Wild Trails Executive Director,Randy Whorton, says his favorite events in the upcoming RiverRocks 9-day outdoor trials are the trail-running races that wrap the festival, at the beginning and end.
Whorton, who is on the RiverRocks board says each year they try to diversify the competitions so there will be something for everyone. There are more trail races this year—a mother/daughter and father/son race—and a free daily Discovery Run.
RiverRocks begins on October 1st with the Stump Jump race taking off at Signal Mountain Middle School and connecting over to the Prentice Cooper State Forest. Although this is one of the more technical trails in the race, it is not for experts only. Last year (2010) over 800 runners, from intermediate to advanced, took part in the race during RiverRocks, exceeding all expectations. It’s one of the largest 50k runs in the country.
“But it’s hard to beat Stringers Ridge,” says Whorton. “We have a wilderness right here within the city limits of Chattanooga and I guarantee not another city in the country can say that.” Stringers Ridge will be the scene on the second weekend for the urban Nature 10k run, a hybrid race where half is on roadway and the other half is on the trail. This corporate-sponsored event is great for almost any adult runner. Whorton believes it gets people comfortable with the trail—that’s all part of RiverRocks philosophy. Since RiverRocks started last year (2010), trail use is up on Stringers Ridge, say planners, and the scenic beauty of the elevation is often a surprise to newcomers.
“We have 54 trail heads within 30 minutes of the city,” adds Whorton, who runs many of them with his wife, Kris. “Boulder, Colorado isn’t even close.” They should know—the Whortons moved from Boulder to Huntsville, Alabama 13 years ago. They have lived in Chattanooga since 2005. The couple’s goals are to help protect the trails and public lands, to encourage people to get out and explore the wilderness, hoping that they will fall in love with their natural surroundings and the sport of trail running. When she isn’t on the trail, Kris teaches English Composition and Literature at the university of Tennessee at Chattanooga.
Before joining Wild Trails full time, as its executive director, Randy operated an environmental company involved in commercial landscaping—doing Ecopaving, community gardens and green rooftops. A former springboard diver, Whorton is comfortable participating in sports from rock climbing to road biking to playing golf.
Wild Trails is the organizer of the Rock Creek Trail Series and the Triple Crown Bouldering Series. All proceeds from these races go to the maintenance and protection of many local trails in the Chattanooga area.
This article was originally published in the 2011 August/September Issue.