MOORE, Okla. — Moore Norman Technology Center (MNTC) Workforce & Economic Development Director Joe Ely said it all started with just one question: “Can we use the hill on your property to train?”
Moore cross-country runners have taken their practice to main roads around town for decades. But as housing editions and businesses develop, traffic and safety have become growing concerns.
A Westmoore High School cross-country coach saw the problem but also a solution.
The Technology Center had about 30 acres of unused land behind the campus.
MNTC Maintenance Technician Kris Schwalbe planned a running trail specific for cross-country athletes using the land. A runner himself, Schwalbe was searching for a solution to help MPS students stay off the busy roadways.
The MNTC team mowed a 1.85-mile trail with multiple entries and exits. The uneven terrain is ideal for cross-country runners as it has increased and decreased elevation points, some wide clearings and even some shaded areas. Runners can make any combination of route changes over the trail to generate the 5K or longer.
MPS Superintendent Dr. Robert Romines said, “This is such a huge blessing to our cross-country runners and coaches. The safety concern for our athletes training on roads will always exist, but now having a safe option like this is truly amazing and we can’t thank MNTC enough for thinking of us.”
Romines, MPS Athletic Director Brian Fitzgerald, MHS Coach Brian Givens, MNTC Superintendent Brian Ruttman and Ely took a ride on the trail to experience the expansiveness, terrain and distance. MPS Athletic Assistant Directors Chad Mashburn and Greg George were also on-hand to experience the new path.
“The trail MNTC mowed for our runners is outstanding. We really appreciate the hard work and the thought in the design of the course that the MNTC team put into this project,” MPS Athletic Director Brian Fitzgerald said.
The trail is open to any student and community members on weekends.
“We’re just happy to help these runners, and honestly, this is the mission of technology centers in Oklahoma. We’re here for our communities and our job is to find not only industry solutions, but sometimes, as in this case, we offer help in unique ways to our partners in education,” Ely said.
MNTC Superintendent Brian Ruttman said he was proud of his team for developing a solution that benefits the community and MPS students.
“We hope this trail offers a safer option for cross-country runners of Moore Public Schools and we are happy to have been able to provide this unique and beautiful space,” he said.
The partnership MPS has with MNTC has been lasting, as high school juniors and seniors can take an MNTC program on their school schedule and work toward industry certifications and career training before graduation.
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