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6 mile trail/road run

Racers gear up for 2016 Master of the Mountains competition

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Named by Trail Runner Magazine as one of the top five adventure races of 2016, Raton’s Master of the Mountains (MOM) Race/Relay is shaping up to be quite the event for both local racers and out-of-town competitors this year.

The MOM adventure race and relay will be held this year on September 10 in Raton, starting at 8 a.m. at the South Boat Ramp of Lake Maloya. Consisting of multiple stages, the first leg of the race course will be a six mile trail run through the rugged terrain of Sugarite Canyon State Park. For the second leg, racers will paddle a roughly three mile course on Lake Maloya at 7,500 feet. From there, competitors will bike twenty miles through the high plains along the Santa Fe Trail through Raton to the N.R.A. Whittington Center, where participants will prove their prowess on a challenging shooting course as the fourth and final stage of the race.

Participants can register for the event as a single individual (solo), completing all elements by his/herself, or as a team of 2, 3, or 4 members where one person from the team completes one or multiple components/segments of the race. There will be a men’s and women’s division for individual participants and men’s, women’s and co-ed for teams if enough teams enter each division (at least 3 teams per division).

The first leg is a 6 mile trail run

Competitors on the race course of the 2015 Master of the Mountains race, held annually in Raton, New Mexico. This year’s adventure race will be held on Sept. 10 starting at 8 a.m. at the South Boat Ramp of Lake Maloya just east of Raton.

While adventure racing is a growing trend in the running/biking world, Raton’s Master of the Mountains event is truly unique. “First, M.O.M. is designed for just about anyone to be able to participate,” explains Jared Chatterley, Director of Parks & Recreation for Raton. “Most folks think that adventure races are for the physically elite. We have had everyone from a 10 year-old boy participate, to a 60 year-old woman. But although just about anyone who is relatively physically fit can finish the race, it is still challenging enough that those more elite competitors feel it is a test of their ability. Second, there are few, if any, adventure races where you can form a team and do it as a relay, with each team member doing a different leg of the race. Most adventure races have teams completing the entire event together. The relay approach is great because it allows people who otherwise can’t or don’t want to do the whole event to still participate.”

With the current push to develop and publicize outdoor recreational options in the area, the Master of the Mountains event truly highlights the best that Raton has to offer. “The initial reason for the creation of the M.O.M. was to promote the outdoor recreation opportunities and venues of the area,” states Chatterley. “Within 15 miles a person can hike, camp, fish, paddle, and mountain bike in Sugarite Canyon State Park, and then coming through Raton can shoot at the NRA Whittington Center’s premier outdoor shooting complex. Our goal was to let people know that when it comes to outdoor recreation, we’ve got it all.”

Competitors do 20 miles on a bike

“It has been awesome to see the event grow and the increase in people who have participated in the race,” explains Chatterley. “There are a lot more people getting out; running, biking, kayaking, and just spending time outdoors as a result of the race. We have a lot of repeat participants who come to try and better their times from previous races, or who participate just to enjoy the fun and camaraderie associated with the M.O.M.”   

For Chatterley, the spirit of the Master of the Mountains race is one of the highlights of the event. “There is something very exciting about a group of people gathering together to participate in an event or challenge. There is a sense of excitement and anticipation; the adrenaline really starts to flow. You can really feel the energy start to build as the race date starts to approach.”

Paddling on Lake Maloya

In order to better meet the needs of the adventure race’s participants, the event organizers have decided to mail out awards to winners instead of holding a ceremony on the day of the race this year. “Due to the time needed to finish the shooting component, in past years participants were sometimes waiting around for hours before all competitors were finished so we could have the awards ceremony. So this year, when a competitor finishes the event, they can pick up their medal, shirt, other race swag, and their complimentary lunch and if they want, head home.  Once all the competitors have finished and the results and times have been finalized, the awards will be emailed to the winners in the following days. This will prevent the necessity of people having to wait around to get their awards,” explains Chatterley.

While many have already registered for the event, new competitors are still encouraged to participate. For new racers, Chatterley has this advice: “Don’t worry about being super competitive the first year. Come, have a good time, and see what the race is all about so you will know how the event works and how to prepare. This way, you will be really ready when you participate the following year.”

According to Chatterley, the volunteers who help facilitate the event on race day are critical to the success of the Master of the Mountains competition, and there are still opportunities for those who are interested in doing so to volunteer. “From folks to man checkpoints and transition areas to hosting the Hospitality Tents, help is always welcome and appreciated,” states Chatterley.

Finish up with some shooting

For more information about volunteering or to sign up to participate in the Master of the Mountains Race/Relay, contact Chatterley at the City of Raton Parks and Recreation Department by calling 575-445-2413, or via email at

Photos by Wentling Photographs / courtesy Master of the Mountains

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