Town officials are urging participants in the inaugural Hershey Track and Field program April 9 to sign up early.
Recreation specialist Charlene Hunt says she hopes fledgling tracksters pre-register for the event before April 8. Registration forms may be picked up at the parks and recreation office at Green Valley Park. There is no fee.
Late registrations will be accepted the morning of the meet, but those who wait until then could be kinking the town's plan to run a smooth, timely meet.
"It really helps us if everyone pre-registers," Hunt said.
The meet, to be held on the PHS track, begins at 10 a.m., but athletes should arrive at the track by 9 a.m.
Events will included the 50-, 100-, 200- and 400-meter dashes, 800- and 1,600-meter runs, 4x100-meter relay, long jump and softball throw.
According to Hunt, the competition is being brought to Payson to help promote physical fitness, participation, friendship and sportsmanship.
In the competition, the youngsters will participate in one of six age/sex divisions.
The divisions are 9-10 years, 11-12 years and 13-14 years for both boys and girls.
The 50-meter dashes will be conducted only in the 9-10 years age group. The 1,600-meter run will be held in only the 13-14 years division.
Winners of the Payson meet will have the opportunity to advance to district, regional and state competition. State champions are entered into a regional pool and become eligible to compete on a team in the North American Finals Aug. 6 in Hershey, Pa.
During the months of April and May, more than 400,000 athletes will compete in Hershey meets in all 50 states, the District of Columbia and in Canada.
The meets began in 1975 in Charleston, W.Va. There, Dr. Donald P. Cohen founded them originally as a playground track and field program. In 1976, the program was offered statewide in West Virginia and a year later grew to be a 10-state regional event.
By 1978, Hersheys were being held nationally. They are now the largest sports programs of their kind in North America.