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Blue Ridge Relay to Host Almost 1,500 Runners to the High Country on Friday and Saturday, Sept. 7 to 8

One team after a previous race of the Blue Ridge Relay.

Sept. 6, 2012. One-hundred and forty teams will be running in the eighth annual Blue Ridge Relay on Friday and Saturday, Sept. 7 and 8. 

The Blue Ridge Relay, which started in 2005 with a field of 10 teams and less than 120 runners, will bring nearly 1,500 runners to the High Country the weekend after Labor Day.

The Blue Ridge Relay is a 208-mile team running relay and one of the longest running relay races in the United States. 

One past runner said, “It is truly an amazing event that pushes your body, allows you to see beautiful scenery, and creates amazing memories with old and new friends. I would recommend this race to any runner who truly enjoys the feeling one gets from running.”

Blue Ridge Outdoors Magazine also calls the Blue Ridge Relay “one of the most popular and inevitably longstanding events in the region and beyond.” The Blue Ridge Relay is a local event that attracts runners from all over the Southeast and the US.  It is a 208-mile team running relay (teams consist of 4 to 12 runners who rotate through 36 legs) that follows scenic, country roads as it winds its way through North Carolina’s High Country. 

The course features some of the region’s most spectacular scenery including the balds of Grayson Highlands State Park, the New River, the Blue Ridge Parkway, Grandfather Mountain and the Toe River, and has over 12,000 feet of gain and 14,000 feet of descent.  The course, which starts in Grayson Highlands State Park, winds its way through Jefferson, West Jefferson, Todd, Boone, Blowing Rock, Linville, Newland, Plumtree, Spruce Pine, Bakersville, Burnsville, Barnardsville and finally finishes in downtown Asheville.

 “We have been amazed at the number of teams that return to run the Blue Ridge Relay year after year,” Ken Sevensky, Blue Ridge Relay Race Director, said. “We’re hosting several teams that have run all 8 years and many teams that have run a majority of the years. That’s a huge compliment. Teams return for a variety of reasons…the challenge, the scenery, the competition, the friendships and the support staff/volunteers.”

Another team poses just before race time at a previous Blue Ridge Relay.

“The majority of the community groups have been working with us for five, six and seven years and there are several groups that staff more than one exchange zone/support station…one group in Avery County staffs five zones. These community groups have become such an integral part of the Relay.  They’re experienced, professional and roll out the red carpet of hospitality for the runners,” said Sevensky.

“At the finish line, one of the first comments that runners share is ‘where do you find groups of people to work the entire course and especially at 3:00am…and they do it with smiles and enthusiasm.”

Several community groups also provide food for the runners including gallons of homemade soup and fresh cornbread (Avery County Smooth Dancers and Key Club), hundreds of baked potatoes (Bakersville Fire and Rescue), and hundreds of pounds of pancakes (Pensacola community). 

In addition to the community groups that volunteer along the 208-mile course, this year’s charitable partners are the High Country Toy Run and Ashe Habitat for Humanity.  The High Country Toy Run and Eagle Rock Ministries has been providing gifts in the form of warm clothing, coats, boots, toys and other personal items to children in Watauga, Avery, Ashe and the surrounding area for the last 7 years. 

“The first year of the toy run, we helped 54 children; this is when we realized that the need was much greater…for this past Christmas (2011)…we did not turn one child away and 757 children received a large bag filled with gifts on Christmas morning,” he said. 

Ashe Habitat for Humanity which became an affiliate in October 2008, is nearing completion of its first home.

For additional information about the Blue Ridge Relay, click to www.BlueRidgeRelay.com or call 336.877.8888.

To the start…