By Luke Paulson

Just two weeks after the relay and some are still giving their bodies time to recover. Not only is the ~210 mile event a strain on the legs, it also leaves many in a sleep-deprived state for a week following. The sleep deprivation comes from running (or riding in a van when not running) throughout the day on Friday, through the night, and through the morning on Saturday. The Blue Ridge Relay, for those that are unfamiliar, is an annual foot race that takes runners all the way from the top of Grayson Highlands State Park in Southwest Virginia to Asheville, North Carolina. The majority of the ~190 teams utilize the maximum number of runners allowed per team of 12, though some “mileage junkies” utilize as few as four runners to cover the distance. Adding to the difficulty is the >16,000 feet worth of uphill (plus >19,000 feet downhill) that each team must cover. 

Jus’ Running and Norm’s Maggots, the store’s running club, have a long tradition of fielding a number of teams each year, often finishing in the top of their respective divisions. 2019 was no exception, with three Jus’ Running teams, plus a number of other teams featuring several Jus’ Running Race Team members. Norm’s Maggots Ultra Team was held together with some of Jus’ Running Race Team’s most veteran active members, Matt Roane, Anne Wheatly, Kurt Wilson, Andy Brouwer, and Craig Plunkard. Their sixth runner had to drop out just several hours before race start, forcing the team to complete all 210 miles with just five runners. 26 hours and seven minutes and they were the third fastest “Ultra” team to finish. 

Placing first in the Women’s Ultra division and crushing the previous course record with a time of 27:03 was six-person team Ladies Regerts. Operating out of their intimidating black Sprinter van, team Lady Regerts featured some of Jus’ Running’s quickest women, Cristyn Olenick, Emily Fagan, Kimzey Ellis, Jennifer Black, Carrie Jensen, and Erin Dalton. Finishing second among all-female Ultra teams was Jus’ Running’s other all-female team Legs Miserables (30:09), featuring Amanda Fox, Kelsey Hangar, Erin Day, Hayley Hucks, Rachel Veale (store employee) and Maggie DeLap. 

It wasn’t all about the ladies though. Two of Jus’ Running’s fastest men traded their Jus’ Running kit for their Asheville Running Collective counterpart, racing with the coveted and highly-competitive Asheville Running Collective Open team. Devin Deholl and Luke Paulson joined 10 other Asheville area runners to finish first Overall and, arguably more importantly, out run the next closest team (longtime rival Charlotte Running Club) by over 25 minutes with a time of 19:32. Devin and Luke were joined by Mike Zeberkiewicz, Mark Driscoll, Javan Lapp, Caleb Masland, Alex Griggs, Michael Holland, Brian Skoglind, Jacob Montgomery, Derek Gibson, Ethan Coffey, and drivers Dane Cox and Frankie Adkins. 

Finally, Jus’ Running’s Ginna Reid, Mikey Riley, Cristopher Murrey, and Beach Hensley joined Lilly Smith, Tilda Helgesson Norris, Eliza Parker, Kelly Montague, Ashley Eville, Matthew Hammersmith, Brandon Smith, and Jerad Crave to form Asheville Running Collective’s Mixed team. With competition from Charlotte Running Club’s Mixed team “Stachefo”, Durham’s Bull City Master’s team, and an Open team of ex-Harvard University runners (“Frank’s Old Boys”), the ARC Mixed team placed second among other Mixed teams, good for sixth overall!

Congratulations to all the runners who participated in Blue Ridge Relay 2019, and a big THANKS to all the volunteers. Also thanks to our race team sponsors for all their support: Home Matters, Victor G. Dostrow MD, Jodie Smith, Mr. MVM Construction, and Waynesville Cross Country. 

We are now entering my favorite time of year for running in western North Carolina – the fall. I welcome this time of year with open arms. Graced with crisp cool mornings and mild daytime temperatures, the fall in North Carolina is near ideal for getting out the door and running. Leaves begin to fall and grace the sky with picturesque beauty, as time simultaneously seems to slow down. For us at Jus’ Running, the coming of fall also means it is time for two of our favorite footraces: the Shut-In Ridge Trail Run, now celebrating its 40th year, and the Asheville Turkey Trot 5k and Gobble Wobble! Haven’t registered for Turkey Trot yet? Register HERE!