Cover photo from gloryhoundevents
The Highland Night Flight, one of Asheville’s most popular mid summer races returned after a year off with over 400 runners lining up at the start line across from the entrance to the brewery. A series of severe thunderstorms rolled through the area in the hours leading up to the race, bringing torrential rains, street flooding and a wet warm up for those racing. The severe weather brought cooler temps for the typically hot and humid race and a number of Jus’ Running Racing Team members were ready to go when the horn sounded at 7:30pm.
Leading the way on the 4.5 mile hilly course, from start to finish, was Luke Paulson, who set a blistering pace on the downhill start and had opened up a 30 yard lead before reaching the 1 mile mark. Luke was followed by Kip Otterness and a small pack of elite runners including perennial favorite Joe Ainsworth. Just behind this group was Kimzey Ellis, Jennifer Black and Rachel Veale. After the steep downhill start, the course winds its way around the Asheville Municipal Golf Course and the Beverly Hills community. The “hills” in Beverly Hills begin around the 1 mile mark and continue for almost the next mile before plateauing out with some minor ups and downs through 2.7 before descending back to Swannanoa River Road. At 3.5 the course returns to an uphill section on Gashes Creek Road before leveling off around 4.3 and finishing through the back gate at Highland Brewery. This is not a particularly easy course to run a really fast time…….unless you are Luke Paulson, who finished 1st overall in 23:53 (5:19 pace). This is the fastest time (by 36 seconds) on the 4.5 mile course since it was lengthened from 4 miles in 2016. Otterness finished 2nd overall in 25:53, which would have won this race in 3 of the last 4 years and Joe Ainsworth, the 2018 overall winner, placed 8th overall in 28:08 and 1st in the 30-34 AG. The Jus’ Running ladies swept the overall female podium with Jennifer Black placing 15th in 30:31, Kimzey Ellis 17th in 31:20 and Rachel Veale 20th in 32:12. Zach Benton completed the run in 76th overall with a respectable time of 37:31.
While the weather may have dampened the normal crowd size, the event, which raises $$ for the Asheville Greenway was another great success managed by Greg Duff and his Glory Hound Events Production Crew, many volunteers and the Highland Brewery staff. Until next year…..Cheers!!
By Jus’ Running Race Team member Kevin Fitzgerald
Race photos credit to Paul King.