RUNNING: Cherokee Runners complete grueling races

by Mar 26, 2018SPORTS di-ne-lv-di-yi

ASSAULT: Several members of the Cherokee Runners group took on the “Assault” run several weeks ago. Held in Sylva’s Pinnacle Park, covers a 7-mile stretch and has a 2,770 feet accent to the top of Blackrock. Shown (left-right) are – Canyon Woodard, overall winner from Franklin; Seth Holling, James Oocumma, and Chad Cooper, all from Cherokee; and Mark Rollins from Clyde. (Photos by Sharon Bradley)


GRUELING: Jim Oocumma (orange shirt), an EBCI tribal member and Cherokee Runner, heads downhill in the grueling Assault race.

Several members of the Cherokee Runners have completed grueling races in the past month.   Jimmy Oocumma and Chad Cooper, both EBCI tribal members, finished the Fontandango race at the Fontana Village Resort on Saturday, March 3. The race began in 2016 and, as of this year, only four runners had completed the 50-mile run.  Runners participated in a 10-mile loop for either a 50-mile run, a 50k which is 30 miles, or a 10-miler.

Cooper finished the 50k in 6 hours and 46.55 minutes, a personal best that put him 10th in the field of 24.  Oocumma finished the 50-mile race in 10 hours and 4.58 minutes putting him third in a field of 26.  This grueling race covered steep climbs and rolling hills thru the scenic area around the Resort.

Two weeks later, the native runners attacked the Blackrock run known as the “Assault”.  This strenuous run, held in Sylva’s Pinnacle Park, covers a 7-mile stretch and has a 2,770 feet accent to the top of Blackrock.  This is the eighth year for the run with proceeds from entry fees going to the “Shop with a Cop” program in Jackson County.  Conditions were rigorous, wet, cold, and rocky.

Seth Holling, Cherokee Runner, finished 13th with a time of 1:32:33, Oocumma finished 14th with a time of 1:32:37, and Cooper finished 17th with a time of 1:33:28, all from a field of 105 runners.  The challenge of the race is to finish in under 101 minutes for the coveted prize of a belt buckle.  Cooper and Oocumma both earned their third buckles.

– Sharon Bradley