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2008 Best of the Outdoors : Running

Atlanta Track Club

The Atlanta Track Club guides dozens of smaller running clubs and is responsible for the largest road race in the country, the Peachtree Road Race 10K.

“The enjoyment of a healthy lifestyle through running drives all that we do. Our signature event is the Peachtree Road Race, with a capped field of 55,000. The running community in Atlanta is very strong and continuing to expand. Our climate makes it easier for the casual and seasoned runner to train year round, especially through the winter months.”

—Tracey Russell, executive director of the Atlanta Track Club

2. D.C. Road Runners
3. West Virginia Mountain Trail Runners
4. Hash House Harriers
5. Richmond Road Runners
6. Star City Striders
7. Mangum Track Club
8. Charlottesville Track Club
9. Trail Heads – Chapel Hill
10. Asheville Track Club

New River 50K
Fries, Va.

The inaugural New River 50K, running the length of the New River State Park in Virginia, is one of the first running events to actively curb their waste and resource impact.

“We are striving to have 75% of the products, food, and awards, to come from within 100 miles of the race, or to come from companies with demonstrated records of “kind earth” practices. All registration is online to minimize paper use.  We are encouraging the use of personal water bottles; disposable products will be used only when necessary; and everything possible will be recycled. Runners are encouraged to bring their own bowls and silverware to use at post race lunch. All proceeds will go to The National Committee for the New River, and we’re collecting Clif Bar and Balance Bar wrappers for the Terracycle Initiative. Being “green” is a flexible term, yet it almost always involves using the resources of the local community.”

—Annette Bednosky, race director for the New River 50K

Art Loeb Trail

The Art Loeb Trail is a 30-mile footpath traversing Pisgah National Forest from the Davidson River to the high elevations of Shining Rock Wilderness.

“Art Loeb has over 9,000 feet in climbing in just under 30 miles. The panoramic vistas at 6,000 feet as the trail approaches the Shining Rock Wilderness are some of the best views in all of the Appalachians. There are plenty of great photo ops while running over Black Balsam and Tennant Mountains. What makes the Art Loeb so special is the wonderland of ancient granite plutons, high-altitude forests and expansive southern balds it traverses. Hardly any adventurer could turn down the lure of a singletrack trail destined for these unforgettable places.”

—Matt Kirk, ultrarunner

2. Three Ridges/The Priest, Lynchburg, Va.
3. Moses Cone Trails, Blowing Rock, N.C.
4. DuPont State Forest Trails, Brevard, N.C.
5. Mountains to Sea Trail, N.C.
6. Davidson River Trail, N.C.
7. Massanutten Mountain Trail, Va.
8. Kennesaw Mountain Trails, Ga.
9. Foothills Trail, S.C.
10. North Fork Mountain Trail, W.Va.

Crazy 8s 8K
Kingsport, Tenn.

One of the fastest and exciting races in the region, Crazy 8s attracts the best professional runners from around the world. It’s a late-night summer race with candle-lit streets and a thrilling stadium finish.

2. Cooper River Bridge 10K, Charleston, S.C.
3. Peachtree Road Race 10K, Atlanta, Ga.
4. Ukrops Monument Avenue 10K, Richmond, Va.
4. Cherry Blossom 10-Miler, Washington, D.C.
5. Charlottsville 10-Miler, Charlottesville, Va.
6. Charlotte Southpark Turkey Trot 8K, Charlotte, N.C.
7. Ogden Newspapers Classic 20K, Wheeling, W.Va.
8. Shamrock Sports Fest 8K, Virginia Beach, Va.
9. Army 10-Miler, Washington, D.C.
10. Tennessee Expo 10K, Knoxville, Tenn.

C&O Towpath
Washington, D.C.

The Chesapeake and Ohio Canal Towpath follows the Potomac River for 185 miles from Washington, D.C. to Cumberland, Md.

“On the C&O I can run to places I’ve read about in history books. When I want company, I run the Georgetown to Great Falls section (miles 0 to 15). For a bit of isolation, the section from Great Falls to Whites Ferry (mile 35) is great. The surface of the towpath is mostly clay and crushed stone—great for a nice 185 mile run.”

—James Moore, 64-year old ultrarunner

2. Virginia Creeper Trail, Abingdon, Va.
3. Greenbrier River Trail, W.Va.
4. Silver Comet Trail, Marietta, Ga.
5. W&OD Trail, Arlington, Va.
6. New River Trail, Galax, Va.
7. New River Gorge National Trail, Fayetteville, W.Va.
8. Caperton/Mon River/Deckers Creek Trail, Morgantown, W.Va.
9. Huckleberry Trail, Blacksburg, Va.
10. Allegheny Highlands Trail, Elkins, W.Va.

Shut-In Ridge Trail Run

The classic Southeastern trail run, Shut-In features 17.8 miles of technical singletrack that climbs 3,000 feet on its way to Mount Pisgah.

“Shut-In is one of the toughest trail races in the Southeast. People love it because it’s a test of endurance, agility, and strength. Just completing the Shut-In course is an accomplishment in itself. The race takes place just after the peak of the fall season and offers runners a technically challenging course, while providing great views of fall foliage in the Western North Carolina Mountains.”

—Jane Roane, distance running diva and Shut-In Ridge training coach

2. Springmaid Splash 10K, Spruce Pine, N.C.
3. Rock 2 Rock 10K Trail Run, Black Mountain, N.C.
4. James River Scramble 10K, Richmond, Va.
5. Big South Fork 17-Miler, Oneida, Tenn.
6. New River Gorge-ous Trail Run, Minden, W.Va.
7. Salem Lakes Trail Race, Greensboro, N.C.
8. Mountain Top Half Marathon, Copper Hill, Tenn.
9. Dirty Dog 15K, Charleston, W.Va.
10. Blue Ridge Burn 10K, Charlottesville, Va.

Barkley Marathon

100 miles, 100,000 feet of elevation gain and loss in Frozen Head State Park, Tenn., and only seven finishers since its inception in 1986. Ultra runners love the Barkley because it’s almost impossible to complete.

“I have been running for 32 years (including over 230 marathons and ultramarathons), and the Barkley was easily the most rewarding running experience of all. It has everything that I love in a challenge: roller coaster trails, obstacles to jump over or crawl through, big rocks and high walls to jump off, lots of slick and deep mud, flesh-tearing briers, insanely steep climbs where one cries for mommy, and insanely steep descents where idiots risk breaking their fool necks. Runners spend a lot of time trying to figure out how to find all 11 books hidden along the trail.  Delivering the pages back to the race director at the end of each 20-mile loop is worth any discomfort we might suffer out there.”

—Byron Backer, ultrarunner and 60-mile fun run finisher

2. Mountain Masochist 50-Miler, Va.
3. Mount Mitchell 40-Mile Challenge, Black Mtn., N.C.
4. Stump Jump 50K, Chattanooga, Tenn.
5. Highlands Sky 40-Miler, Canaan Valley, W.Va.
6. Iron Mountain 50-Miler, Damascus, Va.
7. Massanutten Mountain 100-Miler, Massanutten, Va.
8. Bull Run Run 50-Miler, Manassas, Va.
9. Grindstone 100-Miler, Swoope, Va.
10. Uwharrie 40-Mile Trail Run, Troy, N.C.

Richmond Marathon

Scenic course, friendly volunteers, a downhill finish, and junk-food rest stops.

“The course is challenging but fair, and let’s face it, how often do you get to race downhill to the finish line? The race is big enough so you won’t run alone, but small enough that you’re not slowed down by masses of runners. In times of increased entry fees, Richmond offers great value for your money, a quality t-shirt, and one of the best medals you’re likely to receive. And the fantastic crowd support and enthusiastic volunteers keep me motivated throughout the course.”

—Steve Speirs, veteran marathoner

2. Baltimore Marathon, Md.
3. DuPont Forest Trail Marathon, Brevard, N.C.
4. Twisted Ankle Trail Marathon, Summerville, Ga.
5. Rocket City Marathon, Huntsville, Ala.
6. Hatfield McCoy Marathon, Goody, Ky.
7. Outer Banks Marathon, N.C.
8. Georgia Marathon, Atlanta, Ga.
9. Knoxville Marathon, Tenn.
10. Black Mountain Trail Marathon, N.C.

Kennesaw Mountain National Battlefield Park

Just north of Atlanta, Kennesaw Mountain boasts over 18 miles of trails that traverse the surprisingly steep grades of the mountain and its surrounding hills.

“The park offers an oasis of green in the city. It has rolling hills with a mix of pine-hardwood forest and the grassy expanses of the battlefields. Other than around the park headquarters or the major historic sites, there is never a feeling of heavy use, and on weekdays you can run for miles without seeing anyone else. For those looking for some technical trail the section from Burnt Hickory Road to the top of Kennesaw Mountain meets this need.”

—Richard Schick, ultrarunner, Marietta, Ga.

2. Rock Creek Park, D.C.
3. Bull Run/Occoquan Trail, Manassas, Va.
4. Crowders Mountain, Charlotte, N.C.
5. Chattahoochee River NRA, Atlanta, Ga.
6. Buttermilk Trail, Richmond, Va.
7. Carvins Cove, Roanoke, Va.
8. North Ridge Trail, Knoxville, Tenn.
9. McAfee Knob/A.T., Roanoke, Va.
10. Mullens Cove Trail, Chattanooga, Tenn.

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