HERMISTON - As intimidating as it may sound, the Butte Challenge isn't actually a race to the top of the Hermiston landmark.

Instead it's a lap around the natural rock structure and the surrounding area, and the public interest has skyrocketed for this year's edition.

More than 90 people have already signed up to take part in the fundraiser for the Lower Columbia Basin Anti-Drug Coalition, and with a no-deadline setup organizers feel the final participant count may be as high as 150.

Events include the 5k and 10k walks and runs for men and women divided into age groups with individual awards given to the winners.

The only run winner from last year who has signed up again this year is Hermiston's Melody Sanchez, who won the women's 5k with a time of 22:18.69.

Eric Jensen, who last year won the mens 10k at 37:05.66, won't make a go at a repeat because he will be coaching the Stanfield track team at their district tournament.

One likely candidate to take his spot at the top is future Hermiston cross country coach Jake Puzey, who wasn't living in the area during last year's event.

The Delgado family has run in the event for at least the last four years and are looking forward to taking the course again this year.

"The whole family runs it, and it's something we enjoy and enjoy supporting," said Joe Delgado. "I moan to my wife about it, but really I like going out there and seeing the other people running and walking."

It's the only annual race his family participates in, but Delgado likes to compete because it gives him a goal to reach each year.

Walkers and runners from as far as Portland to the west and Ontario to the east have already signed up, and will compete alongside a myriad of Umatilla county individuals.

The race starts at 8:30 a.m. at the Butte Park where late sign-ups are welcome, and raffle tickets can be purchased at the Hermiston East Oregonian office or at time of the event.

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