Watauga High School will host a series of 3000m races (one for each grade level) at State Farm Field in Boone this Saturday.
Great Outdoor Provision Co. Presents the Featured Meet of Week 1:
Pioneer Clash of the Classes (State Farm Fields, Boone, NC)
Hosted by Watauga High School
(Schedule, teams entered, previous years)
This meet was originally the brainchild of John Weaver, who directs the running programs at Appalachian State. Although it was once well-attended on its original date in early September, enthusiasm for the meet had begun to wane about five years ago. In 2010, Appalachian decided not to hold the meet anymore, and turned over the "rights" to the meet and its name to Watauga High School. The Pioneer coaching staff promptly moved the meet to an earlier date, where the 3K distance was a better fit. When asked about the reason why ASU lost interest in the meet, Watauga coach David Honea offered a few ideas: "One reason was the date - they did it the weekend after Labor Day, and by that time most schools willing to travel to weekend meets were looking for 5k's, and more traditional race formats. ASU is not back in session in mid-August, so it isn't practical for them to host a meet this weekend. That fact that ASU students aren't back yet is actually a big plus for us - it means there is no conflict on use of the fields and trails for the race." Honea goes on to elaborate on the thoughts behind the meet for the Watauga staff, who envisioned a meet they would want their own kids to participate in: "We have a great place to run and great weather, and usually put close to 10 runners on the course in each of the eight races, so we will have a decent event for our kids as long as any other schools show up to make it seem like a real race. The distance and timing are exactly what we want, so we put the work in to make it happen."
Ironically for a course in one of the more moutainous areas of the state, the State Farm Field course is almost completely flat. For this race, the 3000m course starts on the far side of the covered bridge when coming from the parking lot (you can refer to the course map below, although it is marked for a 5K, not for the 3K). Runners will encounter only one hill, which isn't terribly steep but does go on for about 400 meters. The course is mostly grass, although sections of the race follow paved greenways where runners have the choice of grass or asphalt; there is also a segment of crushed rock dust on the back side of the course. Once again, Coach Honea on the choice of 3K for this early-season event, instead of a full 5K: "Knocking 40% off the distance turns it for many more of the kids into an exercise of "how fast can I finish" rather than "can I finish." I want to cultivate that attitude in everyone. Even for the kids who did the summer work and are physically ready to race a 5k (and to be honest, that includes virtually everyone who will be a factor at the end of the season), it is still psychologically demanding. A 3k is a lot more forgiving mentally, and for kids who are ready to make a jump you reduce the risk of getting a bad time that makes them think they won't reach their goals for the season. "
(5K, not 2 Mile)
DIrections to Boone
NOTE: Saturday is "move-in day" for upperclassmen at Appalachian State, so you should anticipate some extra traffic if driving to Boone (particularly along 421 coming in from the east).
From the Charlotte area: Take I-85 West toward Gastonia. Take US-321 North all the way to Boone. In Boone, turn right on US-221/Hwy 105. Turn right onto Shadowline Dr. Continue straight onto Dale St. to get to State Farm Fields. MAP
From the Triad or anywhere east of there (Raleigh area, for example): Take I-40 through Winston-Salem (do not take Business 40 unless you are starting in Winston-Salem). Exit onto US-421 North on the western side of Winston-Salem. Take US-421 all the way to Boone. In Boone, turn left on US-221/Hwy 105. Turn left onto State Farm Rd. Turn left onto Dale St. to get to State Farm Fields. MAP
From the Asheville area (not an easy drive at all): take I-40 past Black Mountain to US-70 East. Take US-70 East into Marion. Take US-221 North to Linville. Continue straight onto Hwy 105. Take 105 all the way to Boone. In Boone, continue on 105 across 221/321, then turn right onto State Farm Rd. Turn left onto Dale St. to get to State Farm Fields. MAP
Things to Do Outdoors in the Boone Area
If you plan to make a weekend of your trip to Boone, or just want to visit somewhere before heading back down the mountain, consider these choices:
- Tubing on the New River: the South Fork is wide and bendy, with few rapids, making for a leisurely and relaxing afternoon. There are guide companies all over the Boone area.
- Blue Ridge Parkway: this scenic drive is accessible on the east side of Boone, from US-421 on the northeast (Winston-Salem) side and from US-321 on the southeast (near Blowing Rock). Parkway in NC
- State Parks: enjoy hiking, camping, picnics, and other activities in a wide range of parks, including Moses Cone and Julian Price (both along the Blue Ridge Parkway).
- Mast General Store: not technically an "outdoor" activity, but no trip to Boone is complete without a visit to the iconic general store; there is also one in Valle Crucis, an easy drive from Boone.