By Emma Castleberry
Presented by Hunter Subaru, the popular Black Bear Half Marathon returns to Hendersonville for its second year on Saturday, October 9. New this year is an additional, shorter race: the Morris Broadband 8k Powered by Optimum. “Hendersonville is a beautiful destination with an abundance of fall foliage and so it made sense to complement an exciting and beautiful season with a half marathon and 8k race for the community,” says race director Daphne Kirkwood. “The race is an attraction and activity that will bring in participants both locally and from all across the nation, thus filling up our local restaurants, breweries and accommodations and further boosting our local economy.”
The races will take place simultaneously, starting and finishing at Jackson Park, with routes winding through mostly flat terrain in downtown Hendersonville, park pathways and the Oklawaha Greenway. The 8k has an 8 a.m. mass start and the half marathon will have a rolling start between 8 and 8:30 a.m. Overall male and female winners of the 8k will each receive $100 in cash prize money. Additionally, five finishers in the 8k will be picked at random at the Awards Ceremony to receive $50 in cash.
The event will also act as a fundraiser for the nonprofit Friends of the Oklawaha Greenway. “We want to give back to those that continuously upkeep this wonderful greenway so that it is maintained and kept in good condition for years to come,” says Kirkwood. Funds raised at the race will be used for the native plants garden around the Greenway’s red kiosk and improved signage along the Greenway. “The Oklawaha Greenway is a hidden treasure that runs through meadows and wetland forests,” says Suzanne Hale, chair of the nonprofit group. “It’s less than five minutes from downtown Hendersonville, but many people don’t know it exists. The Black Bear Half Marathon is a great way to introduce the Greenway to new people so they can enjoy it on a regular basis.”
This year’s race hub will feature an Asheville Personal Training Recovery Zone, food options and, for runners 21 and over, a post-race beer from Oklawaha Brewing Company. All half marathon runners will receive a custom-designed commemorative finisher medal and all runners will get a free shirt. Additionally, overall and age group winners will receive a black bear colored pencil print by Amy Cocanour, a local artist who specializes in life-like animal portraits.