August 11 – 13, 2023
Friday, 8/11, Although the month of August began with days of ominous gray clouds, frequent afternoon thunderstorms, strong blustery winds and plentiful rain, on the first day of the Olympiad, the clouds parted, the threat of rain all but disappeared and the sun shone brightly portending a beautiful weekend. Anticipation and excitement permeated the air. Over 100 athletes had pre-registered to run the Friday night grueling 10K test from Ingles, along the ups and downs and multiple tight turns of Buffalo Shoals Road to the finish line on the beach at Rumbling Bald.
Two stories emerged from the 10K race. Anthony Famiglietti, aka Fam, an Olympic steeple chase athlete (Athens 2004 and Beijing 2008) and friend/supporter of the Olympiad, decided to join the field and ran a spectacular time of under 30 minutes for the 6.2 miles. That’s under 5 minute miles for the difficult, challenging course. Fam comes each year to mingle with the athletes, share his Olympic experiences, sign autographs and inspire young athletes especially the kids from LLCA.
But just as surprising was the time run by first place official entrant, Mark Teague from Mill Spring, who was on Fam’s heels most of the race recording a time of 34:10. The special prize from Olympiad sponsor Blue Ridge Distillery was a bottle of Defiant American made single malt whiskey made right here in Rutherford County. Mark couldn’t accept the smooth tasting whisky because he was only 18 years old. Problem was quickly resolved; his Mom and Dad gladly accepted the award on Mark’s behalf. Congratulations to Mark, his fast thinking parents and all those who took on the challenge and finished the 10K event.
Saturday, 8/12, Triathlon Sprint. At 8am, over 300 athletes lined up in waves on the beach at Rumbling Bald for a “not-so-deep” plunge into warm waters of Lake Lure for the 750m swim portion of the event. After the swim, the athletes mount their bikes in the transition area for a 16 mile ride that loops through Bills Creek then back to the transition area at Rumbling Bald. After changing their bike shoes to their running shoes, the triathletes are off on a 5K run inside Rumbling Bald. That completes the swim/bike/run Triathlon. Phew! I’m out of breath just typing this.
The fastest male and female competitors were Adam Weeks (Huntersville, NC) and Erin Horil (Henrico, Va) with times of 1:14:21 and 1:22:44 respectively. Now that is flying! In fact, this was Adam Weeks 6th consecutive year winning the event. I’m sure Erin will be back next year. What an accomplishment! After the athletes finish, they share the bounty of food and beverages provided by our sponsors, the Mountains Library, Fairfield Mountains Chapel, Outreach, the Church of the Transfiguration, Rumbling Bald (New Belgium Beer) and dozens of volunteers. Local restaurant fruit sponsors include the Lake Lure Inn, La Strada, the Lake House and the Highlands. This is a true community effort. Kudos to everyone involved.
Sunday, 8/13, 5K Run to the Rock. A beautiful cool morning greeted us for the gathering at the base of Chimney Rock. Registration opened at 6am. Just before 7:30, local police stopped traffic (not much at that time of day on a Sunday). Over 100 runners responded to “THEY’RE OFF! About 50 yards down Route 64 the runners made a right turn into the Park for a 3 mile climb to the top. It is so beautiful that time of the day. As you can imagine the runners spread out pretty quickly. The first male and female in were Josh Wineland, (Gainesville, GA) and Amanda Prescraves (no town given) with times of 20.05 and 22.22 respectively. Interestingly, Josh was only 16 years old and was trailed by Grady Gates 14 years old from Banner Elk. Hope that these youngsters return next year. Just a personal observation: The Park Management, staff and Rangers did a superb job in managing all aspects of the race.
Overall. If you add in the golf tournament run by the Lions Club and the Junior Olympiad run by Lake Lure Classical Academy, there were about 750 total participants. People came from 20 states and as far away as New Hampshire, Utah and Texas. Ages ranged from the youngest of 12 to a senior of 81 years young. On course volunteers numbered 125 and if you include cookie and sandwich makers, that number probably exceeds 150. And the best of all, the Olympiad was able to allocate $23,000 to local service organizations and charities. Hats off to everyone. It’s all about community spirit!