There are lots of ways to welcome the arrival of spring. Some do it with a thorough house cleaning while others tend to their budding gardens and landscapes. Many head to the nearest river to haul in trout.
Local runners head to Pisgah Brewing Co. for the Black Mountain Greenway Challenge 5K/10K, returning for its 11th year on Saturday, April 7.
The annual event attracts hundreds of runners and raises money for the town's greenway commission, the citizen advisory board which works with local leaders to develop and manage the popular network of trails.
The Greenway Challenge, which takes runners around the town's oldest trail - the Lake Tomahawk Loop - is the biggest annual fundraiser for the board, according to race director and commission member Amy Parker. It also provides an opportunity for people to learn more about the town's five trails, she said.
"It's a chance for runners to familiarize themselves with the greenways a little," she said. "Part of the race itself is on one of the greenways and we always have a booth set up (at Pisgah Brewing) for people to learn more about them."
Parker, who was appointed to the greenway commission in 2014, worked with former race director Becki Janes in recent years. This year she stepped into the role previously held by Janes, whose term on the commission ended in 2017.
"Not a lot is changing with the race," Parker said. "One thing that will be different is that in years past participants had to buy their T-shirts. But this year we're going to include those in the sign-up fee."
Runners who complete the race will receive the traditional free post-race beer and pint glass from the brewery.
Last year the Greenway Challenge, put on by the commission, Pisgah Brewing and the town's recreation and parks department, attracted more than 200 runners, according to Parker.
"We're hoping to add to that total this year," she said. "We decided this year to make the race service dog-friendly, which it hasn't been in the past. We're hoping that will help us draw more veterans, if not this year then hopefully in the future."
Veterans who sign up for this year's Greenway Challenge will also receive a 10 percent discount, Parker said.
This year's race will retain the festive atmosphere that Parker believes has made it so popular since the first race in 2008.
"One of the coolest things about this race is not only that it's at Pisgah, but it's a 2 p.m. start," she said. "That allows people to stay back, hit the food truck, enjoy some beer and even listen to some live music. That's the reason for having that unique start time."
Through registration fees and sponsors, the race raised more than $4,000 in 2017. This year could bring in more money, according to Parker.
"In years past we've reached out to a broad range of sponsors. Some would give money and some would contribute to in-kind donations," she said. "But this year we streamlined that process a little, and we've more than doubled our sponsorship cash this year."
Nearly two dozen businesses, most from the Swannanoa Valley, are sponsoring the upcoming Greenway Challenge, Parker said.
"We're always trying to find ways to bring in more money for the greenways," she said of the commission. "So the support generated by this race every year is a big deal for us."
Last March the commission unveiled an art sculpture along the Riverwalk Greenway, located behind Bi-Lo. The piece was created by local artist Julia C. Burr and titled "Wild Things." The installation was made possible by an anonymous donor who agreed to match $10,000 in donated funds in an effort to bring local art to the trails.
Another sculpture will be unveiled this fall at the Community Garden Trail, which forms a loop around the Dr. John Wilson Community Garden in Veterans Park, according to Parker.
"The local support for the greenways is amazing," she said.
Online registration for the 11th annual Black Mountain Greenway Challenge can be found at runsignup.com. Both races begin at 2 p.m. Registration will remain open until the day of the race.
The fee for the 5K is $30 until March 22, when it increases to $35. The 10K is $35 and increases to $40 on March 22 as well.
Members of the Asheville Track Club get $3 off their registration fee. The event is an official Asheville Track Club Grand Prix race.