Ross Hage’s best hope is that plenty of people turn out to encourage runners as they maneuver their way through the Rim Country Challenge, Payson’s annual half-marathon and 5K.
“I thought it would be great if we could encourage the community get their lawn chairs and cheer on the runners,” he said.
Hage is a board member of the Habitat for Humanity, which receives the proceeds from the event.
For those who’d like to either participate in the event or lend support to the athletes, all races start and finish at Payson’s scenic Green Valley Park. The half-marathon and relay begins at 8 a.m., the 5K kicks off at 8:15 a.m. and the young athletes’ fun run starts at 9 a.m.
The half-marathon course is hilly and provides a challenging route that runs through scenic areas of Payson.
At last year’s run, Scott Griffin of Leadville, Colo., who was in Payson visiting his parents, took the gold in 1:42. He overtook runner-up Karen Doonmoyer on the downside of Airport Hill.
Griffin said the course was tough, but it was rendered easier because he was competing at a lower altitude than he was used to in Leadville.
Those who live on Payson Parkway or near McLane, Airport or Vista Roads should have ideal locations to watch portions of the race. The course also traverses through Manzanita Hills.
A good spot to watch the final stretch, where runners will be battling for last gasp honors, is along Country Club.
The 5K course is less difficult and weaves throughout Payson neighborhoods.
At the conclusion of the benefit, awards will be given to the first overall male and female finishers of the half-marathon and 5K.
Awards will also be given to the first three male and female finishers in each age division, and certificates will be awards to all young athlete participants.
Registration is open through today, Sept. 26, with late registration available from 6:30 to 7:30 a.m. on race day.
Entry fees are $40 for the half-marathon, $20 for the 5K, $120 per team for the relay teams and $10 for the young athletes’ fun run for those who register by Sept. 26.
For more race information and to register go to: www.rimcountrychallenge.com.