Rim Country Challenge Lives Up To Its Name

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Profits from the upcoming Rim Country Challenge will help the Payson Area Habitat for Humanity meet its goal of providing "decent, affordable and healthy housing for low-to-moderate income residents who are unable to obtain conventional financing."

Currently, PAHH is building its 13th home in the Rim Country.

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Runners, and some dogs, are in training for the Habitat for Humanity half marathon and 5K.

The Rim Country Challenge, which includes a half marathon, 5K and young athletes fun run, will be held Oct. 28 in Payson.

The start line for the half marathon and 5K will be on the east side of Beeline Highway near the Mazatzal Casino, which is a main sponsor of the event.

The half marathon course will be just what the event title says -- a "challenge" mostly because it contains about a half mile climb up Airport Road.

That climb is widely considered among Rim Country runners as one of the most rugged and demanding in Payson.

Former Payson High School wrestling coach and teacher Dennis Pirch used the hill run as a conditioning tool for his athletes and students.

Event organizers warn "the course is not flat and fast. So, don't expect to set any speed records."

The 5K course is also a challenge mostly because it contains a climb up McLane Road.

The remainder of both the half marathon and 5K courses wind through scenic areas of Payson.

The event is USATF certified and sanctioned and timing chips will be used for the first time in a Payson race.

The small chips are attached to the runner's shoelaces and are activated when the entrant passes through both the start and finish line.

If a large field of runners shows up, the chips will render times more accurately, because each runner's start time is not recorded until he or she crosses the start line.

In larger races, it often takes three or four minutes or more for some runners to actually reach the starting line.

Be warned, however, if you lose the chip it will cost you $20. And if it's not on your shoelace, it will not record.

Timing chips, race numbers, T-shirts and goodie bags will be passed out during a carb dinner to be held from 4:30 to 7:30 p.m. Oct. 27 in the Rim Country Middle School cafeteria. They will also be available the morning of race day in the casino parking lot.

Runners will compete in age/gender divisions in both the 5K and half marathon. Awards will be presented to the first three male and female finishers in each age division and the overall top three finishers.

The young athletes fun run will be conducted using the same format as the inaugural one held last spring at Rumsey Park.

Entrants up to 6 years old will run a quarter of a mile. Seven- and 8-year-olds will run a half mile and 9- to 11-year-olds will run one mile.

The first youth fun run drew 58 entrants, many of them encouraged to participate by Julia Randall Elementary School teacher and mountain bike champion Wayne Gorry.

Following that race, Gorry said, "We have all ages out here learning about physical fitness. They will learn (fitness) skills that hopefully will last them a lifetime."

Gorry is again spearheading a drive to encourage youngsters to enter the race.

Entry fee into the half marathon, if paid before the Oct. 22 deadline is $40. After than it is $60.

Entry fee for the 5K is $20 before the deadline and $30 afterward.

Young athletes fun run entry is $10 before the deadline and $15 for late registration.

Entry forms are available at the Payson Athletic Club or the Payson Parks and Recreation Department at Green Valley Park.

For more information, visit www.rimcountrychallenge.com.

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