MNTC Cross Country Trail Designed as a Safety Solution for MPS Runners

MOORE, Okla. (Sept. 13, 2022) — “Can we use the hill on your property to train?” That single question to Moore Norman Technology Center Workforce & Economic Development Director Joe Ely by a Westmoore High School cross country coach has turned into a cross country trail project that Moore Public Schools students and community members can now enjoy.  


If you have lived in the Moore and south Oklahoma City area long enough, you will likely have seen young runners, sometimes in a group, gliding up and down main roads. They are usually MPS cross-country runners working for their practice miles and training for their upcoming fall season. Although this type of road training has happened for many decades in the district, as housing editions and businesses have developed, traffic has increased putting MPS road runners at risk.


Recognizing the physical danger while often seeing MPS runners close to their campus, and after being asked about their hills, employees at MNTC’s South Penn Campus developed a safe solution and performed a labor of love. MNTC Maintenance Technician Kris Schwalbe planned a running trail specific for cross-country athletes using the open back 30 acres behind the campus site. 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 distances they seek.


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,” Fitzgerald said.


Ely said students or community members should feel free to even train on weekends. The Cleveland County Safety Resource Officer on-site at the campus will know to look out for them and assist if ever necessary. He said during the week, MNTC SROs put their vehicles inside the east and south entrances of the campus with their lights on to keep drivers alert to the athletes practicing.


“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.


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. This type of partnership, however, is one that goes the distance.


Learn more about Moore Public Schools here. To find out about career training and industry solutions available through MNTC visit