Eighty Teams Set For Blue Ridge Relay

07/02/2008 - 14:24


By Kristin Sevensky
“Wow, and We Thought the Blue Ridge Relay Couldn’t Get Any Better!”

That’s a quote from director Ken Sevensky excited about the eighty teams that will be running in the 4th annual Blue Ridge Relay this September 5th and 6th. The Blue Ridge Relay, which started in 2006 with a field of 10 runners, will bring close to 1,000 runners up to the High country the Friday after Labor Day. The Blue Ridge Relay is a 208 mile team running relay, and “ one of the longest running relay races in the United States and one of the newest and most creative mountain sports events in the Southern region” - Blue Ridge Outdoors Magazine.

Blue Ridge Outdoors Magazine also calls the Blue Ridge Relay “one of the most popular and inevitably longstanding events in the region and beyond.” The Blue Ridge Relay is a local event that attracts runners from all over the Southeast. Probably one-third of the runners are from much farther away than the Southeast – some even coming from other countries. It is a 208 mile team running relay (teams consist of 6 – 12 runners who will rotate through 36 segments of the course) that follows scenic, country roads as it winds its way through North Carolina’s High Country to the finish in Asheville. The course features some of the region’s most spectacular scenery including the balds of Grayson Highlands State Park, the New River, the Blue Ridge Parkway, Grandfather Mountain (5964’), and Mount Mitchell (6684’), the highest peak east of the Mississippi River. The run has a total elevation change of over 26,000 feet with 12,000 feet of gain and 14,000 feet of descent. The route goes from Virginia, through the Jeffersons, to Boone, Blowing Rock, Linville, Newland, and winds it’s way down to Bakersville, Burnsville and Barnardsville finally ending up in downtown Asheville.

100_3166.jpgThere are 6 categories of runners: open, mixed open, ultra, masters and women’s. “We have been amazed at the number of teams that are coming back to run the Blue Ridge Relay year after year. The open category record holders, with a time of approximately 23 hours, Team Norm’s Maggots of Asheville – sponsored by local running store Jus’ Running, have run every year of the event! We love everyone’s enthusiasm and dedication to this amazing and unique event. We’re also thrilled this year to be hosting a large number of ultra teams, meaning they have 6 or fewer runners per team. This is going to be an interesting year to watch!” – says Ken Sevensky, Blue Ridge Relay race director and High Country business owner of Gum Ridge Mill & Flying Pig Furniture.

The organizers of the Blue Ridge Relay were excited this year to be one of seven races in the country, which are partnered with the Avon Foundation and their Need for Speed Campaign Against Domestic Violence. This is actually the second year they have been partnered with the Avon Foundation (their other event The Black & Blue – a double century cycling relay which takes place in July, is also one of the seven national relays partnered with the Avon Foundation) As a Need for Speed Fundraiser, the Blue Ridge Relay and its runners have the opportunity to raise funds and awareness for children who are victims or witnesses of domestic violence. Over $6700 was raised by teams, sponsors, and race organizers in 2007. “We are proud to be working with local domestic abuse agencies A Safe Home for Everyone (A.S.H.E.) in Ashe County and OASIS in Watauga County. They are wonderful organizations and their staff is even volunteering during our events. They’ve been great” says Kristin Sevensky, co-director of the Blue Ridge Relay.

“We have amazing sponsors for this year’s Blue Ridge Relay, most of which also help sponsor The Black & Blue” says Ken. “Obviously, Gum Ridge Mill is very dedicated to these events and causes, however, local and national companies, Mizuno, Hometrust Bank of Asheville, Mellow Mushroom, Stick Boy Bread Company, Dan’l Boone Inn and Restaurant, Stick Boy Bread Company, SweeTea, Road I.D., Hometown Realty, Furman University’s F.I.R.S.T. institute of running, Ashe County Parks and Recreation, Ashe County Arts Council and Grayson Highlands State Park are also playing a huge role. Although these runners don’t run the Blue Ridge Relay for the food or prizes – they are both great.”
“We also have special help from Appalachian State University’s Department of Health, Leisure and Exercise Science whose students help us fill a majority of the exchange zones during those hard night time hours where volunteers are scarce,” Ken says.

“We not only have students that step and help out but several community groups such as the Green Valley Fire Department near Newland and the Pensacola Community near Burnsville and Ox Creek Community Center just north of Asheville provide either personnel, or sandwiches or even a hot pancake breakfast at 4am in the morning for our runners. It’s fantastic,” Kristin says.

The Blue Ridge Relay, runners, and teams are grateful for the support from your community, for your hospitality, for encouraging the runners, and for being courteous while driving. The Relay received generous support, time, and lack of sleep from our volunteers who served as Race Officials, including the many community groups, businesses, friends, and students.

The Blue Ridge Relay is grateful for the support received from Gum Ridge Mill & Flying Pig Furniture, Grayson Highlands State Park, Virginia, Hometrust Bank of Asheville NC, Mellow Mushroom of Asheville, NC, The Avon Foundation Need for Speed Campaign, Dan’l Boone Inn and Restaurant, SweeTea, Stickboy Bread Company, Hometown Realty, Power Bar, Omega Tees, Ashe County Parks and Recreation, The Blue Ridge Parkway, Road ID, Ashe County Arts Council, and the students of the Appalachian State University Health and Exercise Department..

The runners for the Blue Ridge Relay will begin gathering before the event on Thursday night at local restaurant The Riverside General Store for a home cooked pasta dinner and a beautiful view of the New River and then will spread out into all of the High Country’s hotel rooms or campgrounds until the 6:45 am start the next morning.

For additional information about the Blue Ridge Relay visit or call 336.877.8888. If you would like to donate to the Avon Foundation’s Need for Speed Campaign or assist at one of the exchange zones along the 208 mile course, please contact either Ken or Kristin Sevensky at the above website or phone number.

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