From fast five milers to uphill ultras, here are five races in the Blue Ridge region to put on your calendar in the new year.
Whiskey Tango Foxtrot Half Marathon
Set in the North Carolina piedmont, not far from Greensboro, this winter trail race is for runners who don’t mind being cold and wet. The loop course at the Whiskey Tango Foxtrot winds through the woods of Northeast Park, crossing the Reedy River twice. Water levels can vary from inches to feet, so it’s not uncommon for competitors to be quite soggy by the end. But the sting of being wet in frigid temps after running 13.1 miles is relieved by the cold beer served at the finish line. TriviumRacing.com
Cooper River Bridge Run
Mt. Pleasant, S.C.
This iconic Southern road race is set to take place on its normal spring date for the first time since 2019. The point-to-point 10K on the South Carolina coast takes runners from Mt. Pleasant to downtown Charleston via the 2.5-mile Arthur Ravenel Jr. Bridge, which offers excellent views of the surrounding Low Country waterways. The 45-year-old event attracts a big field—from elite runners to casual striders—who come together to celebrate the run with a post-race festival at Charleston’s Marion Square. BridgeRun.com
Crazy 8s 8K
The Crazy 8s 8K is anything but a typical road race. Runners hit the starting line at night (last year’s start time was 8:58 p.m.) and follow a figure-eight shaped course through the candle-lit streets of Kingsport with big crowds gathering to cheer in support. But beyond the fun format, the event, branded as the “World’s Fastest 8K,” has built international renown for its insanely speedy competition, with multiple records set for the world’s fastest 8K during the race’s 30-plus years by both men and women. Crazy8s.org
Moonlight on the Falls Marathon
Bring a headlamp and run under the stars at Black Water Falls State Park, which holds craggy Appalachian terrain and West Virginia’s largest waterfall as its centerpiece. The challenging road race starts at 10pm and rolls through the night to avoid the summer heat, as competitors complete multiple laps on a loop course that’s a little over six and a half miles. In addition to the marathon distance (26.2 miles), there are shorter half- and quarter-marathon options, as well as a distance challenge that can be completed as a multi-person relay team. Moonlight runners also enjoy a festival atmosphere that includes vendors and bands getting runners pumped up with pre-race jams. CanaanValleyHalfMarathon.com
Blue Ridge Ultra
Blue Ridge, Ga.
Fall colors in the north Georgia mountains are starting to show when runners test their mettle at this tough 50K in the Chattahoochee National Forest. The loop course covers a variety of terrain to keep things interesting, including rooty singletrack, steep ascents, and water crossings, as it takes racers on fire roads and 16 miles of Benton MacKaye Trail. From takeoff to finish at the Toccoa River, the route has a total elevation change of more than 6,000 feet. Shorter options of 30K and 15K are also offered. ARGeorgia.com
Cover photo: Runners cross the Arthur Ravenel Jr. Bridge at the Cooper River Bridge Run. Photo by The Chart Group