Owl Bar Run keeps Tech students on their feet

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The Owl Bar Run is a challenge; it's a 13 mile walk/run from New Mexico Tech's gym to San Antonio's Owl Bar. Held every spring and fall semester, it will take place on Friday, Oct. 5.

There is no set time, and it's not a competition, said Melissa Begay, who has been director of physical recreation and student activities at Tech for 13 years. There will be three shuttles from the Owl Bar taking participants back to Tech at 11 a.m., 3 p.m. and 6 p.m. Participants can walk, jog, run or ride a bike. Bikes however, can't be shuttled back, so the participants would have to ride their bikes back to Socorro. Started by Jim McCarthy, the Owl Bar Run has a history starting in the 1970s, and Begay says it's called a fun run, but it's a challenge because it's a half marathon.

The fun run is free and is open to everyone who wants to participate. Participants will be running along a secluded area by the Rio Grande ditch bank, Begay said. This is the second time Tech's track and field club has participated in the event. Last year numerous students participated, along with Tech's track and field club participants. Since the fun run is 13 miles, there will be five water stations along the trail, starting at Mile Marker Four, and every two thereafter, Begay said. There will also be markers on the trail so participants will know where to go.

For the last two years, there has been an increase of participants for the Owl Bar Run thanks to Socorro's Striders and Riders who publicized the marathon on their website, she said. Socorro High School's cross country coach, Steven Montoya, also brings his cross country team often as he can, which also helped to increase the number of participants, Begay said.

"It's amazing what one will do for a free hamburger," Begay said.

For the fun run in the spring, Tech's track and field club received money from the Student Government Association to buy hamburgers from the Owl Bar to give out to the first 30 students and first 10 faculty and staff who showed up. This time, the Owl Bar will offer 40 free hamburgers to the students and 10 free hamburgers for faculty and staff.

Once participants reach the Owl Bar, they will receive a free non-alchoholic drink and t-shirt. The Owl Bar Run is an important tradition, Begay said.

"In the fall it's cooler, and you can see the countryside," Begay said.

She said the challenge is important because it promotes activity to help get people motivated. Begay said they have never had to pick up any participants up along the way, but have come close. There are usually more male than female participants because there are more men at NMT, Begay said. However, for faculty and staff, there are more women who participate than men. Staff members enjoy the workout and the challenge, and they also walk or jog together in a group.

"Even though it's 13 miles, I hope it doesn't discourage individuals," Begay said. "Whether you are by yourself or with a friend, you can feel the breeze in the trees, and see the wildlife. You just enjoy the day and you hold the bragging rights that you ran or walked 13 miles."