11 Unique Summer Races near Asheville

Scooter Lowrimore
Made Possible by
Curated by

Whether you are motivated by competition, community activism, or maybe just a free beer, Asheville and the surrounding towns will keep you running all summer long. From a gentle four miles through the countryside, to a downtown 5k, to a brutal uphill climb that may have you crawling on all fours, runners of all levels and experience levels can find their ideal racing event. Color cannons, prizes, painting, and live music are just a few examples of the extra fun you'll run across along the way.

1. The Orchard 4 Miler
Spruce Pine, NC
Saturday, May 30, 2015

This friendly 4-miler weaves through the apple trees of Altapass Orchard, just off the Blue Ridge Parkway. The only thing extreme about this race is the beauty of its bucolic setting. A gentle course of packed gravel and grassy orchard roads, capped with a final half-mile of downhill makes this an ideal race for beginners. Door prizes and festivities throughout the day round off a pleasant early-summer Saturday.

2. Quest for the Crest 10k and Vertical Kilometer
Burnsville, NC
Saturday, May 30, 2015

Kenny Holston

Are you looking for an opportunity to test the boundaries of your physical and mental endurance? Then check out the race that calls itself "The World's Hardest 10k." Run, climb, and crawl up a staggering 3,300 feet in just 2.8 miles to complete the vertical challenge, then race down the other side to complete the 10k. Heat, humidity, singletrack trail, and an insane gradient combine to create a summertime suffer-fest like none other. According to race guidelines, this may not be your first trail race.

3. Asheville Half Marathon & 10K
Asheville, NC
Saturday, June 6, 2015

This classic half marathon and 10k winds through the eclectic streets of downtown Asheville and alongside the French Broad River. Local artists are stationed at every mile marker to provide live music and encouragement for the 3,000 participants. A finish line festival will be held until noon at Pack Square Park, complete with refreshments, entertainment, and vendors.

4. Chamber Challenge
Friday, June 5th
Asheville, NC

Team up with your co-workers for the Chamber Challenge, designed to foster friendly competition between local businesses. This 5k course begins at the Asheville Chamber of Commerce and runs through the historic Montford neighborhood, with prizes awarded to the top team in each of the ten industry categories.

5. Race to the Taps: Pisgah Brewing
Asheville NC
Saturday, June 12, 2015


A good run and a cold beer are a match made in heaven. This chip-timed, four mile race through Black Mountain is the second installment in the wildly popular Race to the Taps Running Series.  Your run will begin and end at Pisgah Brewery, where you will be treated to a complimentary pour after crossing the finish line. Costumes are encouraged in this quirky, fun, and community-minded race, and "King and Queen of the Taps" will be awarded to the runners who demonstrate the most spirit.

6. Run for Kids' Sake 10 Mile/5k
Swannanoa, NC
Saturday, June 13th

Enjoy the idyllic, rural campus of Warren Wilson College on this 10 mile or 5k trail run. The hilly terrain is challenging, but sweeping views of fields, rolling mountains and a working farm will keep your mind off of your burning quads. The singletrack course is not dog or stroller friendly. All proceeds will benefit the fine work of Big Brothers and Big Sisters of North Carolina.

7. Highland Night Flight
Asheville, NC
Saturday, July 11, 2015*

Courtesy of Highland Brewing Company

This will be the second year for the Highland Night Flight, an after-dark run through the neighborhood of East Asheville. Runners will travel four miles around the Asheville Golf Course, past the WNC Nature Center, and wind up back at the Highland Brewery for an award-winning microbrew and a field party out back. Between warm nights, meadows, beers, and running, this race combines the best of summertime in Asheville.

8. Color Run 5k
Simpsonville, SC
Saturday, July 11, 2015

Scooter Lowrimore

This lively and untimed 5k transforms the crowd into an enormous running rainbow. Paint blasters at four locations throughout the course will shower you with color from head to toe. Only 1.5 hours away in Simpsonville, South Carolina, The Royal Color Run will be one of the most exhilarating and memorable races you'll participate in all year. For best results, show up in your brightest whites.

9.  The Leaf Art Dash 5k and Relay
Asheville, NC
Saturday, August 1, 2015

Joe Shlabotnik

Here's another way to add some color to your summer. This 5.5k run and relay event kicks off the inaugural LEAF Downtown Music and Arts Festival. Beginning at 9am, this chip-timed race will travel through downtown Asheville and the surrounding neighborhoods. The Friends and Family Relay begins at 10am at the starting line, and will include a collaborative painting project at each exchange point. All proceeds will directly benefit LEAF Schools and Streets, a non-profit that helps bring the arts to local youth. 

10. Sourwood 5k & Cheshire Pump and Run
Black Mountain, NC
Saturday, August 8, 2015

Climbers and paddlers may want to take note of this unusual 5k, which awards participants for upper body strength! Runners can earn time deductions by pumping out bench presses before the race. The USATF certified course begins and ends at the Cheshire Fitness Club in Black Mountain, NC.

11. Twilight Rock n Roll 5k
Highlands, NC
Saturday, August 22, 2015

Run through the cool evening air of beautiful Highlands, NC, for the third annual Rotary Club of Highlands/Twilight Rock n Roll 5K. Strollers, kids, walkers, and experienced runners are all welcome to participate in this family friendly event. Finishers are rewarded with a free beer from the Ugly Dog Pub, and everyone will enjoy an outdoor concert by a local Highlands rock band. Runners will be treated to race day T-shirts, prizes for the fastest runners in each 5-year age division, and free glow sticks for the kids.

Last Updated:

Next Up


Best Salt Lake City Trails for Spring Excursions