Road racing season highlighted by local action

Tanner Cook • Jun 6, 2019 at 4:33 PM

The temperatures are rising and local runners are hoping to burn up the roads this summer in the Tri-Cities and beyond.

June and July are usually good months to put in a lot of miles and prep for a big fall race, but there are still a lot of quality races on the docket in the hotter months. The following is a brief look at some of the local road races in the area and the running groups.

June 8: Varmint Half Marathon (Burkes Garden, Va.)

The beautiful bowl in the heart of Tazewell County in Southwest Virginia offers some of the best views in an area race. The course is known for being tough with an incline almost every mile, but the pain is well worth the views.

The drive is a bit of a haul from either Johnson City or Kingsport, but this is a race that you will circle on the calendar once you do it once. The race starts promptly at 8 a.m. and cost until race day is $50. Finishers will receive a medal and everyone gets a t-shirt.

June 8: Blue Plum 5K (Johnson City)

For those not wanting to rise before the sun or the pain of the hills in Burkes Garden, the Blue Plum 5K is always a quality event that runs through downtown Johnson City. The race runs in conjunction with the ongoing Blue Plum Festival.

There is also a Little Plum Dash, for children under 12, that begins at 9 a.m. The cost is $25 for both the 5K and kids race.

The race has been conducted in the evenings previous years, but has now been moved back to a morning start at 8. The race is also dog-friendly and will start at the corner of Whitney and Wilson Streets — and finish on South Commerce Street behind King Commons Park.

June 15: Covered Bridge 5K (Elizabethton)

The historic Covered Bridge 5K is getting a different look this year with a new course that still finishes through the landmark, but includes a section of the Tweetsie Trail. The course is already flat and fast, so someone could be looking at a nice race for a new personal best.

All the proceeds from the race will benefit the Sycamore Shoals Hospital Foundation. Both the 5K and 3K walk begin at 8 a.m.

The cost is $20 for pre-registration until June 7 and $25 until race day.

June 22: Rhododendron 10K (Bakersville, N.C.)

This small town road race always has a big-time feel with the added bonus of prize money for the top two finishers in both the male and female fields. The race will run for the 42nd time this year on the other side of Roan Mountain and is truly a hidden gem of a race for the area.

Entry fee is $20 pre-registration by June 8 and $30 until race day.

Be weary of the flat and fast first two miles as the third and fourth mile climbs slightly, but is hardly noticeable. The downhill finish back to the elementary school is always welcoming, though.

June 29: Achin’ For the Bacon 5K River Run (Erwin)

This race is about as flat as it can get running on the Erwin Linear Trail and beside the Nolichucky River the entire time. If you don’t come for the flat course, come for the bacon and pancake breakfast afterward. The race proceeds will benefit CASA of Northeast Tennessee.

The cost is $25 until June 27 and race day is $30.

July 13: Ballad Health and Niswonger Children’s Hospital Crazy 8s 8K (Kingsport)

As part of Kingsport FunFest, the annual crown jewel of local road racing returns with a brand new flat course for this year. Both of the hills at “Githuka’s Hill” coming up Wilcox and the infamous 1K pull up Fort Henry Drive after halfway are out. The new but still figure-eight course will almost certainly yield a personal best in the best race of the year.

For those looking for a challenge, run the Almost Crazy 3K an hour before along with the 8K to receive the special “Totally Crazy” medal.

The start is at 8:58 p.m. and cost until July 11 is $25. Race day registration is $30.

Summer Track Meets

The State of Franklin Track Club is again staging a series of four summer track meets at local high school tracks with free entry fees. The meet hosts a variety of events from the 100-meter dash to the one-mile run. There are also youth events.

The first and second meets are June 11 and 18, respectively, at David Crockett. The third meet is at Daniel Boone on June 25 and the final meet is July 9 at Dobyns-Bennett.

Registration opens at 6 p.m. with the first events beginning at 6:30 p.m.

Local running groups

The Tri-Cities Trail Runners meet every Tuesday at 5:30 p.m. in the upper parking lot on Southwest Ave. near the East Tennessee State Woods. Runners of all levels are welcome whether you be a trail newbie or a seasoned veteran.

The Johnson City Group Run meets every Thursday at 5:30 p.m. starting at the lower parking lot of the Wellness Center on Medtech Parkway. The run is usually five miles through area neighborhoods.

“Turtles at Tipton” is one of the more popular group runs beginning at the Yee-Haw Brewing Company in downtown Johnson City. The run is usually four miles and new members are welcomed with a free eight-ounce beer if desired. The run ends at the Tipton Street Pub. It begins at 6 p.m. every Thursday.

For more information on local road races, running groups or any of the summer track meets, visit www.runtricties.org or www.werunevents.com.

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