Help us support the guide dogs this weekend!

Run through Biltmore Forest raises money for guide dogs

Paul Clark, Citizen-Times correspondent 7:59 p.m. EDT September 29, 2014

Run the Forest Run 5K 10-26-13 203.JPG

(Photo: Special to the Citizen-Times )

A run through Biltmore Forest in fall is like a walk in the park, beautiful and relaxing. And during the Run the Forest 5K and Fitness Event on Saturday, participants will have the opportunity to do some good for the sight impaired.

Hosted by Asheville Eye Associates, the family-friendly community wellness event is a fundraiser for Guide Dog Foundation for the Blind, which provides free guide dogs to people all over the U.S. It costs more than $50,000 to train a guide dog, the foundation states on its website,

Sanctioned by the U.S. Track and Field Association, the Run the Forest 5K will be on the same route that racers ran on during last year’s inaugural event.

Parking for the race start and finish, as well as for the fitness event, is at Carolina Day School, 1345 Hendersonville Road. Prizes will be awarded for top female and top male in age categories 15 and under, 16-19, 20-29, 30-39, 40-49, 50-59, 60-69, 70-79 and 80 and older. The first 300 registered runners are guaranteed a race T-shirt.

The race route is beautiful, starting on Stuyvesant Road and taking in Southwood, Brookside, Hilltop and Greenwood roads, said Katy Farlow, Asheville Eye Associates director of marketing. It passes Biltmore Forest Country Club and Brooklawn Park (some of last year’s participants saw deer and turkey).

The course has gradual inclines and declines and long stretches of flat road. There will be a water station halfway through. Every so often, there will be what Farlow called “cheering stations” staffed with race volunteers to cheer the runners on and make sure they’re staying on course.

The fitness event will test anyone, no matter how fit (or less than fit) they are, she said. It will encompass as many rounds as they can do, in 10 minutes, of eight reps of raising a medicine ball to shoulder height (with squat) and 12 burpee box step-overs and jumps, punctuated by two 30-meter runs.

Men in the beginner fitness level will use a 30-pound medicine ball, while women and children will use a 10-pound ball (the box heights will vary appropriately, also). At the advanced level, the balls and boxes are heavier and higher for men and women (there is no children’s category at the advanced level).

If they like, partners can split the stations of the fitness event, one doing some and the other doing the rest. It doesn’t matter how fit any of the participants are; this event is for everyone, Farlow stressed. The fitness event will include a fun zone with inflatable activities for younger kids, as well as music and food.

This is the second year for the race, which attracted more than 330 people from all over Western North Carolina last year. Runners ranged in age from 5 to in their 80s, Farlow said.

Asheville Eye Associates has held several fundraisers over the years for various causes. Several years ago, it held one to raise money for the Susan G. Komen for the Cure breast cancer foundation. A few years ago, it decided to make vision-related causes the beneficiaries of its fundraising events.

Last year’s race, held on a chilly late October morning, benefited a local nonprofit, The Low Vision Center.

A 5K event was a popular choice among staff members at Asheville Eye Associates, many of whom are runners, Farlow said. Many others have been involved with Relay for Life, so fitness was already high on people’s minds there, she said.

“Wellness is a big thing with our practice and staff,” she said.

Dr. Jeffrey Goldstein there suggested the Guide Dog Foundation for the Blind as this year’s beneficiary, Farlow said. He and his family helped raise a guide dog puppy, Rudy. From time to time, Rudy would come to the office. The staff loved him.

Rudy made it through the final stages of guide dog training and is now matched with a human partner in Manhattan who takes care of his disabled parents.

“So this program touches a lot of lives,” Farlow said.

Farlow is a novice runner who has done a few 5Ks and has run through Biltmore Forest.

“The scenery is just so pretty,” she said. “There are beautiful parks and all the evergreen trees. It’s very peaceful. With fall coming on, hopefully, the colors will just start to come out a bit” for the race.

Everyone will go away with race bags that contain water bottles, eyeglass cleaner and clothes and gift certificates. But more importantly, they’ll leave with a feeling of having done something for a good cause while getting a great start to a fall Saturday morning, Farlow said.

“Everyone is welcome,” she said.


What: Run the Forest 5K and Fitness Event.

When: 9 a.m. (race), 10:30 a.m. (fitness event) Oct. 4.

Where: Biltmore Forest, starting at Carolina Day School, 1345 Hendersonville Road.

Cost: $34.99 for 5K, $29.99 for Fitness Event, $44.99 for both.