The Sunset Stampede was a very popular race when it galloped onto the Western North Carolina racing scene in 2003. The legendary 10 miler drew runners from beyond North Carolina with participants coming from nearby states such as South Carolina, Tennessee, Virginia, Georgia and Alabama. But the allure of the Stampede also attracted runners from Pennsylvania, Illinois, New York, Maine, Colorado, Texas and California. The race would be held in the early evening in early May, making it a near sunset race that would climb to the top of Sunset Mountain just outside of Downtown Asheville.
In the early years the 10 mile race was paired with a 4 mile race. The 4 mile race became a 5k race in later years. The race moved to late May instead of early May, became a morning race instead of an early evening race and was associated with the Mountain Sports Festival. Along the way the race lost its allure. It was last held in 2010, almost returned in 2011 – but it was not meant to be.
Race director Randy Ashley has always had an interest in bringing the race back and in 2013 the Sunset Stampede will return as an early evening (5 PM) race on May 25th. The long race will be a 15k (about 9.3 miles) and the short race will be a 5k. There will also be a 1 mile run. The race will start and finish at Grove Park at the intersection of Charlotte Street and Macon. 15k runners will follow Edgemont to Macon and eventually Old Toll. The course will wind its way up until it tops off on Sunset Summit before it starts downhill on Patton Mountain Road (gravel) to Sunset (paved and shaded) down Baird to Albemarle and finally back to Charlotte Street for the finish at Grove Park.
I’ve done the 10 mile race four times (2006, 2007, 2008 and 2010). We’ll be celebrating the return of the Sunset Stampede by dusting off some of the old race results and publishing them so you can see the variety of familiar faces that have turned out for the race over the years.