Of the seemingly endless list of things that make Western North Carolina a year-round playground for visitors and residents alike, craft beer, mountain trails and fall colors are near the top.
One Black Mountain race, which is returning for its third year on Saturday, Oct. 20, combines all of those things.
Lookout to Lookout to Lookout is a 10-mile trail race that starts in the heart of Black Mountain at Lookout Brewing Co. From there, around 200 runners will head north to the peak of the Montreat mountain from which the brewery takes its name. After a quick view of the fall colors below from 3,760 feet above, runners will head back down the mountain for a finish at the brewery.
Mike Guyer is the owner of Relentless Running Events, which organizes Lookout to Lookout to Lookout, as well as annual endurance race the Black Mountain Monster and others. The relationship between local runners and the brewery formed the foundation for the idea of the event, he said.
"This has always been our go-to spot after our group runs," Guyer said as runners finish their weekly Sunday run that starts and ends at Lookout Brewing Co. "Most of the people who are part of the local running community like to come here and have a beer when we're done."
In fact, that's exactly how the race, which has grown every year since it debuted in 2016, came to be.
"Actually, a few of us were sitting here drinking beer one day when the idea came to us," he said. "It seemed like a fun thing to do."
October was the perfect time to hold the race, according to Guyer.
"It's such a unique race," he said. "Part of it is a road race and part of it is a mountain race and combining that's aspects makes it really cool."
The view of the fall colors from high above the Swannanoa Valley is also part of the draw, said Guyer's wife Kaitlyn, who is the volunteer coordinator for the event.
"The timing of the race helps make it popular," Kaitlyn said. "The view from Lookout is spectacular, and that's really the case any time of year."
Kaitlyn, who like Mike is heavily involved with the local running community, said the race attracted 125 runners the first year and how grown in popularity since. It also led to the formation of the Lookout Brewing Running Club, which meets at the brewery every Sunday at noon for a group run.
Mike keeps a running total of the miles each runner puts in each week. Ten members met on Sept. 16 to run as Tropical Depression Florence was bearing down on Black Mountain.
"It's a dedicated group," Mike said.
Many of the members of the group will participate in this year's Lookout to Lookout to Lookout. When the race is over they'll do what they do every Sunday when they finish running.
"They'll finish right here," Mike said point to the parking lot. "Then everyone will grab a beer and have a good time."
Looking to run the Lookout to Lookout to Lookout?
When: Saturday, Oct. 20, 10 a.m.
Where: Lookout Brewing Co, 103 South Ridgeway Avenue
Registration: $45 per person and available at ultrasignup.com while opening are available