Gaston County’s rolling topography, scenic waterways, and active community make for a year’s worth of memorable adventure. Our list of the top locally endorsed events will make you shake off those winter blues, start training, and earn bragging rights in 2017.
Frigid 5K Run & Plunge
The coldest adventure to make our list is the US. National Whitewater Center’s (USNWC) Frigid 5K held every February. Runners get a shock to the system with a plunge into a 20-foot-deep pool at the end of the race.
Four Peaks Challenge Century Ride
This epic 110K road ride travels the pastoral hills and valleys of Gaston County, gaining more than 2,500 feet of elevation in the process. Tackle Spencer, Cramer, and Crowders Mountains to enjoy a rewarding descent through Ranlo. Maps and directions are available at South Main Cycles in Belmont. Stop by The Station) for craft beer, cider, and soda after the ride.
Time Laps 24 Hour Relay Race
Relay teams race around the clock to earn points on 30 miles of trails rated for various levels of difficulty, earning a place on our list as the longest event, which is held in May. Time Laps scoring allows teammates to choose terrain to match their running experience and style so everyone from novice to marathoner contributes to the final team score. As much a social experience as a race, participants will enjoy bonfires, craft beer, and food, and the race finished sup with live music as the River Jam concert series highlights the post-race festival.
XTERRA Whitewater Triathlon
This USA Triathlon-sanctioned race combines a 1K Catawba River swim with a 23K mountain bike and 8K trail run on USNWC singletrack for some serious off-road grit and grind.
Aqua Rock Deep Water Solo Climbing Competition
The five climbing spires of the USNWC’s brand new Deep Water Solo complex allow free-climbing competitors to scale 25- to 45-foot walls, choosing how high to climb before taking the plunge into the 20-foot-deep pool underneath. Four competition dates scheduled in 2017 mean you can keep coming back for more.
The Dry Tri
Swap out swim caps and goggles for your kayak for a 1.25-mile paddle, 9 mile mountain bike and 5K run on the USNWC trail network in September. Dry Tri competitors can register individually or in relay teams of two or three.
Run Gaston Race Series
Gaston County’s running scene is strong, with 16 local races throughout the year to prove it. Now in its fifth year, the Gaston Cup Race Series brings runners and Gaston businesses together to get active and support community non-profits, earning this race series a place on our list as best event to show your love. Most races are either 5K or 10K long and take place throughout the year.
Tread Nightly/Tread Brightly
Break out your headlamp and choose from two different races (half marathon or four-miler) in the evening and the next morning in this USNWC trail race under the stars. Tread participants have the option of racing on Friday night (Tread Nightly), camping on site, and racing again on Saturday morning (Tread Brightly), making this July event the best sleepover on our list.
Dirty Dozen Obstacle Adventure Race
Test your strength, endurance, and tolerance for mud on this combo trail race-obstacle course, obviously making our list as the dirtiest event. Dirty Dozen participants complete obstacles in the order of their choosing, with a post-race celebration at the USNWC Fall Finale.
WC-50 Ultra Trail Marathon
WC-50 ultra-marathon runners can choose from 50K and 50-mile options in the best endurance test to make our list. The 50K offers a mix of challenging climbs and rolling riverside trails, while the 50-miler pumps up the elevation on the Center’s more technical trails. Both routes end at the Pump House Biergarten for post-race libations and celebrations.
A Shot in the Dark Night Trail Race
Darkness falls and temperatures drop for this end-of-season USNWC trail race. With 5K and 10K options and a pre-holiday vibe, Shot in the Dark gets the most laid-back nod for s’mores, hot cocoa, and craft beer at the finish line.
Ride & Seek MTB Adventure Race
Two-person mountain biking teams tackle a series of challenges along the USNWC trails in the order of their choosing, all the while being clocked against other competitors. The fastest Ride & Seek teammates to complete all checkpoints capture the prize in the most collaborative event on our list.
Spencer Mountain 10 Miler
Locals rave about the annual Spencer Mountain 10 Miler in November as one of the most challenging races in the region, and this one makes our list as the most punishing event. The course gains 5,000 feet of elevation for the ultimate year-end challenge, with a more moderate 5K option for novice to intermediate runners.
McAdenville’s annual 5K takes place on Thanksgiving weekend. McAdenville, known as Christmastown USA, twinkles with thousands of holiday lights throughout December, but most visitors only get a glimpse from their car. Runners get a preview of the light display a week before it opens to the public as the race route winds through the historic downtown of this former mill village.
Written by Ann Gibson for RootsRated in partnership with Gaston County Gov and legally licensed through the Matcha publisher network. Please direct all licensing questions to firstname.lastname@example.org.