Participants Gear Up For Challenge

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Finely conditioned long distance runners, 5K joggers, struggling ground pounders and elementary school students are gearing up for Rim Country Challenge.

The second annual event, sponsored by the Payson Area Habitat for Humanity and the Mazatzal Casino, will be held Oct. 13 at Rumsey Park and along Payson's residential streets.

The 5K and half-marathon courses have been changed from those used last year during the event's inaugural season.

The half-marathon course, which is 13.1 miles, will be just what the event title says -- a "challenge," mostly because it contains a .45-mile climb up Airport Road, with an elevation gain of 165 feet.

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 PE teacher Dennis Pirch used the hill run as a conditioning tool for his athletes and students.

Among those runners who know the challenge of Airport Hill is Beth Beck, who competed in the run last year.

"The hill is pretty brutal, you have to take it slow and steady," she said. "That name, ‘Rim Country Challenge', is accurate.

"The challenge is both physical and mental."

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

Although new standards are not usually set, Beck says the difficulty of the course "makes it so much fun to cross the finish line."

Organizers say the 5K course, which starts and ends at Rumsey Park, is not as challenging as the half-marathon course.

The event is USATF certified and sanctioned.

Race numbers, T-shirts and goodie bags will be passed out during a communitywide spaghetti dinner, sponsored by Payson Concrete and Materials, to be held from 4:30 to 7:30 p.m. Oct.12 in the Rim Country Middle School cafeteria.

The menu will include spaghetti with meat or meatless sauce, salad, bread sticks and cake.

Tickets are $6 for adults and $3 for children 12-years and under.

The chips and numbers will also be available on race day.

Runners will compete in age/gender divisions in both the 5K and half marathon.

Special Indian art will be presented to the first three male and female finishers of the half-marathon and 5K. Awards will also be presented to the first three male and female finishers in each age division.

The young athletes fun run will be conducted using the same format as the inaugural one held in the spring of 2006 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. 6 deadline is $40. After that, it is $60.

Entry fee for the 5K is $20 before the deadline and $25 afterward.

Young athletes fun run entry is $7 before the deadline and $10 for late registration.

All proceeds from the event will benefit the Payson Area Habitat for Humanity. Its projects include building 14 town homes at Longhorn Village located at the corner of Longhorn and McLane.

To register, or for more information, go to: http://www.rimcountrychallenge.com/

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