Blue Ridge Relay sweeps through area
It is the largest annual event in Mitchell County, and it happens while most people are sleeping.
The Blue Ridge Relay meandered through Mitchell County overnight Friday, Sept. 7, bringing thousands of people through the area until the wee hours Saturday morning.
The Blue Ridge Relay is one of the longest running relay races in the United States. It consists of a minimum four-person to maximum 12-person teams that rotate through 36 transition areas as they cover the approximate 208-mile distance of the race, from Grayson Heights, Virginia, to Asheville.
Each relay team member runs three legs of varying lengths and difficulty and will cover an average total distance of 16.6 miles. The runners rotate in a set order once the race begins and are obligated to follow this rotation until the final runner finishes.
The local team F3 Run for Holland, out of Spruce Pine, ran the relay. Team members Caleb Kneen, Isaac Glenn, Adam Stafford, Corey Runyon, Dalton Hughes, Bryan Thayer, Federico Hernandez, Daniel Ray, Steven Kautz, Eliseo Sanchez, Grant Sparks and Adam Burleson finished 19th overall this year.
“I have run it for five years,” Burleson said. “Most locals don’t even know it has been coming through our county because of the hours it happens.”
The Mitchell County portion of the BRR runs over Hanging Rock Road, Gouges Creek, Cabin Road, Upper Street to Ingles, Stroup Street to 226 and out to Bakersville Fire Department then runs to Tipton Hill School and over Jacks Creek into Burnsville. It usually takes about 24-30 hours for teams to finish.
Bakersville Fire Department was a hub of activity at 2 a.m. Saturday as runners were able to eat, sleep and shower, if they so choose, before beginning the next leg of the race.
“It’s like this until daybreak,” said Ashley Beam, Bakersville Fire Department chief. “We have done this for the runners the past few years, and there are thousands of people through here, and most people don’t even know about it.”