Shiloh Mielke and Meadow Tarves are a local brother/sister duo who dominated this year’s Shut-In Ridge Trail Run. The 18-mile course follows the Mountains-to-Sea Trail from the North Carolina Arboretum to the summit of Mount Pisgah.
Mielke, 26, ran cross country for Brevard College for two years before transferring to Northern Arizona University in Flagstaff, where he continued running competitively. He qualified for the U.S. team competing for the World Mountain Running Trophy in Turkey. He lives in Enka (not Ankara).
Tarves, 28, ran cross country and track at Brevard College. Now a full-time mom with three boys ages 6 and under, she lives in Fletcher with her husband, Jason.
I recently sat down with the siblings to find out more about how growing up here affected their development as athletes.
Molly Malone: What was it like to grow up in the mountains of WNC?
Meadow Tarves: We were given free rein to pretty much climb around and do as much adventurous stuff as we wanted. I think my parents found the most remote spot in all of Western North Carolina to raise us. We pretty much lived up on a mountain; there was nothing around, and there were trails everywhere. I was home-schooled until freshman year of high school, and Shiloh was until seventh grade. We were pretty much at home exploring the woods all the time. There were hundreds of acres around.
MM: What sports did you get into as kids?
MT: I think I started biking before I started running. Our parents were into biking way before it was cool. My dad was fast; he was winning all the races by like five or 10 minutes and stuff. And then the rest of the family — my mom’s brothers and their wives and kids — they really got into it. I would say in our family there’s always some sort of friendly competition across the board between all of the cousins, always trying to beat each other.
Shiloh Mielke: I remember running when I was a kid, like three times a week. I got a coach when I was 14, Norman Blair. I probably wouldn’t be a runner if it wasn’t for Norman.
MT: I started running because I wanted to beat Shiloh. It was the first thing he could beat me at, and since then I’ve never beat him. Norman Blair needs credit for being the running anchor of this area. He owns the Jus’ Running store in Asheville. He’s been very instrumental in both of our lives as far as running goes.
MM: What are your training schedules like these days?
MT: As far as serious training, I’d say a lot of it is on our own. I’m on the Asheville women’s biking team, Team Prestige Subaru, so I also do a lot of biking, both mountain and road. As far as running miles, I run 60 or 70 a week. I usually try to work out in the morning, because I don’t want it to interfere with home life too much. I have to give my mom credit, because if I didn’t have my mom I wouldn’t be able to do a lot of it. Because there’s been lots of times when we just leave from my house and run two hours, so my mom will always watch the kids.
SM: A lot of our training is on our own, especially when we’re more serious. I get around 80 to 90 miles a week. Every once in a while I’ll run on the roads. I enjoy running really hilly trails.
MM: What are some of your favorite trails to run around here?
MT: I like all the trails in Pisgah, and the gravel roads, like Avery’s Creek and Yellow Gap. Art Loeb, for sure. As far as convenience and a great place to run, probably Bent Creek. I work out at Asheville Racket Club, and we can get to the Mountains-to-Sea Trail right out back. It’s convenient, so it’s whatever I can hit first.
SM: I like running on the Art Loeb Trail from the fish hatchery to Shining Rock, or Black Balsam. That’s probably harder than running Shut-In, actually. It’s probably 18 or 19 miles — you go up Butter Gap, and it takes a long time to get there.
MM: You both won Shut-In, but how did you feel about your races this year?
MT: The leaves this year were ankle-deep; the trail was slow. It affects your concentration more than anything, because you can’t see your footing. It wore on you after a while. The last two miles are the toughest. I mean, you can get to the last two miles and you’re on good time, and then all of a sudden it takes you … what did it take you that day?
SM: Twenty-eight minutes.
MT: And then what did it take you when you set the record?
SM: Twenty minutes; I was on record pace at that point.
MT: So that shows what happens if you’re depleted at that point. That last two miles really determines a lot of people’s races. I think I ran the last two miles faster than he did.
SM: When I broke the record last year, I ran fast, because the trail was fast and I didn’t get lost. I got lost this year right after Bent Creek Gap. I think if I hadn’t gotten lost I would’ve been closer to the record time. I got lost because I was just a moron. I was thinking real fast, saw where the trail went and just kept going. I went probably half a mile before I turned around. I cut up through the woods, so I probably tacked on a half-mile. But then I went too fast, so I tacked on more time because I overcompensated. I would’ve been about 22 or 23 minutes if I hadn’t bonked in the last two miles.
MM: Are you training for anything now?
SM: USATF Nationals is up next, in February. There are nine spots on the team, up from six last year, so I have a better chance of qualifying. It’s a 12K race; last year’s was in Turkey, and the next two years will be in Switzerland.
MT: I can’t wait for Shut-In next year; I’m crazy about the race. I don’t want to put all my eggs in one basket, but once you’ve run it once it’s hard not to think about it. It’s so much fun. I haven’t tried on any personas, like Shiloh. Shiloh always has interesting hair, like last year’s pink Mohawk and this year’s mullet and mustache. In the big scheme of things, Shiloh and I are little peons. It’s funny when people say ‘good job.’ We just grew up always knowing that Shut-In was the race around.
[Molly Malone lives in Asheville.]