The Black and Blue Relay, a long distance cycling race, begins and ends along the banks of the New River in Todd on May 28.
The Black and Blue Relay, the only event of its kind in the country, consist of two separate races - a 107-mile race called a century and a 216-mile race called a double century.
"For the most part, we are looking to get on back roads and showcase the beauty of this region," Ken Sevensky, race director for Blue Ridge Endurance, said. "I am really pleased with what we have done in capturing the roads less traveled and the scenery we have on the course."
The century shares the initial 75 miles with the double century through the mountains of North Carolina, Virginia, and Tennessee. As the double century hits Mountain City, Tenn., on its way to Watauga Lake, the century breaks towards Creston and back into Todd.
The double century course travels over two of the highest peaks in the region: Roan Mountain, Tenn., and White Top Mountain, Va.
Cyclists can race the entire course solo or in teams. For the century, there is a four-person team limit and four stages, and the double century has an eight-person team limit and eight stages. The shortest stage is 25 miles, and the longest stage is 33 miles.
"The teams can basically establish their own guidelines of how far they are going to ride per stage, or how frequently they exchange riders," Sevensky said. "They can swap out riders on the fly, but the teams are required to exchange riders only at our established points."
Chris Medlin is cycling the double century solo. He has never ridden quite that far before, though he has competed in triathlons in the past. By late May, he should be in shape, because he is training diligently.
"I ride every weekend," he said. "I try to stack up miles every opportunity I get. I got up early this morning and rode 70 miles."
Medlin, who lives in Rocky Point near the coast, isn't used to cycling up mountains and steep inclines. Though the Black and Blue Relay has some flat sections near Watauga Lake and along the rivers, the double century course rises more than 19,500 feet in elevation.
"I know its going to be a long day," Medlin said. "I'll just try not to redline early in the day. I'm always saving a little bit for later. I'm not used to hills, so I'll always keep a little bit back, so I can get up the next (hill.)"
Medlin isn't competing against other racers; he is competing with himself to attain his own goals.
"I am 42 years old," he said. "It's not like I am going to go out there and win. I like to push myself. I get a personal sense of satisfaction doing endurance events."
The Black and Blue Relay begins at the Riverside Restaurant in Todd. The double century starts at 6 a.m., and the century begins at 7 a.m. Registration ends May 14.
For more information or to register, click to http://www.blackandbluerelay.com, or call Ken or Kristin Sevensky at (828) 877-8888.
New River Marathon Update
There are only six weeks of registration left for the New River Marathon. More than 500 runners have signed up so far. The New River Marathon received USA Track and Field certification, so it is now an official Boston Marathon qualifier race.
The New River Mile, a one-mile "fun run," was added and will be held at 6 p.m. on Friday, May 6, during the pre-race pasta dinner at the Riverside Restaurant.
Also, Watauga and Ashe County grade school students will receive a $10 discount in the New River 5K. Their entry fee will be $20, and the discounted entry fee is valid until April 15.
For more information or to register, click to http://www.newrivermarathon.com, or call Ken or Kristin Sevensky at (828) 877-8888.