There aren’t too many road races in Western North Carolina with the storied history of the Maggie Valley Moonlight Race, sponsored this year by Mission Health System. Nor will you find many, like this one, that take place at night.
Which is exactly why Sean Grady of Cherokee is so inclined to run the upcoming 8K on Aug. 27. He wants to run this race even though he’s preparing for the Marine Corps Marathon on Oct. 30 in Arlington, Va., and despite his careful efforts otherwise to adhere to a peak-at-the-perfect-moment training regimen.
And Grady’s marathon training plan certainly does not call for a 4.8-mile road race this coming weekend.
But that’s the allure of the Maggie Valley Moonlight Race, which in its heyday attracted more than 2,300 people to this Haywood County community. The race has been subject to fits and starts over the last decade — this is the first time in a couple of years it’s been held — but the reputation of the nighttime run is legendary.
“We want to bring back some of the traditions of the race,” said Greg Duff of Glory Hound Events in Asheville, who is organizing this 30th version of the Moonlight Race.
That includes inviting regional running clubs to the run, one of the great traditions Duff wants back. Clubs would have “tailgate” parties, swap meets and meetings for members, and generally good times were had by all.
Grady and wife, Gerri, both belong to Cherokee Runners, a club on the Cherokee Indian Reservation. While Sean Grady is still vacillating a bit about whether to run the race as a tempo run (an outing done at a steady effort level, these runs are generally just a little slower than a runner’s average 10K race pace, helping to develop anaerobic or lactate thresholds), his wife is definitely participating, as are others with the Cherokee running club.
They’ll find an excellent course with plenty of running support, said Duff. The rectangular course takes runners 1.2 miles up the valley to Ghost Town, then 2.4 miles in the opposite direction, before returning them 1.2 miles to the finish line back at the fairgrounds.
The race gets under way at 8:30 p.m.
Want to run the Maggie Valley Moonlight Race?
Cost: $30, with registration/packet pickup on Friday, Aug. 26 from 3-6 p.m. at the Maggie Valley Fairgrounds and from 4-8 p.m. Saturday, Aug. 27 at the fairgrounds.
Time: Race starts at 8:30 p.m.
Awards: 10 p.m. at the fairgrounds stage.
Post race: Budweiser of Asheville is a race sponsor, and all runners, 21 years and older, will be able to receive one beer after the race. Bottled water will also be available at the finish line and food tent.