smoky mountain relayBrittney Burns – Staff Writer

A 214-mile overnight relay in its 7th year is scheduled to pass through Franklin this weekend. The relay, which features 12-person teams begins in Brevard, and meanders through the  mountains and trails of Western North Carolina to Wesser, at the Nantahala Outdoor Center campus.

During a special called meeting of the Macon County Board of Commissioners on Monday night, county officials approved the race and its entry and exit points within the county.

The overnight relay starts at the Pink Beds Park in Brevard, and ends at the Nantahala Outdoor Center in Bryson City. The Smoky Mountain Relay course takes runners through some of the most beautiful, pristine, and challenging terrain in the Southeast.

Along the route, runners will see the magnificent granite dome of Looking Glass and spectacular views from the Blue Ridge Parkway to the Mountain to Sea trail. At night runners will be far from city lights, but very close to the Appalachian and Bartram trails along the upper Nantahala River.  Along the course, racers will run through many picturesque valleys framed by tree-covered mountains and meandering streams.

The 12-person teams will cover the course in 36 sections, called legs, with each runner completing three legs. Ultra-running teams of six or less athletes are also eligible to enter. The legs range from 2.5 miles to 10 miles in length, and vary in difficulty from easy to very hard terrain. Teams generally complete the course between 24 and 34 hours, and are responsible for supplying two vans in order to shuttle their runners to various exchange points along the course.

Post-Race Celebration

As teams triumphantly descend into the Nantahala Gorge for the finish at NOC, they will be greeted with food, drinks, and live music to celebrate the completion of their epic adventure.

The Smoky Mountain Relay is in need of volunteers for this weekend, to ensure runners are safe along the routes throughout Western North Carolina. All volunteers will received an event t-shirt. For more information on volunteering opportunities, contact Jim Brendle at