mexico awesome culture. On my runs, I see vineyards, pecan orchards, farmers working their fields, adobe style homes, green chili sales, pottery sales, sunflowers and the irrigation canals. Although I don't expect to get the same kind of interest as a physical event, this event can still be worthwhile and fun.”
To register or for more information, email Gonzales at email@example.com.