Estate race

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Biltmore-Kiwanis Classic puts Asheville on the map for runners too.

Story and photos by Kasey Jackson
Estate image by Sharpshooter

FROM THE ARCHIVES: The annual Biltmore-Kiwanis 5K/15K Classic will be held in Asheville, North Carolina, on May 20, 2018. In honor of this popular race sponsored by the Kiwanis Club of Asheville, and all the enthusiastic runners out there, Kiwanis magazine takes a look back at our coverage from a few years ago. 

It’s the afternoon before the 17th Annual Biltmore-Kiwanis 5K/15K Classic, and Kiwanis members are streaming in and out of the hotel where runners will register and pick up their packets. T-shirts are being laid out on tables. A Kiwanis banner is hoisted to the roof. Registration forms and information packets are neatly arranged in rows. And a lone runner has shown up an hour early to get in line.

Taz Kicklighter traveled to Asheville, North Carolina, from Cleveland, Tennessee, to run in the 15K with his wife, who also brought her mom along to watch with their children, ages 3 and 1.

“We’re curious about the weather, for sure,” says Kicklighter, mentioning the rain forecast expected for race time. “But we’re definitely excited about the Biltmore. This is the first time my wife and I will run in a longer race together, and we hear this is a really pretty run.”

A bride runs by

Pretty run may be somewhat of an understatement. The annual race, staged by the Kiwanis Club of Asheville, is held on the grounds of the Biltmore Estate, known affectionately as “America’s Largest Home.” The grounds of the estate offer a stunning backdrop for the runners, who travel from all over the country to be part of the event.

“We have 24 states represented in this year’s race,” says Asheville Kiwanis Club member Karon Korp, who serves as an emcee along with her husband during the event. “The interesting thing about this race is that it spans generations. We actually have 17 runners under the age of 9, and our oldest runner is 85. Families come out together. It’s great to see everyone out having such a great time.”

And all the fun is for a great cause, of course. The Biltmore race is the club’s largest fundraiser of the year, netting the club about US$20,000. Proceeds from the race go right back into the community, for causes such as a bike program, backpack project, chess tournament, spelling bee and an ongoing Carolinas District project: the Kiwanis Family Care Center at Mission Hospital’s neonatal intensive care unit.

While the Asheville Kiwanis Club hasn’t been immune to a declining membership, it has seen some growth this past year with several new young professional members.

“Our club manages to do an amazing amount of work for its size,” Korp says. “We are incredibly hands-on. We really like what we do. Our membership is so active and so busy. Our members really care.”

Thompson and the banner

On the morning of the race, the sky over Asheville is not very happy. It’s dark, cold and a slight misty drizzle is steadily streaming down over the estate as runners show up early to stretch, get a feel for the course and snag a good spot at the Start/Finish line. Kiwanis members are busy cutting fruit in the food tent, arranging awards at the emcee booth and answering questions and pointing still-tired runners in the right direction.

It’s race day. And rain or shine, the show must go on.

Emily Turner, a 24-year-old bride-to-be from Charlotte, North Carolina, is huddled under a tent with a group of women, attempting to stay dry. Turner stands out in the crowd a bit, dressed in her white tutu and veil. Despite the cold and rain, she’s all smiles.

“I love this, it’s so beautiful here,” she says, with nods of agreement from her friends and family, aka the wedding party. “When I saw they were having a race here, I had to do it. We’re all going to stick together and make it a good time.”

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