published Thursday, April 10th, 2014

Salomon Rock/Creek Trail Series seeks runners

Local runner John Wiygul makes his way through the Scenic City Trail Marathon course last May on Raccoon Mountain. The race is April 26 this year.
Rock/Creek Photo by Mark McKnight
Local runner John Wiygul makes his way through the Scenic City Trail Marathon course last May on Raccoon Mountain. The race is April 26 this year. Rock/Creek Photo by Mark McKnight

The new giant jewel for May in the Salomon Rock/Creek Trail Series sold out in two days when registration opened in mid-January, but earlier races in the series have not been filling as fast as usual.

The 10.2- and 6.5-mile River Gorge races last month had the rarity of registration being extended until race morning, and the Scenic City Trail Marathon and Half Marathon are only about halfway to their maximum with nine days to go before online registration is supposed to close.

The marathon and half marathon were moved up several weeks from the past, however, to make room for the May 15-16 Thunder Rock 100 from the Ocoee Whitewater Center in the Cherokee National Forest. The 26.2- and 13.1-mile races will go off at 8 a.m. on April 26 on Raccoon Mountain, and about 300 registrations have been accepted.

"We'll close it if we get to 600," Rock/Creek marketing director Mark McKnight said Wednesday. "We don't necessarily want 600, but we had that many enter last year even though only about 400 actually showed up for the two races."

No-shows are something series officials are starting to track this year, and McKnight admitted he's curious about how many of the 200 who signed up quickly for the Thunder Rock will turn out. A bunch of those, however, are hardened ultra runners from across the nation.

"One guy who's coming is Roch Horton, who works for (ski and climbing gear manufacturer) Black Diamond in Salt Lake City," McKnight said. "He's a pretty well-known 100-miler, and he's excited about coming because we've never had anything long enough for him before."

McKnight has a theory that the area's unusually severe winter has had a limiting effect on early-season outdoors competitions.

"We've been down across the board in our earlier races, and I talked with someone from the bike club and their 3 State 3 Mountain numbers are not as high as usual," he said. "I think maybe because of the winter we had, people are just now getting cranked up with their training."

The entry fee for the Scenic City Trail Marathon is $85, or $75 for someone who doesn't care to get a race shirt, and the Half Marathon fee is $70 (or $60). Race packets for entrants will be available from 4 to 7 p.m. on April 25 at Rock/Creek Paddlesports on Riverside Drive or at the Laurel Point area of TVA's Raccoon Mountain property from 6:30 to 7:30 a.m. that Saturday.

Even if online registration is extended past the current time of noon on April 19, there will be no race-day sign-ups. There's still plenty of room on the path, but interested distance runners shouldn't wait too long to make their moves.

Contact Ron Bush at rbush@timesfreepress.com or 423-757-6291.

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