When people praise the Smokies, it’s often the area’s status as a four-season bonanza of beauty that spurs the discussion. From snow-blanketed winters to vibrant-leafed autumns, these mountains dress to impress year-round.
By Jamie Arnold • Contributing writer
It’s a 95-degree Sunday afternoon. Most folks are at the lake, or lounging on the couch with a cold beer. Me? I’m on my mountain bike, grinding my way up a 5,000-foot mountain, all because my buddy Don decided to add the Off Road Assault on Mount Mitchell to his bucket list.
Following the vein of cheap tattoos, lost wallets and accidental scars, a beer-induced challenge ended with both of us registered to compete in the infamous July 31 event. Now, two months later, we’re winding our way up a dusty brown gravel wall. A loud truck rumbles past, throwing even more gritty dust into the stifling 90-degree air. I glance down at my wheels to see the slow, never-ending gravel treadmill as I pick my way up the mountain.
As the sun goes down on the snow-covered mountain at Cataloochee Ski Area, anticipation spikes among the enlightened few who know what Thursday night on the slopes means.
From paved 5K routes to epic trail runs and triathlons, Western North Carolina is rife with outdoor races of all types. But a peek at the history shows that the bulk of these events are new arrivals on the landscape, most founded in the past decade or so with new ones popping up each year.
“Sporting events seem to be growing across the nation, and people are interested in taking their families on these trips,” said CeCe Hipps, executive director of the Haywood County Chamber of Commerce. “What better place to be in the great outdoors than Haywood County?”
Sitting on a toilet, Kyle Iezzi is ready for victory.
“The main thing is that I hope we go straight,” the 15-year-old said.
The swim leg of a triathlon is notoriously daunting. Of the sport’s three heats — swimming, biking and running — the water is the most brutal and dangerous.
It’s every person for him or herself as the racers jump from a dock or surge forward from shore, creating a sea of flailing limbs and churning water as they jockey to get an early lead off the start.
You’ve been training for months. You’ve skipped the kids’ piano recitals and parent teacher conferences; you’ve bailed on dinner with the in-laws (several times) and nights out with the friends — all to adhere to your strict training schedule to prepare for the big moment: the big race.
By Michael Beadle
If you’re a mountain biker looking for a challenging course that’s as cold as it is fun, check out the Icycle Mountain Bike Event at Fontana Village this weekend.
Checking email has gotten a lot more exciting for Wendy Johnson lately.
As the organizer for the 28th Annual Maggie Valley Moonlight Race this year, Johnson sees a message show up in her in-box every time a runner registers on-line. It’s averaging about 15 a day, and Johnson revels in opening each one to see where the runners are coming from.
By Michael Beadle
You’ll have to excuse Greg Duff if he greets you out of breath.
If he’s not in the middle of coordinating the upcoming Bele Chere 5K, the Inaugural Lake Logan Triathlon, Jackson County’s Tour de Tuck bike race or the Asheville Citizen-Times Half-Marathon/5K, he’s busy training for his next triathlon.