It Was A Thrill To See The Elk

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Payson Roundup outdoor columnist and former PHS coaching legend Dennis Pirch penned an article Sept. 28, in which he wrote, "the older I get, the more the simple pleasures of the outdoors seem to fascinate me."

He wrote of the thrill of listening to a bugling elk and where to go in the Rim Country to listen to the animals during the rut.

I'm older than Coach Pirch, but I agree the outdoors now holds an attraction it didn't when I was younger.

Listening to elk bellow and other wild animals call is now a real treat for me, especially when I'm with my grandchildren hiding or riding our ATV. But an even bigger thrill for the geriatric set is to have camera in hand and come face to face with a bull.

Such a scenario unfolded early this week while I was on my way home from work at the Payson Roundup.

On Pine Creek Drive north of the Pine LDS church, I spotted several cows crossing in front of me. Believing there might be a bull nearby, I jumped out of my truck and grabbed my camera without taking time to fit the telephoto zoom lens.

Sure enough, only yards away from the cows was a nice-sized bull hulking behind a stand of oaks and pines.

I pulled the camera to my eye and began snapping pictures believing my luck might soon end and the bull and his cows would soon scamper off.

But, the big bad boy stayed around along enough for me to take several good photos.

In retrospect, I now know all the while I was stalking the animal, the adrenaline was flowing, as if I was a 17-year-old high school kid about to take the field for a homecoming football game.

Simply put, it was a thrill to be within yards of the magnificent animal and then watch him peacefully run off into the sunset.

Looking through the pictures later at home with my wife, Kay, we both agreed coach Pirch was right on when he wrote, "to watch a trophy bull with his harem of cows is an awesome picture of the wild."

Got the runs?

The second annual Rim Country Challenge, sponsored by the Payson Area Habitat for Humanity and the Mazatzal Casino, will be held tomorrow, Saturday, at Rumsey Park and along Payson's residential streets.

The half-marathon begins at 8 a.m., the 5K at 8:15 a.m. and the young athlete's fun run at 9 a.m.

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.

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 also 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. today, Friday, 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 numbers and goodie bags 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.

Because the registration deadline has passed, entry fee for the half-marathon is now $60. Entry fee for the 5K is $25 afterward.

Young athletes fun run entry is $10.

All proceeds from the event will benefit the Payson Area Habitat for Humanity. Its projects include building 14 townhomes at Longhorn Village located at the corner of Longhorn and McLane. To register, or for more information,

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