Locals claim top spots in return for race to Grandfather Mountain

Last updated on July 11, 2021 5:41 p.m.

GRANDFATHER MOUNTAIN – During the 26th Annual The Bear, the breathtaking views of Grandfather Mountain took on literal meaning as more than 800 runners climbed 1,568 feet five miles to mark the return of the iconic race, after an interruption due to COVID -19.

Still, finisher Josh Izewski appeared to breathe easy shortly after finishing the effort with a time of 31: 50.7.

“It’s a great race,” said Izewski. “It’s great that they were able to put it on. They do a great job and I am delighted to be able to come here.

Izewski, a professional runner who lives in Blowing Rock, carried on the tradition of endurance athletes with ZAP Fitness finishing the race among the top competitors. Izewski said it was the first time he had run The Bear and had trained for the steep slope of the mountain by trekking up the hills to Moses Cone Manor at Bass Lake just ten and a half miles away. .

“We’re used to climbing, but it’s always different when you’re here racing than when you’re training,” said Izewski.

Izewski noted that this was his first time running the race after competing as a spectator in years past, but for Amanda Sorrow, who won first place in the female category with a time of 40:58 , 2, the dramatic slope of the mountain seemed a little more familiar. .

“I’ve been running (The Bear) since 1999, just a few years away,” Sorrow said.

Local Banner Elk resident Sorrow said the iconic mountain scenery, the challenge of running and the festive atmosphere surrounding the Highland Games bring her back year after year.

Second in the men’s category, Sandy Roberts of Raleigh, North Carolina, also highlighted the Games by recalling his love for racing which marks the start of the annual gathering of Scottish clans and societies.

“This is my favorite race, hands down,” said Roberts. “It’s a challenge, and halfway through you walk through the Highland Games crowd and hear the bagpipes. That’s why I’m coming. It still makes my heart beat faster. “

Runners also commented on the day’s weather, which provided a dramatic end to the athletes after a disheartening forecast of heavy rains and thunderstorms that dissipated just two hours before they left the start line at Linville, providing a scenic setting as they made their way to MacRae. Meadows under sunny skies.

However, rain clouds returned and gently sprayed the runners as they climbed the series of steep switchbacks to the top.

Wake Forest University track athlete Caroline Garrett of Oakland, Calif., Who finished second in the women’s category with a time of 41: 19.2, said the cool weather relieved the passage of the finish line under the Mile High Swing Bridge.

“The wind at the finish was a bit strong,” she said. “It was a bit humid. It was a tough race. I consider this to be my hill training for the week without a doubt.

Garrett, who first ran the race in 2019, shared a general sense of excitement among the multitude of runners after triumphantly reaching the top after a year in which the event was completely canceled.

The feeling of gratitude and accomplishment certainly did not escape race organizer Jim Deni.

“It was phenomenal,” Deni said. “Everyone was excited. The runners were excited just to be able to do it. (The race) was packed.

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