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Hit the road, jack, for some great runs this summer

By Tanner Cook • Jun 7, 2019 at 12:58 AM

The temperatures are rising and local runners are hoping to burn up the roads this summer in the Tri-Cities and beyond.

June and July are usually good months to put in a lot of miles and prep for a big fall race, but there are still a lot of quality races on the docket in the hotter months. The following is a brief look at some of the local road races in the area and the running groups.

June 8

Varmint Half Marathon (Burkes Garden, Va.)

The beautiful bowl in the heart of Tazewell County in Southwest Virginia offers some of the best views in a regional race. The course is known for being tough with an incline almost every mile, but the pain is well worth the views.

The drive is a bit of a haul from either Johnson City or Kingsport, but this is a race that you will continue to circle on the calendar once you do it. The race starts promptly at 8 a.m. and cost until race day is $50. Finishers will receive a medal and everyone gets a T-shirt.

June 8

Blue Plum 5K (Johnson City)

For those not wanting to rise before the sun or suffer the pain of the hills in Burkes Garden, the Blue Plum 5K that runs through downtown Johnson City is always a quality event.

The race runs in conjunction with the Blue Plum Festival.

There is also a Little Plum Dash, for children under 12, that begins at 9 a.m. The cost is $25 for both the 5K and kids race.

The race has been conducted in the evenings previous years but has been moved back to an 8 a.m. start. The race is also dog-friendly and will start at the corner of Whitney and Wilson Streets and finish on South Commerce Street behind King Commons Park.

June 15

Covered Bridge 5K (Elizabethton)

The historic Covered Bridge 5K has a new course that still finishes through the landmark but now includes a section of the Tweetsie Trail. The course is already flat and fast, so someone could be looking at a nice race for a new personal best.

Proceeds benefit the Sycamore Shoals Hospital Foundation. Both the 5K and 3K walk begin at 8 a.m.

The cost is $20 for pre-registration until June 7 and $25 until race day.

June 22

Rhododendron 10K (Bakersville, N.C.)

This small-town road race always has a big-time feel with the added bonus of prize money for the top two finishers in the male and female fields. The race will run for the 42nd time this year on the other side of Roan Mountain and is a hidden gem.

Entry fee is $20 pre-registration by June 8 and $30 until race day.

Be wary of the flat and fast first 2 miles because the third and fourth miles climb slightly, though it’s hardly noticeable. The downhill finish back to the elementary school is always welcoming though.

June 29

Achin’ For the Bacon 5K River Run (Erwin)

This race is about as flat as it can get running on the Erwin Linear Trail and beside the Nolichucky River the entire time. If you don’t come for the flat course, come for the bacon and pancake breakfast afterward. The race proceeds will benefit CASA of Northeast Tennessee.

The cost is $25 until June 27 and race day is $30.

July 13

Ballad Health and Niswonger Children’s Hospital Crazy 8s 8K (Kingsport)

As part of Kingsport Fun Fest, the annual crown jewel of local road racing returns with a brand-new flat course. The inclines at “Githuka’s Hill” coming up Wilcox and the infamous 1K pull up Fort Henry Drive after halfway are out. The new but still figure-eight course will almost certainly yield a personal best in the best race of the year.

For those looking for a challenge, run the Almost Crazy 3K an hour before along with the 8K to receive the special “Totally Crazy” medal.

The start is at 8:58 p.m. and cost until July 11 is $25. Race day registration is $30.


The State of Franklin Track Club is staging a series of four summer meets at local high school tracks with free entry fees. The meet hosts a variety of events from the 100-meter dash to the 1-mile run. There are also youth events.

The first and second meets are June 11 and June 18 at David Crockett. The third meet is at Daniel Boone on June 25 and the final meet is July 9 at Dobyns-Bennett.

Registration opens at 6 p.m. with the first events beginning at 6:30 p.m.


The Tri-Cities Trail Runners meet every Tuesday at 5:30 p.m. in the upper parking lot on Southwest Avenue near the East Tennessee State Woods. Runners of all levels are welcome whether a trail newbie or a seasoned veteran.

The Johnson City Group Run meets every Thursday at 5:30 p.m. starting at the lower parking lot of the Wellness Center on Medtech Parkway. The run is usually 5 miles through area neighborhoods.

“Turtles at Tipton” is one of the more popular group runs beginning at the Yee-Haw Brewing Company in downtown Johnson City. The run is usually 4 miles and new members are welcomed with a free 8-ounce beer if desired. The run ends at the Tipton Street Pub. It begins at 6 p.m. every Thursday.

For more information on local road races, running groups or any of the summer track meets, go online at runtricities.org or werunevents.com.

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