Scores ride or run in 2018 Tour de Cashiers
By Don Richeson / Staff
CASHIERS -- While Tropical Storm Florence lashed eastern North Carolina, the skies remained mostly blue in Cashiers early Saturday morning as participants in the 26th annual Tour de Cashiers pedaled onward. The event is known for its untimed, non-competitive staggered group bicycle rides of 25, 62 and 100 miles. Traveling mostly on roads across the picturesque mountain landscape of southern Jackson County, the event showcases the area’s beauty. This year’s event was dedicated to founder Clark Moore of Cashiers, who passed away earlier this year at 99.
It was the first-ever Tour De Cashiers offered in September. Traditionally the event has been in May.
Top 5K finishers
It was also the first-ever Tour de Cashiers to feature a 5K foot race. Canty Worley of Highlands won first place in the 3.1-mile road race through Cashiers with a time of 19 minutes and 43 seconds. “I’m very excited,” Worley said following his win. He added that although he is a regular 5K participant, this was his first-ever overall win, though he has won in his age category before. He said he trains with a running group called the Highlands Road Runners, running 35 to 40 miles a week and said he plans to defend his top winner title next year.
Gustavo Perez of Franklin captured second place with a time of 22 minutes, 12 seconds. Lindsay Lane of Greenville, South Carolina was the top female finisher, with a time of 22 minutes, 46 seconds. A Cashiers 12 year old, Marley Ruth Metcalf, was the second fastest female finisher, coming in at 26 minutes, 36 seconds.
Nearly 300 register
Two-hundred-and-sixty-eight people registered to participate in this year’s Tour de Cashiers, according to organizers, but likely fewer than that actually participated. There were 224 registered cyclists and 44 registered runners.
Organizers, participants pleased
“I’m very excited with our inaugural Tour de Cashiers in September and our inaugural 5K,” Stephanie Edwards, executive director of the Cashiers Area Chamber of Commerce, told the Crossroads Chronicle. The event is a chamber fundraiser. Edwards also noted that this year the Tour de Cashiers partnered with the evening’s Baldaroo Music Festival in Sapphire, a Boys and Girls Club of the Plateau fundraiser. She said the newly launched 5K road race will return next year and she hopes a special mountain bike course will be added for participants who prefer off-road mountain biking to road biking.
“It was a successful day and the weather was excellent,” said Tony Hammett, director of Atlanta’s Peak Racing Events, which managed the Tour de Cashiers for the Cashiers Area Chamber of Commerce. “The runners and cyclists seemed to have a great time and enjoyed the day. Some of the feedback we received was how they loved the move from a spring event to September, how well the courses were marked and the overall organization of the weekend. The cyclists also told us how thankful they were for the support vehicles on-course, safety officers and rest stop aid stations.”
This was the first year Hammett oversaw the Tour de Cashiers, although he said he’s been putting on similar bicycle events across the southeast for the past 10 years.
“I thought it was fantastic,” said a Tour de Cashiers 5K participant, Cashiers resident Becky McKee, who said the course was very well-marked and organized. She said as things stand now, it is the only 5K or any big road race event for runners offered all year in southern Jackson County.
Two separate bike crashes
There were two bicycle crashes during Saturday’s Tour de Cashiers, according to Glenville-Cashiers Rescue Squad-EMS Director Jeremy Stewart. In the more serious case, a bicycle ran off Bee Tree Road and its rider was taken by ambulance to Harris Regional Hospital in Sylva. In a second separate incident, another bicycle rider also ran off the course on one of the roads, but was still able to pedal the damaged bicycle back to the finish area. Stewart didn’t have the riders’ names or conditions or know why they ran off the roadway. However, he said he didn’t think the injuries were serious.
For a special gallery of Chronicle photos from the 2018 Tour de Cashiers, visit https://donricheson.smugmug.com/Tour-de-Cashiers-2018/i-dZ84G5X/A.
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