Peanut butter causes rough ride, sticky contest

Mike Linn

You could be strong, agile, a skilled horseback rider and fleet of foot, but if you couldn’t inhale a peanut butter sandwich there was no hope of winning the Roosevelt Rough Rider Challenge Saturday at the Portales City Park.
As a matter of fact, the contest’s winner, Lalo Aranda Jr., said his love for peanut butter pushed him to the top.
“The horse part was more difficult,” Aranda said. “The scarfing of the peanut butter sandwich was pretty good — I liked that. I love peanut butter, especially from Portales.”
The competition had three stages: throwing a 50-pound bag of peanuts over two 3-foot high obstacles; racing on a horse and grabbing a bottle of milk that was hanging 10 feet off the ground; dismounting from the horse and running 40 yards to a sandwich line where competitors had to drink the milk and eat a sandwich under the clock.
Aranda, who finished the competition with a time of 1 minute 50 second, said he will use the $500 first-place prize to take his family to a nice restaurant.
Clint Walker finished second with a time of 1:55 and won $300. Ron Jackson finished third at 2:06 and won $100.
For most competitors, the physical stuff was the easy part.
Eating the sandwich and drinking the milk, on the other hand, made the contest a scarfing match. Many who made it to the sandwich line first finished last in their three-competitor heats.
“This really turned into an eating contest, and that’s not what we wanted,” said Kim Huffman, director of the Roosevelt County Chamber of Commerce. “We want the hurdles to be critical, the good riders to do good, the good runners to do good, and as it turned out it wasn’t always that the first person who got to the eating line was the winner.
“But we’ll work on it for future competitions. And it was fun anyway, a great success.”
For one competitor, the sandwich eating delayed his overall time, even after he beat his opponents to the sandwich line by a good 20 seconds.
“Running from the horse drop off to the sandwich line you get winded; and trying to eat a dry peanut butter sandwich afterward is tough, then you got to finish the milk,” Portales resident Martin Jasso said after his heat.
Others were more blunt, and some even gave up on the sandwich.
“I really don’t want to finish this sandwich. That’s it — I’m not finishing,” said competitor Billy Smith during the race.
“I hate peanut butter,” joked Palo Ortega, with a mouth full of sandwich.
Even with the sandwich difficulties, the competitors had a loud cheering section.
“Five hundred bucks, 500 bucks,” Mayor Orlando Ortega shouted. “Come on now hustle. Come on, folks, give them a hand.”