It's not too late to get in a few practice runs before the Rim Country Challenge begins Oct. 4.
The training jaunts can be made doubly worthwhile by hooking up with veteran runners Linda Gibson and Peggy Miles. The two are offering free half marathon training sessions at 7 a.m. each Saturday. The sessions begin at the Payson Parks and Recreation office at Green Valley Park.
To participate, simply show up ready to run.
All races start and finish at Payson's scenic Green Valley Park. The half marathon and relay begins at 8 a.m., the 5K begins at 8:15 a.m. and the young athletes' fun run begins at 9 a.m.
For those interested in participating in the upcoming RCC event but don't want to run the entire 13.1 miles, a new division is being offered.
"They can partner with up to three teammates to complete the route," Town of Payson Trails and Outdoor Recreation Coordinator Mary McMullen said. "This is a chance for new people to become race participants and for businesses to sponsor a team."
Also new this year is the young athletes' fun run.
Awards will be given to the first overall male and female finishers of the marathon and 5K. Awards will also be given to the first three male and female finishers in each age division and certificates will be given to all young athlete participants.
Registration is open through Sept. 26, with late registration available from 6:30 to 7:30 a.m. on race day.
All proceeds from the event benefit the Payson Area Habitat for Humanity.
PAHH board member Ross Hage touts the run as one that "benefits a terrific cause -- providing affordable housing for those in need."
He also says the half marathon "provides an opportunity for Arizonans to do something fun and healthy in the great outdoors during one of the most beautiful times of year in the Rim Country."
The Friends And Neighbors (FAN) Club is reviving a Payson each month at Pioneer title," Daniels said. "If you are a club in the schools and need help organizing or in need of fund-raising, you are also welcome to attend our meetings."
Stampede date change
The 2008 Payson Stampede will be held Sept. 20-21 at the Payson Event Center and on mountain trails around the Rim Country.
Last year, the mountain bike event was held in the spring.
With the date change, the Payson event will become the 2009 and 2010 24-Hour Mountain Bike National Championships.
For the upcoming Stampede, Dan Basinski will serve as course director and the onsite NORBA official.
Among his pre-race duties this year was to tweak the race course by lengthening it to about 10 miles and changing some of the routes.
Basinski said the new course would begin on the event center trail and head south over old Forest Service roads into West Saddle and along rocky ATV and Jeep trails near Oxbow Estates.
The finish is at the original start line at the Payson Event Center.
In past years, some Payson teams have fared well.
Of the four-person teams entered in the 2006 Veteran Division, the Payson Posse rode its way to the championship. The foursome -- Ken Shepherd, Nick Payne, Eric Kush and Gorry -- completed 25 10-mile laps during the endurance event. The victory marked the second successive year the Payson Posse won the Stampede's Veteran Division title.
In the 24-hour 2005 solo male 19- to 29-year age group, Payson cyclist Eric Molitor finished third. He was 13th overall among the solo cyclists.
For the upcoming race, cyclists can race solo or in two-, four- or five-person teams. For the five-person teams, one entrant must be a woman.
Also there is a corporate team division with 6 to 10 riders.
Also, races can be for 6, 12 or 24 hours.
The 6-hour race will begin at noon and finish at 6 p.m. The 12-hour race is from noon to midnight and the 24-hour race goes from 12 p.m. to 12 p.m.
Basinski said it is for those riders who want to race solo but do not want to go for 24 hours.
Also, a youth division for cyclists 19 years and under has been added. They will have the option of racing two laps on the Rim Country course.
The number of laps completed during the designated hours will determine the winners.
Basinski anticipates the winning 24-hour rider this year could complete about 22 of the 10-mile laps.
Although the Stampede is a test of physical and mental endurance, Basinski also calls it "a happening, a festival" in which cyclists from around the west gather for friendship and a wild time.
Many of the competitors will camp out near PEC. For more information, call Jonathan Grider at (928) 607-6737 or log on to www.tucsonracing.com/.