About 200 runners showed up for the first Red, White, and Blue Ridge 5K hosted by Blue Ridge School on July 4 at the Cashiers Recreation Center. Organized by BRS Teachers Allison Hawkins and Nick Pressler, all money raised goes to support student programs such as prom, senior trip, and student travel.
“I was absolutely thrilled with the turnout,” said Hawkins. “We were hoping for at least 125, but this was great.”
The idea came to be when a friend convinced Hawkins to run a half-marathon and she thought it would be a fun way to support the school to set one up in Cashiers.
“The Foundation [Blue Ridge School Education Foundation] does so much for the School in terms of education,” she said. “This is a way to support another aspect of student life.”
Originally planned for last fall, Hawkins said there was a lot more that goes into organizing a 5K race than expected and they wanted to do it right. Plus, having the Plateau packed with visitors over the Fourth helped attract runners from across the country.
Casper Vestergaard came from New Jersey and ended up placing first in the race and said the route that began and finished at the Rec Park was a fantastic course.
“It wasn’t all uphill or completely flat,” said Vestergaard. “There’s runners from all over here today and the competition’s really good.”
Andrew Schultz ran the race with his Siberian Shepherd “Bear.”
“It was a great event,” said Schultz. “It was a gorgeous track along the lake and in the shade. Bear had to stop and grab a drink.”
Runners came as far as Montana, Colorado, and many other states.
“That’s the beauty of being in a place like Western North Carolina,” said Hawkins. “People want to come here and that adds to the variety of participants. We had hard-core runners and people in too-toos.”
She added that wheels are already in motion for next year’s 5K run.