‘We’ll go back’: Sylva doctor who helped at Boston bombing vows not to let terrorists win

As the manhunt ends, the nation begins to cope and the primary suspects in the Boston Marathon bombing either lay dead or in custody, Dr. Allan Panter, a Sylva emergency room doctor who visited Boston for the race, is still reliving — in vivid detail — the brutal events of that day.

Sometimes a walk is better than a run

 op quintinFor many years I was a dedicated runner. These days I’m much more likely to choose to walk, both for exercise and pleasure.

I enjoyed running, particularly trail running. There was a sense of freedom and power about running through the woods that I sometimes remember with longing. But you miss a lot when you run. There are all these goals involved: Improve your time, or run a certain distance, or something along those lines. By comparison walking seems pressure free. There are no particular goals, or at least I don’t set goals for walking. I tend to amble along enjoying what there is to see. Henry David Thoreau put it best when he noted “it is a great art to saunter.” It is indeed.

By foot or by bike: New running and cycling clubs hit their stride in Cherokee

Anyone can run or bike. And if any two people could testify to that, it’s Gerri Grady and Hugh Lambert.

Both Grady and Lambert have used exercise to overcome health problems. Now, both are leaders in two separate exercise- and social-centric clubs in Cherokee, aimed at promoting healthy lifestyles among members of the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians.

Back in the 1990s, Grady, a founding member of the Cherokee Runners, could hardly walk, let alone run.

“I started walking because I was a heavy smoker,” said Grady, secretary of the running club. “God. I could barely walk.”

Following the death of her mother from asthma-related complications in the mid-1990s, Grady was determined to get fit and began strolling a 3-mile circuit a couple of times a week with her sister.

“I got scared because of that,” she said of her mother’s death.

Walking eventually gave way to running, and in 2001, Grady ran her first 5K and quit smoking. Now, she is a dedicated runner.

Like Grady, Lambert battled his own health problems — including sleep apnea and diabetes — before he took up cycling and started Cherokee Riders Cycling Club. Formerly 300 pounds, a now 205-pound Lambert has made strides to improve his overall health.

“There is no magic pill,” he said. “Take responsibility for your own health and actions.”

Lambert tried road cycling in college but did not keep it up. In the mid-90s, he tried again with mountain biking, but his carpel tunnel caused his hands to numb.

However, last year when Lambert heard about a Trail of Tears bike ride, things changed.

“I just had to do it,” he said.

Remember the Removal is an annual three-week bicycle ride commemorating the forced removal of the Cherokee Nation from its homelands during the 1830s - a brutal march where thousands of Cherokee perished from starvation and exposure. Riders retrace the route of the Trail of Tears through Georgia, Tennessee, Kentucky, Illinois, Missouri, Arkansas and finally to Oklahoma. The ride is exclusive, only seven or eight ECBI members can participate each year. The Cherokee Nation in Oklahoma also sends 10 cyclists to complete the ride.

Desiring to be one of those, Lambert bought a bike and began self-training last spring. He figured that if he could ride 6.5 miles from Cherokee to Waterrock Knob on the Blue Ridge Parkway, which climbs more than 3,000 feet in elevation, then he would be able to make the 950-mile trek to Oklahoma.

“It took me 3.5 hours to not make it half way,” said Lambert, who was impeded by some late winter snow.

But, two weeks later, he completed a similar length ride in Sylva and improved from there.

 

Club genesis

For years, Grady ran only with fellow enthusiasts from her family, but she continued to see other familiar faces along her running routes.

“I always saw the same people out on the trail,” Grady said.

When winter came, Grady moved inside to a local fitness center, and those familiar faces followed.

“And again, we are seeing all these people who have the same enjoyment,” she said.

However, it was not until spring 2009 when Grady and some of her family members went on vacation to Myrtle Beach that the idea of a running club initially arose. To gauge people’s interest, Grady sent out a Facebook message to her friends, many of whom also ran, advertising a meet-up and the possible formation of a running club.

“Oddly enough, here they came,” Grady said. “It’s just awesome.”

Cherokee Runners has grown from 15 to 40 members since its first meeting. And, as an official club, members have crossed the finish line in three marathons and countless half-marathons, 5Ks and 10Ks.

Members of the club meet regularly throughout the week with a longer run scheduled for Sundays. After a jaunt, the runners eat oranges and socialize while cooling down, Grady said.

“It’s not about competition so much as it is about health and fitness, and social (experiences),” she said, adding that anyone can join.

Taking a cue from the Cherokee Runners, Lambert decided to gather other cycling lovers and form the mountain and road biking club — Cherokee Riders.

“Mostly, we liked to ride, and we wanted to get other people involved,” he said.

Although it is not yet an official club, Cherokee Riders already has 10 members. It hopes to gain official club status, which includes crafting bylaws and membership applications, by the end of the month.

A main focus of the club is to raise money for Remember the Removal participants and help train them. The ride costs about $5,000 per person, as each is custom fitted with a bike.

This year, 22 people applied to be one of the seven who gets to represent the Eastern Band on the three-week ride.

During the ride, members of the national nonprofit Trail of Tears Association meet with the riders to give talks and programs during their overnight stops. Participants are “exposed to culturally significant places” along the way, he said. “Everybody who’s gone on the ride said it changed their life.”

 

Civically minded

As part of its mission statement, the Cherokee Runners participate in health fairs, training programs and hosts lectures. Speakers give a rundown of what to wear when exercising during the bone-chilling winter months and the sizzling summer months, how to deal with injuries, and training techniques. All of these outside activities are aimed at promoting exercise and fitness to residents of Cherokee.

“We try to be in the community, visible,” Grady said.

The club also sponsors runs and plans to hold a summer running camp for community members.

In the future, Grady and Lambert said they hope both clubs can work together toward their common goal — to get people to maintain a healthy lifestyle.

“They (the running club) are kind of a role model for community involvement,” Lambert said.

Once it’s more established, Cherokee Riders plans to offer bike safety courses, kids camps, training and, if the funds become available, a bike rental program.

 

Kick up your heels

The Cherokee Runners meets at 7 p.m. the first and 15th of every month in the Age Link building, behind the Yellowhill Community Club. However, if the meeting date falls on a church day, it is pushed back to the following day. Members also gather for runs throughout the week and go for a longer run every Sunday. To join in the weekly runs or for more information about the club, contact Gerri Grady at 828.497.7083 or This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

 

Get peddling

A new cycling club is forming in Cherokee. The Cherokee Riders will hold an organizational and interest meeting at 2 p.m. on Sunday, Feb. 12, at the Emergency Operations Center in Cherokee, followed by a group ride. The club will hold weekly group rides. For more information about the club or their rides, contact Hugh Lambert at 828.554.6810 or This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

A great race makes a comeback

There aren’t too many road races in Western North Carolina with the storied history of the Maggie Valley Moonlight Race, sponsored this year by Mission Health System. Nor will you find many, like this one, that take place at night.

Which is exactly why Sean Grady of Cherokee is so inclined to run the upcoming 8K on Aug. 27. He wants to run this race even though he’s preparing for the Marine Corps Marathon on Oct. 30 in Arlington, Va., and despite his careful efforts otherwise to adhere to a peak-at-the-perfect-moment training regimen.

And Grady’s marathon training plan certainly does not call for a 4.8-mile road race this coming weekend.

But that’s the allure of the Maggie Valley Moonlight Race, which in its heyday attracted more than 2,300 people to this Haywood County community. The race has been subject to fits and starts over the last decade — this is the first time in a couple of years it’s been held — but the reputation of the nighttime run is legendary.

“We want to bring back some of the traditions of the race,” said Greg Duff of Glory Hound Events in Asheville, who is organizing this 30th version of the Moonlight Race.

That includes inviting regional running clubs to the run, one of the great traditions Duff wants back. Clubs would have “tailgate” parties, swap meets and meetings for members, and generally good times were had by all.

Grady and wife, Gerri, both belong to Cherokee Runners, a club on the Cherokee Indian Reservation. While Sean Grady is still vacillating a bit about whether to run the race as a tempo run (an outing done at a steady effort level, these runs are generally just a little slower than a runner’s average 10K race pace, helping to develop anaerobic or lactate thresholds), his wife is definitely participating, as are others with the Cherokee running club.

They’ll find an excellent course with plenty of running support, said Duff. The rectangular course takes runners 1.2 miles up the valley to Ghost Town, then 2.4 miles in the opposite direction, before returning them 1.2 miles to the finish line back at the fairgrounds.

The race gets under way at 8:30 p.m.

 

Want to run the Maggie Valley Moonlight Race?

Cost: $30, with registration/packet pickup on Friday, Aug. 26 from 3-6 p.m. at the Maggie Valley Fairgrounds and from 4-8 p.m. Saturday, Aug. 27 at the fairgrounds.

Time: Race starts at 8:30 p.m.

Awards: 10 p.m. at the fairgrounds stage.

Post race: Budweiser of Asheville is a race sponsor, and all runners, 21 years and older, will be able to receive one beer after the race. Bottled water will also be available at the finish line and food tent.

Runners take on tough terrain in Smoky Mountain Relay

You’ve got to be just a little bit crazy, maybe, to do this trail race — crazy for an epic trail-running experience, that is.

The Smoky Mountain Relay, taking place this Friday and Saturday (May 13-14), is more than 200 miles of trail running for teams made up of 12 or six members. The race starts from the Pink Beds area in Pisgah Forest near Brevard, and finishes at the Nantahala Outdoor Center near Bryson City, traversing some of the most beautiful, but challenging, terrain in the Southeast.

Runners with 12-member teams will divvy the course up in 36 legs, with each runner completing three legs. The legs range from 2.5 miles to 10 miles, and from easy to very difficult indeed.

Why do it?

“Because I like to run for fun. And this sounds like fun,” said Melissa Pennscott, a marketing manager at Nantahala Outdoor Center who, since October, has been putting in about 20 miles a week on the trails as a runner. “It’s getting back to nature and enjoying the scenery.”

SEE ALSO: Map of the race

The Nantahala Outdoor Center put together a team that includes Pennscott to participate in the relay, which is modeled on the famous Hood to Coast relay in the Pacific Northwest. The race founder, Jim Brendle, lives in Medford, Ore., but has family connections to Swain County, which resulted in him staging the first relay here last year.

“We did it with a skeleton crew, 48 runners,” Brendle said, adding there are 120 runners signed up this year.

Teams use vans to shuttle each other to various places along the course, taking turns resting, eating and running. It will take 24 to 34 hours to complete the course.

“This is a total team experience,” he said. “Everybody hurts together, everybody stinks together.”

That’s one of the reasons Leigh Boike, manager of guest relations for Nantahala Outdoor Center, became interested in participating — and, of course, because the race is actually going to finish up where she works.

“It kind of snowballed from there,” Boike said, admitting she’s a little nervous about the upcoming race. “It is definitely going to be a challenge.”

Food, drinks and live music at the Pourover Pub at the Nantahala Outdoor Center will cap the race’s finish. Racers also will find amenities such as hot showers, on-site restaurants and lodging, and the opportunity for an ice-cold bathing experience in the Nantahala River.

Trail running takes off

Once upon a time and not particularly very long ago, trail running in Western North Carolina was a fringe sport at best.

Hitting the trails instead of roads served as a refuge for longtime runners who couldn’t bear to give up their morning jogs but whose knees and joints simply couldn’t take the pounding anymore of feet-on-pavement. For other road-racing runners, trail running was a nice, scenic method of getting in some strengthening exercises. But in the main, serious runners primarily steered clear of focusing on trail running, afraid that while running off-road would indeed make them stronger, it might also make them slower.

No more. These days, trail running has burgeoned into WNC’s outdoor sport de jour. Some runners do nothing now but run on trails, avoiding road running altogether. Others, such as Brad Dodson of Haywood County, continue to enjoy both pavement and trails — Dodson, in fact, is currently training for one of the world’s premier road races, the Boston Marathon, set for April 15. He finds trail running complements his road racing.

ALSO: A mountain Assault: Black Rock Trail Race to aid Community Table

Dodson, 43, said he finds it much easier to run for three hours on trails than to put in, say, 20 miles on pavement.

“Running on pavement is really hard on your body, especially as you get older,” the former college track runner said.

Not to mention, Dodson added, the sheer meditative quality of running in the woods.

“All my life I’ve been looking at a clock and worrying about time while running,” he said. “Trail running is less about the time, more about just being out there — and it’s about enjoying being in the woods.”

 

A new business niche for region

Even the Nantahala Outdoor Center, the area’s biggest and oldest river-raft company, is getting into the act of trail running. NOC is working now on improving a series of trails behind the business’ main headquarters in the Nantahala Gorge in Swain County, with the plan of hosting a series of trail races in the future. Additionally, walk (or run) into the outfitters’ store and you’ll discover a recently added complete line of trail-running gear — from trail-running specific shoes to handheld water bottles.

“We got many requests to add those, from a lot of customers who wanted trail-running items,” said Lauren Dieterich, a trail runner herself and a member of NOC’s marketing department.

The outfitting company also has teamed with nearby Fontana Village to hold back-to-back trail runs Oct. 29-30, “to give people a whole weekend of trail running,” said Charles Conner, the company’s marketing department director.

The demand for trail races is definitely growing, Conner said, which is what prompted NOC to focus on improving the trails nearby the center and to team with Fontana Village. By improving its system of trails, NOC will be able to hold a race and offer perks runners enjoy after a hard slog in the woods — showers, maybe a live band playing music and more.

Conner said there are about five or six miles of trail available to NOC now, and that the trails can be connected into loops. Plus a few more miles of trails might be added on as well.

In May, the trail-running community will converge on NOC via the 2011 Smoky Mountain Relay, a running event that starts in North Mills River and ends at NOC in Wesser. This is the second year NOC has been a relay sponsor.

Runners will cover 205 miles of trails, forest service and rural roads. Teams of 12 runners each will cover the course in 36 sections, with each runner completing three sections of 2.5- to 10-miles each.

Ain’t no mountain high enough: 2007 Blue Ridge Relay challenges local runners through two states and two days of sun, sweat and cheers

By Michael Beadle

Several Western North Carolina running teams recently concluded the 208-mile Blue Ridge Relay Race from Grayson Highlands State Park in Virginia to downtown Asheville. About 600 runners from 48 teams ran the third annual race from Friday morning, Sept. 7, to Saturday afternoon, Sept. 8.

At the starting line: New running group gathers momentum in Haywood County

By Michael Beadle

Running can be a lonely sport. It’s hard finding someone who has a similar pace, someone who runs when you do, someone who can get you through those tough, uphill climbs.

Going the distance: Elite runner Jason Bodnar sets his sights on Olympic Trials

By Michael Beadle

The marathon can be such a fickle race.

As much as you prepare for it, a lot can go wrong in those 26.2 miles. Missing a water station. Getting a blister. Maybe there’s a sudden downpour of rain or it’s an abnormally hot day. So much running and preparation builds into a matter of hours. And then disaster strikes.

24 hours of running

By Michael Beadle

At first it seemed like madness.

Why else would anyone freely submit to running 15 to 25 miles up and down steep mountain roads and trails over a 24-hour period?

Little did I know what I was getting into when some fellow runners approached me at a 5K race and asked if I wanted to sign up for the Blue Ridge Relay, one of the longest-running races of its kind in the country.

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