A first-of-its-kind challenge, the rim-to-rim race will follow a paved route beneath the New River Gorge Bridge and is already attracting interest nationally, according to Melanie Hames, the executive director of Active Southern West Virginia.
"I think we'll see well more than 150 walkers and runners this year—we already have 95 signed up—and I'll consider it a huge success if we attract 400," Hames says.
"We're particularly thrilled to hear the inspiring stories of people from southern West Virginia who are using the race as their personal goal in their fitness journey."
The course follows a winding state road through the New River Gorge National Park and Preserve that provides stunning views of the bridge and the New River as well as early spring wildflowers.
Hosted by the outdoor-adventure resort Adventures on the Gorge, racers afterward will enjoy access to amenities at the resort and a catered brunch at its rim-side pool.
Hames said participants should be prepared for the route, but beginners should not be daunted by its ascent and descent.
"I'd say it will be challenging for someone who is new to running races," she says. "It's a challenging elevation drop and gain compared to a typical 10k, but very doable because it's a gentle gradient and a paved road."
Runners and walkers will slowly descend more than 1,300 feet from the southern rim of the gorge to the bottom at the New River then climb more than 1,300 feet back to the northern rim at the resort. The steepest incline along the route is a 20 percent section on the ascent.
The finish line will bring racers to the rim of the gorge with an overlook photo opportunity at Adventures on the Gorge.
Racers are welcome to walk the course but must maintain a 20-minute mile pace to complete the event during the allotted closed-road timeframe, she said.
For more information on the event, visit New River Gorge Rim-to-Rim Race.