By GERRI GRADY
The Cherokee Runners took second place overall in the grueling Smoky Mountain Relay on Saturday, May 14. Fifteen runners and two volunteers ran together, ate together, catnapped together and encouraged one another through 34 hours that included steep mountain runs, roadways, rugged trail runs and sloshing through creeks. The race began in the Pisgah Forest near Brevard and ended at the Nantahala Outdoor Center near Bryson City.
Groups of Cherokee Runners rode in two to seven vehicles searching for remote exchange points oftentimes not marked by the race organizers. Through it all, they displayed the characteristics of a true team: camaraderie, support, encouragement, cooperation and perseverance.
In addition to the Cherokee Runners, there were twelve other teams. Each runner was assigned multiple legs in the 36-leg course and at times team members would run together to aid and support each other. There were a couple of additional challenges with the poorly marked course – additional miles were run by some runners and occasionally they had to assume they were on the right path.
Through it all, the group worked together to ensure that they covered every leg and every mile in the Relay (plus a few extra). Members were: Angel, Nick, Priscilla and Lamont Squirrell; Robin and Stephan Swimmer; Sean Grady; Chad Bowman; Cliff Mault; Tom Baker; Thomas Benedict; Brian Driver; Brian Burgess; Lucky Hodges; and Jimmy Oocumma with Skye Littledave and Gerri Grady as volunteers.
The Cherokee Runners related they would like to thank Chief Michell Hicks, Bethabara Church, its members and their families for financial assistance and the use of vehicles for this event.
The standings for the Smoky Mountain Relay:
2. Cherokee Runners
3. Honey Badgers
4. ASU Speedwagon
5. Tarred Heals can’t Slow Us Down
7. Slow Motion Runners
8. Spread Thin
9. Wii Not Fit
10. Mike T. Hunt
11. Don’t Tread On Me