Several races in the area keep the Swannanoa Valley on the run

Tom Flynn
Special to Black Mountain News
Vertical Runner Black Mountain owner Shaun Pope addresses runners of the Throwing Bones 5K, at the Montreat College Black Mountain campus, on March 9.

Over 100 runners showed up at the Montreat College Black Mountain campus on March 9, for the second annual Throwing Bones 5K. 

The race supports Throwing Bones For a Cure, Inc., a nonprofit founded by Black Mountain’s Kenny Capps, who was disagnosed with multiple myeloma in 2015.

Capps’ organization works to raise awareness about the disease, a blood cancer that often impacts the bones of those fighting it. It also works to encourage those fighting the cancer to be physically active.

Multiple myeloma, according to the American Cancer Society, is diagnosed in over 32,000 people each year and claims the lives of nearly 13,000 annually.

Capps trekked the Mountains-to-Sea Trail, from the coast to Clingman’s Dome, in 2018 to launch his nonprofit and completed this year’s Mount Mitchell Challenge before performing in “Dancing with the Local Stars of Asheville” in the Diana Wortham Theatre the following evening.

He did not run the Throwing Bones 5K, but he was there to greet those who faced the cold, wet weather to do be there.

The trails through the wooded area of the campus, a the site of an historic estate, made up the course. Much of the low-lying trails were muddy from recent rain. Many runners finished the race caked in mud.

Todd Burkhalter of Asheville won this year’s Throwing Bones 5K, with a time of 20:43. Black Mountain’s Kristi Confortin was the top female finisher, in 24:32.

Kenny Capps stands in front of the runners who showed up to the Montreat College Black Mountain campus on March 9, to participate in the Throwing Bones 5K. The event, in its second year, raises money for Capps' nonprofit organization Throwing Bones For a Cure, which encourages people battling multiple myeloma to be physically active.

The race was one of several recent, or upcoming running events in the area as the season begins to get underway.

Asheville's Luke Paulson, 26, captured the 2019 Mount Mitchell Challenge with a time of 4:29.00. The top finisher from Black Mountain was Doug Hay, 33, who placed 54th overall with a 6:51.52.

Next in from Black Mountain was Bill Flanagan, 50, who regularly runs with "the  Posse" based out of downtown's Vertical Runner Black Mountain.

Charlotte's Amanda Morris, 33, was the top overall women's finisher. Just seven minutes behind was Aliza LaPierre of Williston, Vermont.

Keith Harris, 36, of Cincinnati, Ohio captured the Black Mountain Marathon with a time of 3:23.23, 16 minutes ahead of second-place finisher Joel Meredith, 44, of Nashville, Tennessee. Asheville's David Chandler came in third and was the top regional finisher with a time of 3:47.51.

Just over a minute behind was the women's race winner, Cynthia Arnold. Arnold, 35, hails from Polson, Montana. Joseph Franks, 36, from Swannanoa was the Valley's top finisher and came in 11th in the marathon. Consuela Lively, 47, of Black Mountain had an excellent showing and finished 61st in the field of 244 finishers.

Sam Moore makes a turn after running uphill in the Throwing Bones 5K, which was held at the Montreat College Black Mountain campus on March 9.

With the gradual departure of winter in upcoming weeks, races will again begin to heavily populate the area's running calendar. This weekend, the Asheville Marathon and Half-Marathon are being held on the grounds of the Biltmore Estate. As of last Friday, there were 100+ spots open in both Sunday's marathon, set for Sunday, March 17, and both segments of the half-marathon, which takes place on March 16 and 17. Both races are a combination of flats along the French Broad River and rolling hills on the estate grounds.

Nearer at hand, the 12th annual Black Mountain Greenway Challenge 5K & 10K is set for Saturday, April 6 and kicks off from the Pisgah Brewing Company at 2 p.m. The course includes Lake Tomahawk and extends into the North Fork Valley. It also traverses the Black Mountain Neuro-Medical Treatment Center.

The race helps raise funds for the greenway system that winds through Black Mountain.

Next month, the third annual Britten Strong Race to Recovery 5K will begin at the Montreat College Black Mountain Campus on April 28. It's slated for a 1:30 p.m. start. The race helps raise funds for medical expenses for Britten Olinger, the Montreat College track coach who was seriously injured in a car crash on State Street in downtown Black Mountain in early 2017 and continues as an active member of the team staff.

Asheville's Luke Paulson, who won the Mount Mitchell Marathon, arrives first to the Blue Ridge Parkway on Feb. 23. With the Challenge and Black Mountain Marathon in the books, several races are right around the corner.

Depending on the weather and conditions leading up to the race, the course will begin at the college track and head back toward Montreat's cross country course. Black Mountain's picturesque Oaks Trail that runs just south of the campus also comprises a leg of the race.

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