One of the newest running clubs in North Carolina is the Chatuge Running Club, which is based in Hayesville, North Carolina, in Clay County, along the Georgia border and very close to Tennessee. It’s the home of Chatuge Dam (pronounced “Shuh-TOOG”) and Chatuge Lake, which provides a nice, flat area for running in contrast to the hillier parts of the area. The running club was founded by Dylan Johnson, a rising high-school senior as his senior project, with the goal of providing opportunities and incentive for more youth to get active in running, and for both advanced and novice runners to have a chance to train together and learn from each other. Way to go, Dylan!
The first project of the Chatuge Running Club was the Light the Night 5k, a Saturday evening run through Clay County Recreational Park adjoining Chatuge Dam and Chatuge Lake. The proceeds raised from the race would be used to help local youth-oriented charities in the area. Runners and walkers were encouraged to wear costumes and wear bracelets and necklaces that would glow in the dark, or carry flashlights and headlights to help light up the night course. It sounded like lots of fun, so I dressed up as a slow runner, grabbed some cheap glow-in-the-dark necklaces, and pointed the tour bus towards Hayesville!
It was great to see that the park was nice and shady and relatively flat after a very hot, humid day in the mountains. There were very nice lake views, plenty of folks out enjoying the post-holiday weekend, and even a greenway leading from the park over through more of the coves and marinas over to the main dam, where it crossed the main wall and met up with visitor parking. From the top of the earthen dam you had a good view of both the main lake, the powerhouse intake with its big “Chatuge” sign, and the mountains of in the distance on both sides. The running club had set up shop in the first main pavilion in the park, and there was plenty of room to park, stretch out, meet the other runners, and even play some Frisbee. (And it was good to see Dave Linn again; Dave was the race director when my dad and I attended the run-and-golf Par-5K in Macon County a couple of years ago.)