State park hosts annual 5k trail run on National Trails Day

Published 8:44 am Monday, June 1, 2015

Contributed Photo/Roan Mountain State Park Racers taking off from the start line in the Roan Mountain State Park Campground.

Contributed Photo/Roan Mountain State Park
Racers taking off from the start line in the Roan Mountain State Park Campground.

Roan Mountain State Park officials expect this year’s 5K race to be another gem.
The park’s fourth annual Diamond Dash Race will be held on Saturday.
“This is the only race that is completely hosted by Roan Mountain State Park,” said Park Ranger Meg Guy.
The first race was held in 2012, which was the 75th anniversary of Tennessee State Parks.
“We started the trail race as part of our celebration of that anniversary, which was the ‘Diamond Jubilee,’” she said. “We got such a positive response to the initial race, that we decided to add it to our annual special events schedule. The original name ‘Diamond Dash’ just stuck around.”
The event also serves as a way to celebrate National Trails Day.
The fact that the race coincides with National Trails Day is a bonus, Guy said.
“What better way to celebrate one’s love of trails than to get out there and challenge yourself on a tough trail course?” she said. “It is a beautiful course.”
The race course is entirely within the park and leads participants through three different park trails.
“It is a 3.5 mile course that begins and ends in the campground, traveling along parts of the Forest Road Trail, the new Angela’s Way bike trail, and the Riverside trail,” Guy said.
While the course has some visual appeal, Guy warns the course is very tough. The first concern she raised was basic.
“Lots of runners spend most of their time on paved roads, so just the difference in surface and running style when on trails can make the run harder,” she said.
However, there are some additional concerns about the steepness of some sections of the trail.
“This is just the nature of the terrain we have here in the mountains,” Guy said. “Some parts of the course are narrow and strewn with rocks and roots. Some parts of the course may be wet and muddy.”
While there are always many negative points to make in most situations, Meg said the race is definitely more for those looking for a challenge.
“I don’t want to discourage anyone from participating if they think they are up to it,” she said. “I just want to be sure folks understand what they are getting themselves into.”
Guy does not recommend the race for beginner runners.
“No runner should be expecting to achieve a personal record on this tough course,” she said.
The race also attracts several volunteers from the community who want to participate in a National Trails Day event without actually running the race, Guy said.
“There will be a shorter, easier nature walk later in the afternoon for trail lovers who aren’t race runners,” she said.
The entry fee is $15 both in advance and day of race. The fee includes a race shirt on a first-come, first-served basis.
“The shirts will be technical, wicking running shirts with both a men’s and a women’s style,” Guy said.
Everyone who participates is expected to receive a finisher’s medal. Those who rank in the top three overall, in both the men’s and women’s categories, will receive a piece of running gear, Guy said.
“We’ve got good running gear, such as handheld water flasks, Under Armour visors and technical Smartwool running socks,” Guy said. “We wanted to award prizes that would be practical and encourage participants to run more, rather than just a trophy that would collect dust on a shelf.”
Runners may register in advance by visiting the RMSP Park Headquarters or by calling 772-0190.

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