King of the Mountain: One-mile race at Snowflex has runners go through an uphill battle

Students, faculty and Lynchburg residents headed toward the starting line at the King of Mountain Race under clear skies with a brisk breeze in the air. Each participant knew that the finish was only a mile away. 

However, there was one obstacle standing in their way: the “psycho path.” This was the defining literal uphill battle that even the most experienced of runners in the race dread.

The King of the Mountain race at Snowflex on Saturday, March 4 at 11:35 a.m. started out nice and easy with a downhill run directly following the start. Once runners turned the corner, the path goes straight up to the top of the mountain all the way until the end. Runners were met at the end with cheers from their family, friends and workers from the host of the event, Liberty Campus Rec’s Outdoor Recreation.

With more than 100 participants, the race began at the bottom of the lodge at Snowflex, headed down Falwell Road and finished at the very top of the mountain above the slopes. 

Cole Schwartz, the runner who came in first place in the male 14-19 age group, fought to beat his time from last year, completing the race in just over seven minutes. One of the first runners to finish was Brandon Potra, a senior pre-law student at Liberty who said that while the race was difficult, it was well worth it.

“The hardest part was after you took a left on ‘psycho path.’ There’s this part where everyone started walking because it literally went straight up,” Potra said. “I was going faster walking than running. … Running is just a great way to stay healthy, have community and have fun at the same time.”

The King of the Mountain Race is the last race in the Campus Recreation trail series. Kathryn Ward, the assistant director of outdoor adventure for Campus Recreation, said that there are quite a few series finishers, meaning runners that have run all five races in the trail series. While it is the shortest race out of the series, it is also the only one that is completely uphill. 

“It’s a great community, especially because we’re open to the public as well as the Liberty community so you get to meet a lot of fun people with all the same common interest: running,” Ward said. “With that alone, you get to meet a lot of really cool people.”

Ward said that a couple she knows met at one of their trail races and eventually got married and now have a child. There’s another regular older couple who consistently wears matching tennis shoes for each race.

“It just gives you a sense of accomplishment, like you did this race whether it’s our half-marathon in October or the one-miler,” Ward said. “And you’re done first thing in the morning. You started your day off with a race and you think, ‘Wow, look at me go — I can kill the rest of my day.’”

While the King of the Mountain Race is the last race in the trail series, there are still many events designed to help the Liberty community and greater Lynchburg area enjoy the great outdoors, including rock wall events and a sunset hike. To find out more about these events and others, visit their website.

Lechner is the social media and web manager for the Liberty Champion. Follow her on Twitter

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