Running and walking enthusiasts from all over the Permian Basin will test their meddle against one of the area's biggest challenges — the historic Scenic Mountain — on April 13, as Big Spring State Park prepares to host the 15th annual Master the Mountain Fun Run and Walk.
Registration for the event is under way for the 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. “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.
“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.”
Entry fee for the run — which is slated to get under way at 1 p.m. with registration from 10 a.m. until noon — is $20 before April 13 and $25 the day of the event, and includes a commemorative T-shirt.
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 fundraiser for the State Park, and helps show the state just how important the park’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 very special reminder about exercising away from the annual event.
“I started running about 10 years ago, and it’s had a tremendous impact on my health,” said Alton. “You can’t believe the amount of energy that 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.”
The 1 p.m. start represents a time change from previous years, when the event was held in the early morning hours. However, officials have moved the start time so that it does not conflict with the Chamber of Commerce's Health Fair, which is held on the same day from 8 a.m. to 1 p.m. at Dorothy Garrett Coliseum.
For more information on the “Master the Mountain” Fun Run and Walk, contact Alton at 432-263-4931. To register online, visit www.permianbasinevents.com