RACE ROUTE PHOTOS
The TrailBlazer Challenge 13-Mile Backcountry Race will begin at the Boys & Girls club and end at the Big South Fork Airpark Stables near the Big South Fork National River & Recreation Area. The first five miles are paved to gravel, transitioning to dirt road for the next six miles along the Big South Fork River. After crossing the O&W Bridge (out-and-back), the route returns to O&W Rd. and the O&W Trailhead. Proceed down the trail to the finish at Leatherwood Ford. Transportation back to the Boys & Girls Club will be provided.
• Start time: 2:00 P.M. Sunday, Oct. 8, 2017
• Aid stations: Located at (roughly) 1, 3, 5, 7, 9 and 11 miles.
• Course closes: 6:00 p.m.
• Registration fee: $40. All runners who pre-register receive a TrailBlazer Triple Challenge shirt and gift bag. Day of race registration is available, shirts and gift bag available while supplies last. Mail-in and online entries must be received no later than Oct. 21, 2016 to guarantee an event shirt and gift bag. Runners can register for all three races for $80 (save $10). Register now.
• Sunday picnic: All runners, family and supporters are invited to a family picnic at the Boys & Girls Club immediately after the Backcountry Race on Sunday, Oct. 18. Extra meal tickets: $5.
• Results: Race results will be posted on trailblazerchallenge.com.
• Awards: Top 3 male and female overall. Top 3 male and female in each age division. Overall winners are not eligible for age division awards. Age divisions are grouped in 5-year increments starting with 19 and under.
• Course etiquette: We reserve the right to disqualify anyone who exhibits unsportsmanlike conduct or is abusive to volunteers. Due to insurance regulations, no bicycles, baby strollers, roller blades or pets will be permitted on the course.
• Safety: Aid and water stations will be provided. But in an effort to be greener, we recommend all runners carry their own water. If you don’t own a handheld water bottle, consider purchasing one. A basic water bottle will be provided in all runners’ gift bags the day of the race. We also strongly recommend that anyone sensitive to insect stings or bites carry their own medication. Finally, we urge that everyone do some pre-race training off-road, as there is no substitute for experience. We want you to have a good time.
Mile 0.7 – The O&W
At Mile 0.7, Verdun Road reaches what was once the Oneida & Western Railroad Line from Oneida to Jamestown. The railroad linked these two northern Cumberland Plateau towns and the miles of rugged country between them that was rich with coal and timber. Today, O&W Road starts as a paved, two-lane road and eventually becomes a gravel road and then a dirt road as it continues towards the Big South Fork River. In the early 20th Century, however, things were different. The O&W extended 37 miles through the rugged countryside. Along the way, it passed communities with names like Potter, Speck, Gernt and Zenith — communities that no longer exist and have been reclaimed by wilderness. (Interesting fact: the O&W was headquartered in a two-story building in Oneida. That building still stands. It’s known locally as the Kline Building and houses the veterinarian practice of Dr. Elizabeth Kline Burress, who serves as president of the Boys & Girls Clubs of the Cumberland Plateau Board of Directors. Photo.)
Mile 4.5 – Air Park Stables
These “backcountry stables” may appear to be miles from nowhere, but don’t be fooled by appearance! Air Park Stables actually serves as equine boarding for the Big South Fork Air Park, an upscale development at the Scott County Airport. As the crow flies, the airport is less than a mile away at the top of the mountain. And it’s the largest rural airport on the northern Cumberland Plateau, with the ability to handle everything from single-engine aircraft to corporate jets. Air Park Stables is also the last structure remaining along the O&W route. The boundary to the Big South Fork NRRA is just ahead.
Mile 6.3 – “The Cut
The O&W was known as “The Big Cut” when the route was being carved by hard-working laborers in the early 20th Century. The railroad took years to build, mostly because of the huge sandstone that had to be cut through. This section of the route is one of the best examples of the efforts the builders of the railroad went to in order to open this rugged backcountry to steam locomotives. The cuts are as deep as 90 ft. When they were built, the crews used mule-drawn wagons to transport the rock and dirt away.
Mile 6.5 – The Canyon
When emerging from The Cut, look to the left for some spectacular views of the canyon that encases the Big South Fork River. It is this stretch of the river and the gorge through which it flows that earns this area the name “Grand Canyon of the East.” (The above photo was taken from the river. The O&W Road lies at the foot of the cliff line.)
Mile 7.4 – O&W Bridge
The O&W Railroad Bridge is truly an antique. Built in 1915, it is one of the few surviving whipple-style bridges remaining in the United States. The bridge was actually built in another region, then disassembled and moved to the Big South Fork when the O&W was built.