Lurking in the woods, the Mogollon Monster is a camper’s worst nightmare. But this time of year, the monster gets hungry for something more.
Runners beware: The monster is expected to make an appearance Saturday at the Payson Event Center.
Perhaps more terrifying than the monster itself, is the nightmare that lies between the start and finish of one of the muddiest events around.
The Town of Payson is once again putting on an outdoor competition, the Arizona Mountain High Games, but things are a little different in now the event’s sixth year.
Instead of a host of competitions, organizers this year are focusing instead on just two — the Mogollon Monster Mudder 5K Mud Run and Monster Truck night.
After its debut last year, the town quickly realized it had finally struck gold — black, muddy gold that is.
So gone are the archery and horseshoe toss competitions found in games past.
In their place is the Mudder, a 5K mountain trail run with natural and man-made obstacles, challenging ups and downs, rocky, wooded and wet terrain, shallow water crossings and, of course, more mud than is natural at this time of year in Rim Country.
The trails for past runs at the Mountain High Games were sometimes naturally treacherous with hills, loose rocks, brush and more. The 2014 Mountain High Games will be treacherous at an entirely different level — even a little malicious in spots. And definitely much muddier — given the name; it is after all, called the Mogollon Monster Mudder 5K, said Cameron Davis, director of Parks, Recreation & Tourism.
The race features more than two-dozen menacing obstacles, including a Tunnel of Doom, Arctic Trench, Coliseum of Terror and Hills of Peril, organizers say. Competitors will walk through pits of muddy quicksand sure to steal their shoes, crawl under tires and rows of barbed wire, face a rocky hike through the forest, carry firefighting hoses up and down bleachers, swim through icy pools and huff themselves up and over log walls — all while spectators watch on in delight.
It is a timed event, but with an emphasis on fun and teamwork — everyone is encouraged to help each other finish safely.
Judges will record times individually, combining those with a runner’s team times, if applicable. Runners have two hours to finish, with most finishing last year in 45 to 90 minutes. That means a competitor could go less than 2 miles per hour and still complete the course.
Costumes are encouraged and a special prize will be awarded for the best costume. Organizers are looking for costumes that best resemble the Bigfoot/Mogollon Monster theme.
The Payson Arizona Mountain High Games are the Southwest’s largest celebration of adventure sports combined with an outdoor expo, Davis said.
Professional and amateur athletes from all over the Southwest and the Pacific Northwest will converge upon Payson to compete for cash and prizes.
There will also be an officer vs. firefighters mud run on Friday night and the Monster Truck Night of Fire & Thrills Spectacular Saturday night.
The venue is the Payson Event Center, located at the south end of town directly across the highway from the Mazatzal Hotel and Casino.
At approximately 11:30 a.m., right after the end of the adult mud run, kids will have a crack at the fun with the Kidz Monster Mud Run for those ages 8-12.
If you are looking to participate in one of the three events, go online to the website at www.paysonrimcountry.com.
Once you are done with the race, visit the hospitality area and enjoy the Dina Preston Band. There will also be a beer garden, food, raffles and vendors.