published Thursday, January 27th, 2011

Rock/Creek races varied

  • photo
    Photo by Andrew Kornylak
    Trail runners run past the Indian Rock House in the Prentice Cooper State Forest.
    Contributed Photo

The Rock/Creek Trail Series of races has included 7,421 runners covering 128,752 miles of area pathways since the first StumpJump 50k was held.

That's according to series director Jonathan Mobley, also the executive director of Wild Trails, a nonprofit access-and-maintenance organization that benefits from StumpJump proceeds.

This will be the 10th anniversary of the trail series' signature event, and a big deal is planned for it, but that 50-kilometer and 11-mile set of races is not until Oct. 1. The other decadelong event sponsored by the Chattanooga-based outdoors retailer, the Rock/Creek River Gorge Trail Race, is set for March 26.

But the first event in the series this year is just over three weeks away -- the Southern 6 on Feb. 20 on the Biology Trail at Southern Adventist University in Collegedale -- and registration for the entire series was opened this week. The only exception is the Upchuck 50k on the Cumberland Trail past Possum Creek on Nov. 12; its signup details are still being finalized.

The Rock/Creek series has 10 race dates in all, counting three in a row for the Chattanooga Mountains Stage Race in June, with 15 distance options. The Stage Race includes a 20-mile race on Lookout Mountain, an 18-miler on Raccoon Mountain and a 22-miler on Signal Mountain.

The River Gorge race covers the Mullins Cove Loop in the Prentice Cooper Wildlife Management Area, and it has 10.2- and 6.5-mile options. The Greenway 5 Mile Trail Race on Aug. 6 takes place at Greenway Farm in Hixson.

"Trail running has reached new heights in Chattanooga, making our city a destination location for the sport," said Rachel Tucker, who handles Rock/Creek media and public relations. "Our races showcase this area's natural beauty and incredible trail systems."

As Tucker pointed out, races ranging from the 6 kilometers at Southern Adventist to 50 miles on Lookout Mountain on Dec. 17 "will take you along breathtaking river-gorge vistas, through awe-inspiring rock gardens and beside beautiful mountain streams."

It all started, Tucker said, with a Colorado couple, Randy and Kris Whorton, talking with their friend Dawson Wheeler -- co-owner of Rock/Creek -- about getting people together to experience the varied trails around Chattanooga. From the initial StumpJump, the idea took off.

Rock/Creek was SNEWS & Backpacker Magazine's online retailer of the year for 2009.

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