Rim Country Challenge Ready And Set To Go

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Mary McMullen and Deb Rose of the Payson Parks, Recreation and Tourism Department will for the second year serve as race directors and hosts of the Fourth Annual Rim Country Challenge to be held Oct. 3 in Green Valley Park and on Payson streets.

Challenge events include a half-marathon, 5K, young athletes’ fun run and a half-marathon team relay.

The proceeds from the Challenge benefit the Payson Area Habitat for Humanity, which has as a mission “to provide decent, affordable and healthy housing for low-to-moderate income residents.”

All races start and finish at GVP. The half-marathon and relay begin 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.

Sponsors have issued a warning of sorts, saying, “the course is not flat and fast, so don’t expect to set any speed records. It is called the Rim Country Challenge for that reason.”

Last year, 28-year-old Brandon Day of Lakeside dominated the half-marathon field in a record time of 1:18.10.

Shane Hengest took the 5K title in 19:40 or a 6:20 pace.

Rendering Day’s feat even more remarkable is that he was running into a headwind most of the time.

At the 2008 event, which drew a record 200-plus entrants, 14 runners turned in times faster than 2007 winner Scott Griffin of Leadville, Colo.

Prime locations to watch the runners are on Payson Parkway, McLane, Airport or Vista Roads. 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.

McMullen calls the relay event, which debuted last year, a special attraction because it gives those athletes not wanting to run an entire half-marathon a chance to compete, and it’s a great way to showcase local businesses.

“We’d like them (businesses) to get involved by sponsoring the (relay) teams,” she said.

The only change to the event this year will be the addition of a new sponsor, the Kevin Dick Investment Management Group, and an 80-years-plus age group.

“We hope we get a few of them,” McMullen said.

At the conclusion of the run, awards will also be given to the first three male and female finishers in each age division, and certificates will be awarded to all young athlete participants.

Registration is open until 5 p.m. today, Sept. 25, on the rimcountrychallenge.com Web site. Also late registration will be available from 6:30 a.m. 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 today.

After today, the fees increase by $20. The fun run fees, however, will not increase.

For more race information and to register, go to: www.rimcountrychallenge.com.

Rifle sight in

The Tonto Rim Sports Club will he hosting tomorrow, Sept. 26 and on Oct. 3, “sight ins” at the Jim Jones Shooting Range.

The events, which begin at 9 a.m. and conclude at 5 p.m., are open to all hunters, but non-members of TRSC will be charged $5 for use of the range.

During the sight ins, hunters may use the range and its facilities to calibrate their mounted scopes to make just the right shot once they come across that perfect buck or bull.

Most hunters agree it takes a full box of ammunition — sometimes more — to properly sight in a rifle.

Hunters may have their rifles bore-sighted at any local gun shop, but TRSC range officers will be available during the two sight in days to help those that do not have their guns bore-sighted.

Among the club officers adept at sighting is Charlie Thompson, also the TRSC spokesman.

Thompson will be available both Saturdays to lend his expertise.

Those who have not used the range recently will notice it has undergone a facelift.

Improvements include six new shooting bays, a 300-yard range, area covers and a field archery range, complete with 3-D targets.

The range is located 2.2 miles south of the Mazatzal Casino off the Beeline Highway — to reach it, turn left onto a gravel road and drive 1.5 miles to the entrance.

For more information, call Thompson at (928) 468-1521.

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