34th edition of historic Bele Chere 5k features a new team challenge, spirit and costume contests and enhanced kids’ race

June 18, 2013

Registration continues for one of Asheville’s longest running foot races – the beloved Bele Chere 5K – and organizers aim to make this the best in its 34-year history.

Held this year on Saturday morning, July 27, the Bele Chere 5K presented by Mission Health is expected to draw as many as 2,000 racers from near and far who will run in the morning and enjoy music, art, food and fun the rest of the weekend at Bele Chere – one of the largest outdoor festivals in the Southeast. The 3.1-mile course has been altered slightly this year to remain completely within the festival footprint.

The 2013 race will include a new group challenge competition designed to add an element of fun and frolic to the event.  Anyone can form a four-member team – businesses, organizations, friends, families – and compete for prizes that include the best team spirit and the best-themed costumes. 

“The Bele Chere festival is all about having fun. It’s a celebration of the unique spirit of Asheville, and we want this race to reflect that,” says John Blexrud, president of the Asheville Track Club, an Asheville Chamber member, which produces the race. “We expect to see crazy costumes – the crazier the better. This is a great opportunity for businesses to show their creative side and for co-workers to build camaraderie.”

There will be prizes for the most participation by businesses or organizations and awards for the fastest teams.

The track club, which also produces the Ramble Run 5K/12K in the spring and the Thomas Wolfe 8K in October, is actively seeking volunteers and entertainers for racers and spectators.

“Clowns, jugglers, magicians – you name it – anything to add to the festive atmosphere will make this Bele Chere 5K the most memorable ever,” says Blexrud. “We’re determined to make it absolutely spectacular.”

The celebratory side of the event doesn’t mean the race won’t have its serious side, though, says Blexrud. The USATF-certified course has always attracted top-tier runners from across the mountains and beyond who look forward to the challenge of Asheville’s often hilly downtown streets. Awards will be presented to the top three male and female finishers for Overall, Masters and Grand Masters. Prizes will also be given to the top runners in age-group categories from 12-and-under to 85-and-older.

As an organization that encourages fitness for families through running, Asheville Track Club is also enhancing its Kids Kilometer Fun Run, open to preschoolers and older and their parents.

“A popular feature of Bele Chere in earlier days was a children’s parade that marched through the downtown festival; any child could dress up in a costume and join the parade. We’re taking that idea and applying it to the Fun Run – costumes and all,” says Blexrud. “We’re hoping to see hundreds of youngsters participating.”

Presented by Great Beginnings Pediatric Dentistry and Halderman Orthodontics, the half-mile Fun Run is free of charge. There will be prizes for best costumes and every child will get a finisher’s medal. Custom-designed t-shirts will be available for Fun Run participants for $12 each.

Online registration is available at www.imathlete.com (search “Bele Chere”) for individuals and teams for the 5K as well as for the free children’s Fun Run. The entry fee is $30 through July 26 and $35 on race day. Proceeds benefit The Arc of Buncombe County, a nonprofit organization that supports individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities.

For more information about sponsoring, helping with, or providing entertainment for the race, contact race director Daphne Kirkwood at events@idaph.net.