Smoky Mountain Relay adds 140 mile race option

Press release from Kick It Event Management: 

Now in its 11th year, the Smoky Mountain Relay (April 26th- April 27th, 2019) has been hailed as the most challenging relay race in the southeast! Teams from across the country converge on Pink Beds State Park, just outside of Brevard, NC, to race through 206 miles of Western North Carolina’s rolling green mountains, gorgeous rivers, and idyllic farmland to a world-class finish line celebration at the iconic Nantahala Outdoor Center in Bryson City, NC.

The organizers of the Smoky Mountain Relay are excited to announce that this year’s event will be adding a shorter race option. Runners of the shorter option will only need to race 140 miles over 24 legs instead of the longer 206 miles and 36 legs. The shorter event will begin at the Jackson County Recreation Complex in Cullowhee, NC which is the 12th transition zone of the longer race. From there, both the 140 and 206 mile races will travel the same course to finish at the Nantahala Outdoor Center.

“All of us at the SMR understand that running the full 206 miles is a major commitment to a lot of teams with many runners having to run a total of 18 to 20 miles over 24 to 30 hours. You’ve got to be in good shape to do that, almost marathon shape, and that is the biggest concern for most of our runners before they decide to sign up or not!” said race co-director Leslie Grotenhuis. “But, shave off one leg and you’ve got a more manageable 12 to 14 miles. Most runners could walk out of their front door at any time during the year and get through a half marathon, which, by the way, is becoming America’s favorite distance. Our shorter race will allow more people, the ones that are more comfortable with less mileage, to experience what it’s like to run with their friends in this amazing relay race through the mountains of Western North Carolina.”

Smoky Mountain Relay founder, Jim Brendle, added, “We consulted with several teams that have run the SMR more than once, including the F3 group, and they all agreed that this would be a great way to increase participation at our event.”

Captains are encouraged to sign their teams up for the “mini” relay by visiting the registration site through a link on and then simply choosing the “mini” option. Super-early pricing is in place through December 31st for both race distances. In addition, there are also special discounts for both collegiate and military teams. The organizers have limited the “mini” option to only forty teams and the full distance to sixty teams in order to make sure, in this first year, that both events are safe and enjoyable.

About the Smoky Mountain Relay and its directors:
The creator of the Smoky Mountain Relay, Jim Brendle, grew up running in the woods of Western North Carolina, and he quickly fell in love with the wild places he explored as a kid. After running the Hood to Coast relay in Oregon, he was inspired to create a relay that would share the places that meant so much to him growing up. The first Smoky Mountain Relay happened in April of 2009, and it has been faithfully produced ever since. Jim owns Sourwood Running, whose tagline is We run the Toughest Relays on the Planet, and also produces the 218 mile Wild Rogue Relay in Oregon.

Joining the SMR in 2018, Leslie and Tim Grotenhuis of Kick It Event Management have been putting on races in, and around, Asheville since 2006, starting with Asheville’s oldest race, the Thomas Wolfe 8K and including one of the area’s biggest events, the Isaac Dickson Elementary School Hot Chocolate 10K and Kids Hill Climb, which they founded in 2008 as a fundraiser for their children’s school. They also founded and produce, in conjunction with the Asheville Radio Group, the Race to the Taps series as well as partnered with Glory Hound Events to create the Asheville Running Experience, a weekend-long series of events that highlight Asheville’s remarkable running scene.

The Smoky Mountain Relay consists of 12 person or 6 person ultra teams that rotate through 24 or 36 transition areas depending on your choice of the 140 or 206 mile race. Each relay team member runs 2 or 3 legs (depending on the race) of varying lengths and difficulty and will cover an average total distance of 18-20 miles (for the 206 mile race).

If you are interested in supporting the 2019 Smoky Mountain Relay by being a sponsor, volunteer, or event participant please visit our website at

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