Alexander County, NC – Many events in 2020 were postponed or canceled due to the COVID-19 pandemic, although three trail races were held at Rocky Face Mountain Recreational Area while ensuring that safety protocols were in place. This year is on track for more races to be safely held. So far, plans have been made for a very unique event called the “Alexander County 24 Hour.” In addition, the county is already accepting registrations for the Vertical Mile Challenge in June and the Vertical Night Challenge in October. Read all about these events and more, below.

Alexander County 24 Hour
Alexander County will host a 24-hour USATF (USA Track and Field) qualifying race on Saturday, May 1 at 8:00 a.m. The 24-hour event will be run at the Alexander Central High School track. All participants will pay the $125 entry fee. While this event is being organized to assist athletes with a last chance to qualify for the 2021 USATF National Team, the event will be open to athletes of all levels.

The field of competition will be limited to 50 participants. Thirty-eight slots are open for general entry via UltraSignup at https://ultrasignup.com/register.aspx?did=82679. Registration closes at 11:59 p.m. on Wednesday, April 28. Twelve slots will be reserved for athletes wanting to, and capable of, qualifying for the National Team. The reserved slots will be offered to female athletes who have run 115 miles or longer at a fixed time race within the last 18 months and male athletes who have run 130 miles or longer at a fixed time race within the last 18 months.

USATF and all state and local ordinances and orders pertaining to COVID-19 will be followed. Crewing areas will be available at the track edge. Crewing areas will be limited to a 10’ x 10’ area per participant and separated by six feet from the next crewing area.

There will be a basic aid station with water, electrolyte drinks, and basic pre-packaged, single serve/self-serve food. There will be limited hot food consisting of pizza at night, broth, coffee, and soup.

For questions or additional information, visit www.alexandercounty24hour.com, or email Rick French at rfrench@alexandercountync.gov and/or Brandon Wilson at brandon@wilsontiming.com. Keep up-to-date on the Facebook event page at www.bitly.com/ac-24-hour.

Vertical Mile Challenge and Vertical Night Challenge
The 7th Annual Vertical Mile Challenge is set for June 19 at 8:00 a.m., with the 2nd Annual Vertical Night Challenge planned for October 2 at 6:00 p.m. at Rocky Face Mountain Recreational Area. There will be two race distances in both events: a Vertical Mile (8 loops, approximately 16 miles) and a Half-Vertical Mile (4 loops, approximately 8 miles).

Online registration for the Vertical Mile Challenge is available at https://ultrasignup.com/register.aspx?did=82858. Online registration ends at 11:59 p.m. on June 18. There is no race day registration. Shirts will be guaranteed to those who register by June 11th and finish the race. Packet pickup starts on race day at 6:30 a.m.

Online registration for the Vertical Night Challenge is available at https://ultrasignup.com/register.aspx?eid=12184. Online registration ends at 11:59 p.m. on October 1, 2021. There is no race day registration. Shirts will be guaranteed to those who register by September 24th and finish the race. Packet pickup starts on race day at 4:30 p.m.

For either event, registration for the Vertical Mile/Half-Vertical Mile is $35.

All state and local ordinances pertaining to COVID-19 will be followed. Crewing areas will be available along the trail and will be 10 feet apart.

At the base of the mountain, the start/finish line will feature an aid station with water, Gatorade, soft drinks, and salty and sweet snacks. Pickles and pickle juice will also be available.

Runners are encouraged to carry a water bottle. Each loop (8 loops for Vertical Mile and 4 loops for Half-Vertical Mile) will travel the nearly 2-mile loop. After the start/finish line, there is a paved section along the base of the rock face that is the ideal place to bring your drop bag. Some runners bring pop-up tents. Runners then travel about a half-mile on trails to the Stairway to Heaven Trail. This half-mile hill is on an open, very steep rock face. After Stairway, it’s about one mile downhill to the steps and the start/finish line.

Runners who sign up for the Vertical Mile Challenge must do the Vertical Mile. No credit or race time will be provided if you only do half the race. Runners who sign up for the Half-Vertical Mile can only run this distance.

Awards will be given to Overall Male and Female finishers recognizing their accomplishment. Overall Alexander County Male and Female finishers will also be recognized. Additionally, awards will be presented for the Overall Fastest First Lap for Male and Female as well as Alexander County Fastest First Lap Male and Female. Only those who complete 8 loops will be eligible for the Fastest First Lap award.

Awards will also be given in the Half-Vertical Mile Challenge to Overall Male and Female finishers recognizing their accomplishment. Overall Alexander County Male and Female finishers will also be recognized. There are no Fastest First Lap awards in the Half-Vertical Mile races.

Finishers of both the 2021 VMC and VNC (Vertical Night Challenge on Oct. 2) will receive the Vertical Double Buckle. There are no buckles for the Vertical Half-Mile events. Also, five-year finisher awards will be presented.

Robin’s Run 5K and 1-Mile Fun Run
The 10th Annual Robin’s Run 5K and 1-Mile Fun Run, which was postponed a couple of times in 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic, has been postponed again. The popular race is now set for Saturday, November 6 at Matheson Park. The fun run will begin at 8:30, with the 5K starting at 9:00 a.m. This special race is held in memory of Robin Rockett Bowen, who was tragically hit by a car and killed while running on Christmas Eve 2010. Sponsored by the Robin’s Run Foundation, proceeds of this race will be split between church missions and youth athletic scholarships in keeping with Robin’s passion for church and athletics. Online registration will be available in the near future, or you can visit www.robinsrunfoundation.com for more information.

Stay up-to-date with Alexander County events at www.visitalexandernc.com/calendar.