June 2, 2017 will usher in the inaugural running of the Get Outside Mountain Relay (GOMR). Runners will be treated to scenic mountain backroads flanked by thousands of Frasier Firs and farms that have been tended by the same families for decades. The winding route will cover 104 miles of Alleghany County landscape that ranges from the high ridgelines of the Blue Ridge Parkway to the New River bottom lands.
Teams will be comprised of 4 to 12 individual runners. The 104 mile route will be broken into 18 separate legs with an exchange point at each leg. Depending on team size, each runner will run 3 to 9 legs. Teams will cover the course twice for a total of 208 miles.
So, what sets GOMR apart from similar races? Other relays have a point to point route and requires teams to provide their own transportation during the race. This leads to team members often being strung out along the length of the relay and spending little time together. GOMR organizers will provide transportation to and from each exchange point, resulting in cost savings for the team. Since GOMR has a circular route, teams will be provided a campsite that serves as a hub or base. This base camp will have a festival atmosphere where runners can interact with local artisans, food vendors, volunteers and other teams. The desire is to create a strong sense of community between the teams and local citizens as together they form the “GOMR Nation.”
“Community” is a word that comes up often when talking with race organizers Donny and Wendy McCall. The course covers virtually all communities in Alleghany County. The McCalls anticipate 300 Alleghany County residents volunteering to make this race a reality. They want runners to get a feel for the varied landscape of Alleghany County and the warmth of its residents.
Donny is known by many for his appearance on the reality television show, Shark Tank. As he pitched his idea to the venture capitalists, a recurring theme was his desire to use his business as means of adding to the economic vitality of Alleghany County. That unwavering commitment to the community and Donny’s unwillingness to outsource production elements of his product frustrated the sharks who were focused on the company’s bottom line. His refusal to bend led to numerous blogs, articles and this ABC report that debated the merits of his steadfast desire to have his product made in America. Donny’s focus on social entrepreneurship have carried over to GOMR.
The McCall’s desire is for GOMR to provide an economic “shot in the arm” for Alleghany County. Their goal is to bring 100 teams – 1000 runners – to Alleghany County for the weekend. They hope those runners have such an enjoyable time that they return to bike those same backroads, take a float trip down the New River, start a business, or listen to some of the finest traditional music in the region.
The Get Outside Mountain Relay is much more that a race. It is a chance to be a part of something new and a way to exchange the hot temperatures of the lowlands for cool Alleghany evenings. It is a way to explore a mountain community up close and personal. Most of all, it will be a weekend where a new running community formed.
For more information on the Get Outside Mountain Relay, visit their website here. You can email them at firstname.lastname@example.org or talk with them by phone at 336-363-4984. Or you follow them on Facebook.
Click here for registration information and discount deadlines.
For more information on Alleghany County visit their website here.
Material for this blog first appeared in the Alleghany News.