This spring, area runners will have a brand-new opportunity to run wild at the WNC Nature Center. The Friends of the WNC Nature Center will host its first-ever race with the inaugural Running of the Goats 5k and Nature Walk on Sunday, April 25. The event will take place in and around the WNC Nature Center with several options for runners and walkers. Learn more and register at www.wildwnc.org/runwild.
Participants can run or walk the 3.1 mile course, which starts and ends at the WNC Nature Center. During this chip-time race, runners will begin by catching a glimpse of the goats, bears, birds, and otters before heading out on a rolling, paved course on Azalea Road by the John B. Lewis Soccer Fields.
There is also an option to choose a non-competitive Nature Walk inside the Nature Center. The walk will wind its way along a one-mile paved route to see the animals while enjoying the park at a more leisurely pace. This self-guided tour will include fun, nature-related prompts and activities along the path. To ensure that the animals do not become stressed, running is not permitted along the Nature Walk course.
Proceeds from the event go to the Friends of the WNC Nature Center and help support various programs throughout the park, including animal enrichment, outreach education, and habitat renovations. For those who want to support the Friends of the WNC Nature Center but aren’t ready to participate in an in-person event, there’s also a virtual race option available.
“The Running of the Goats 5k and Nature Walk takes place the weekend after Earth Day, so it’s the perfect time to get out in nature and celebrate this amazing place that we get to call home,” says Kate Frost, Director of Development at Friends of the WNC Nature Center. “We expect this to become an annual event, as it’s a great opportunity to get outdoors, help save wildlife, and explore what the WNC Nature Center has to offer.”
Registration opened on Tuesday, March 16 and capacity is limited. The first 75 participants to register for the in-person event will receive an additional $20 in extra goodies in their race packets, including coupons to Highland Brewing, The Hop Ice Cream, Black Bear BBQ, and KONA Ice. Register by April 11 at www.wildwnc.org/runwild to receive a free race shirt and guest pass to the WNC Nature Center.
The event was named “The Running of the Goats” because of the afternoon tradition at the WNC Nature Center where the farm animals leave the barnyard and run toward their stalls for their dinner. While the goats will not actually be running in the race, they will be on the sidelines to cheer on runners, as the first part of the course passes by the barnyard. Plus, participants are encouraged to wear animal-themed attire and accessories for the event, with a costume contest and prizes for the best dressed. There may be a few goats running the race after all!
The Friends of the WNC Nature Center have partnered with iDaph Events to ensure a safe and enjoyable race experience for participants. “Here at iDaph Events, safety is our top priority,” says owner and race director Daphne Kirkwood. “We want to ensure that our participants, staff, volunteers and community stay safe and healthy, and we are following all of the necessary precautions to help prevent the spread of COVID-19. In order to keep our community and runners safe throughout the race experience, we will implement pre-race temperature and COVID screenings, wave rolling starts, and social distance measures will be in place throughout the event. We will aim to have a ‘contactless’ event to provide a safe event for all,” says Kirkwood.
In addition to these safety measures and in accordance with current guidelines for the park from the State of North Carolina, all participants over the age of five will be required to wear a face covering while inside the Nature Center gates and at the start and finish lines of the event. There will be no post-race party this year, and race awards will be announced online. 5k race medals and other prizes will be presented at a later date to the top finishers in multiple age categories. To reduce crowding during the race, spectators will not be allowed in the grounds of the WNC Nature Center or along the course. All attendees must be registered participants.
The Running of the Goats 5k and Nature Walk is sponsored by several community partners, including Zealandia Holding Company, White Oak Financial Management, Park National Bank, BrickStreet Equity Management, Landmark Landscapes, Grimes Teich Anderson LLP, Highland Brewing, HomeTrust Bank, US Cellular Premier Locations, Parsec Financial, and David Rodgers of Appalachian Realty Associates. The Friends of the WNC Nature Center also appreciate the support of iDaph Events, Big Frog, and Earth Fare.