Rock the Quarry runners stay high and dry as they outpace Florence

Fred McCormick
Black Mountain News

If their willingness to brave the trails and run to the top of a quarry isn’t enough to convince you of the resiliency of the hundreds of runners who take on the Rock the Quarry each year, then consider perhaps their response to an impending tropical depression.

On Sept. 15, as the remnants of Hurricane Florence made their way west across the state, around 350 runners showed up at Grove Stone & Sand to for the 11th annual Rock the Quarry Trail Challenge 5K and Kids Fun Run. 

A group of runners make their way through the quarry at Grove Stone & Sand on Sept. 15 during the 11th annual Rock the Quarry Trail Challenge 5K and Kids Fun Run. The even raises money for the Black Mountain Home for Children and Asheville Museum of Science.

Events all over Western North Carolina were canceled in anticipation of the arrival of Florence but the race, which benefits neighboring Black Mountain Home for Children and the Asheville Museum of Science, saw an uptick in registrations the night before.  

“We had about 80 people sign up yesterday,” said race director Jon Neumann, who is the vice president for material sales in WNC for Hedrick Industries, the company that owns the quarry. 

Around 350 runners participated in the 11th annual Rock the Quarry Trail Challenge 5K and Kids Fun Run on Sept. 15 as Tropical Depression Florence approached Western North Carolina.

“A lot of stuff had been canceled so people had time at the last minute and wanted to do this race,” added president Joe Lordi, who ran in the race along with Neumann and other employees of the company. 

As eventual winner Duncan Reuning made his way down into the mouth of the Quarry  the first few drops of what would become a fine, steady drizzle began to fall. Hot on Reuning's trail were hundreds of runners who didn't seem to mind the damp weather at all. 

Duncan Reuning, who finished first in the Rock the Quarry Trail Challenge 5K on Sept. 15, makes is way into the mouth of the quarry as a light drizzle begins to fall.

The race takes runners along wooded trails, over roots and creeks, up into the mouth of an active quarry. Once they reach the top, participants run down into the mouth of the quarry and trek along a wide gravel road until they head back into the woods for the final stretch. 

Ruening would take first with a time of 19:41 and Zack Brown, of Asheville, came in less than a minute later at 20:34. 

Third-place overall finisher Derrick Nowak, of Asheville, zips into the quarry on Sept. 15, during the Rock the Quarry Trail Challenge 5K and Kids Fun Run.

The top female finisher, Laura Mitchell, completed the 3.1-mile race in 23:47.5. She was followed closely by Brittany Neumann of Black Mountain, who finished in 24:06.5. 

In total, 234 runners completed the 11th installment of the trail run and 100-plus children participated in the quarter-mile fun run that preceded it, Neumann said. 

The event, which was presented by Hedrick Industries and tractor and equipment company Carolina CAT, has raised over $250,000 for BMH and AMOS over the past five years, according to organizers. 

Last year the race celebrated its biggest year to date with over 350 runners and raising between $60,000 - $70,000. While Neumann hadn't tallied this year's numbers in the minutes before he rain the race, he anticipated they would be similar to 2017. 

"We've been very fortunate to have the community support for Rock the Quarry that we've had all these years," Neumann said. "For us it's a chance to come out here, have a good time and raise money for a couple of organizations that do important work in our community."