Mountain masters are sought

Running and walking enthusiasts from all over the Permian Basin will test their mettle against one of the area’s biggest challenges — the historic Scenic Mountain — on April 14. That’s when Big Spring State Park hosts the 14th annual Master the Mountain Fun Run and Walk.Registration for the event is under way as state park officials get ready to hold 5K and 10K contests along the facility’s hills and slopes.“You can run around a flat track all day long and not get anywhere near the effect you get from running the hills and slopes of Scenic Mountain,” said Ron Alton, manager of the Big Spring State Park and an avid runner. “You really can’t find the kind of hills that we offer with this run anywhere else. I’ve heard runners refer to one of the hills on the run as Terminator Hill. The steep grades really offer a challenge to runners.”Alton said the event has continued to grow during the past several years, with this year’s contest featuring the return of the 10K race and fun run.“We’ve really been fortunate. Several people have stepped up and really helped us make the Master the Mountain a success in the community and it’s grown considerably during the past several years,” Alton said. “This year we’ll be having the 5K run, 5K walk, 10K run and 10K walk. There will be awards given for first, second and third place male and female finishers in each run.“We feel really good going into this event. It’s a lot of fun each year. Some folks will come and treat it as very competitive, and then some will take part just for fun. It’s something the runners in the area really look forward to.”The entry fee for the run — which is slated to get under way at 9 a.m. with late registration from 7:30 a.m. until 8:30 a.m. — is $19 before Tuesday and $20 after, which includes a commemorative T-shirt for participants. And while the races seem to draw the serious competitors, Alton said the beauty of the mountain draws just as many people for the walking division.“You don’t have to run to be a part of the fun,” said Alton. “We get a lot of people who participate in the walk just because of the beauty of the park, and the view from the 200-foot bluff is just unbelievable. Whether you’re running hard or just walking along, it’s hard to ignore the beauty from there.”Alton said the fun run doubles as a fund-raiser for the park, and helps show the state just how important the facility’s role is in the community.“The state really looks at events like these when it comes to the state parks and the funds each one is allocated,” he said. “So this run is really important — not just to the health of the runners and walkers in and around the community, but to the longevity of the park itself.” Alton said he hopes people take a special reminder about exercising when they leave the event.“I started running about nine years ago, and it’s had a tremendous impact on my health,” said Alton. “You can’t believe the amount of energy it creates. It sounds funny, but exercise breeds energy. At the end of the run you’re so tired you can barely stand up, but the next day you have even more energy.”For more information on the “Master the Mountain” Fun Run and Walk, contact Alton at 432-263-4931. To register, contact Craig Felty by e-mail at or register online at timingspecialist.comContact Staff Writer Thomas Jenkins at 263-7331 ext. 232 or by e-mail at