This is one of my favorite races. I’ve run it the last two years in a row. Why do I like it so much? First, it’s a 10:00 AM start on a Saturday. Second, the setting is great in the Southcliff community. Several outdoor fireplaces burn on the cool October morning. Third, it’s very close to my home. Fourth, it’s an impeccably well-run race with fabulous post-race food. Fifth, a nearly 2,000 elevation gain in the Black race (the long one, listed as 6.5 miles). That’s right – the Black race reaches an elevation just under 4,000 feet and starts around 2,400 feet. So I’ve done a bit of liberal rounding. In any event, it’s more than 1,500 feet.
The race starts on pavement – the quiet streets within Southcliff. No traffic, but this race gets right to the misery – it’s uphill from the start. After a mile or so it’s on to the single-track switchbacks which you’ll stay on going uphill for about two miles. Once you hit the top it is literally all downhill. Switchbacks for a while, then onto a gravel road for a while before tucking back into the woods for more trails to the finish.
The Blue race (the shorter one, listed as 2.6 miles) is described as a mini-version of the Black race. I’m not too familiar with it but it can’t possibly have as much uphill.
From the race organizers …
Southcliff Asheville welcomes runners from across the region to run on the private roads and trails of this upscale community minutes from downtown Asheville. The name Black & Blue comes from ski trail designations with the black, or black diamond, being the most difficult of the races and the blue, or blue triangle, being the easier. The 2010 event will be a joint production of Glory Hound Events and Lee Timing.
Both races begin and end at the guardhouse at the bottom of the mountain and both races follow the main road for the beginning of the race. Following the finish, each runner is invited back to the clubhouse patio where food, drink and a fire in the fireplace await them.
Here are directions to Southcliff …
From Downtown: Take I-240E. Take the US-74A (Exit 9) toward Blue Ridge Parkway. Merge onto US-74A Travel 4.1 miles and turn left into Southcliff. From I-26: From the west, travel I-26E (which becomes US-19S/US-23) to I-240E and follow directions above from I-240. From the east, travel I-26W to I-40. From there, follow the directions below from I-40. From I-40: Take the US-74A (Exit 53A) toward Blue Ridge Parkway. Merge onto US-74A. Travel 4.1 miles and turn left into Southcliff.