Agents Answer: What are the Best Local Running Events in WNC?

We asked our agents: What are the best annual running events in WNC?
AVL Runway5K | Photo by the Gamble Team

Did you know that one of the reasons for Asheville’s early growth was the quality of air across the Blue Ridge Mountains? This spring, take in big inhales of our cool mountain air as you pad through one of the region’s many running events.

Are you ready to meet those new year’s goals? Would you prefer a solo marathon or a family-friendly sprint? With so many running events across Western North Carolina throughout the year, it can be hard to know where to place your starting line.

Luckily, our agents are experts in more than just the local housing market. We asked our running stars: What are the best annual running events in WNC?

If you are looking for a scenic route with a challenging hill or two, give the annual Biltmore/Kiwanis 15K (May 21, 2023) a try. Enjoy the beautiful grounds of the Biltmore Estate during the run, and be sure to take your photo in front of the house. They also offer a 5K option. A great race at a beautiful place! Sign up soon—space is limited.

Billie Green

Isaac Dickson Elementary’s Hot Chocolate 10K in January is a hugely popular race and an incredible fundraiser for this state-of-the-art, LEED-certified elementary school, right by downtown Asheville in the Montford neighborhood. Last year’s race raised more than $20,000 for the school!

Glenn Haden

In spring, I enjoy running the Gateway to the Smokies Half Marathon (April 1, 2023). It is put on by the Waynesville Chamber of Commerce every May. The course weaves through the Waynesville downtown area and then out through the countryside of Plott Creek. I enjoy seeing many friends from the community as participants, and there are always familiar faces to cheer on the runners, as well. It’s a relatively easy run with few hills. They also have a four miler race if one prefers the shorter distance. This year, my daughter and I will run it together. 

Amanda Hill

My family likes to participate in the Mighty Four Miler here in Waynesville. It is held in honor of hero Riley Howell of Haywood County. On April 30, 2019, Riley Howell was in class at UNC Charlotte. Seven minutes in, shots rang out, and in a split-second decision, Riley chose to fight. He would not live to know that his actions saved others. This race supports the Riley Howell Foundation Fund that supports families who have lost loved ones due to gun violence. This is a well-done four-mile race by Glory Hound Events that starts in downtown Waynesville. It also coincides with the Gateway to the Smokies half marathon for those who want more mileage!  This year the event is on April 1st.

Ben Hill

Brevard has several fun race events each year. In March, Oskar Blues Brewery hosts a four miler. It’s a benefit for the Cindy Platt Boys & Girls Club of Transylvania County. It begins and ends at the brewery with live music, beer (of course), the food truck, and games for the kids. The Rotary Club of Brevard also hosts the Flight of the Vampire Race (October 28, 2023) at Halloween, complete with costumes! Transylvania County certainly knows how to celebrate Halloween!

Nancy Witek

The Friends of the Lake 5K Road Race & Walk (April 8, 2023) is a charitable event to support the recreation opportunities of Lake Junaluska. Proceeds make sure Lake Junaluska continues to be a beloved place where the community can enjoy the walking trail, gardens, and breathtaking vistas.

Michelle McElroy

My family and I have always enjoyed going to the NC Apple Festival, held in Hendersonville each year. The festival offers kid activities and rides, music, arts and crafts, a parade, and best of all, the different kinds of food, which are amazing! There are a lot of vendors that come from other states to bring their local flavors. Many of the local apple farms come during that time and bring apple donuts, fritters, pies, and apple juice. Most of the shops on Main Street open up and run sales, too. In 2022, the event hosted an Individual 8K run, a four-person Team Challenge 5K, and the Chick-fil-A Mini Moo One Mile fun run. The Apple Festival is something our family looks forward to every year and we think it is hands down one of the best annual events to visit each year. 

Christy Dills

Western North Carolina has some really great opportunities for runners of all ages and experience levels! Our family has recently begun training together since our 4th grade daughter has a goal to run cross country. One race to highlight is the AVL Runway5K in the fall—which takes place on the runway at Asheville Regional Airport! Not only is it the only completely flat course in WNC, but the backdrop is pretty cool, with airplanes departing and arriving nearby during the event. We also look forward to the return (after three years) of the Biltmore/Kiwanis Classic 5K/15K on the property of the historic Biltmore Estate on May 21, 2023!

Brent and Lisa Gamble, The Gamble Team

The Biltmore/Kiwanis Classic 5K/15K is one of the best running events in WNC. It’s been on a three-year hiatus, but starts up again in May 2023. Not only do you get to enjoy the outdoors, you also get to enjoy the beautiful grounds and views surrounding the Biltmore Estate, one of the main attractions in Asheville.  

Karen Bosse

Every April, the Junior League of Asheville hosts a 5K called Be The Change Challenge. All of the proceeds go towards a grant that is awarded to a local nonprofit. This year, the event will be held on Saturday April 15, beginning and ending at Pleb Winery in the River Arts District of Asheville.

Meaghan Austin

I live in Sylva, and many people are moving even more west than Waynesville to these small bedroom communities. Greening Up The Mountains is a festival on the fourth Saturday of April every year that features incredibly talented people from Western North Carolina and beyond, as well as its own 5K race. You can experience delicious food and drink while listening to grassroots musicians. Also, the festival exhibits a unique variety of vendors, ranging from woodworkers, painters, and potters to jewelry makers and more. It is a blast for all ages—all are welcome! 

Marti Walker

Amanda Hill at the Waynesville Mighty Four Miler | Photo from Ben Hill

Run toward Your Dream Home! 

Among the many ways we Live Abundantly in WNC is by organizing some of the most fun and beneficial events around. Find a home near one of the great annual running events mentioned in this post!

What’s your favorite annual running event in WNC? Let us know in the comments.

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