The Mountain Fork Half Marathon is a 13.6-mile race that starts and finishes at the High Knob Observation Tower in Wise County.
The race loops through the scenic Mountain Fork watershed, primarily on Forest Service roads, before finishing back at the High Knob Observation Tower.
The High Knob Observation Tower stands atop the highest point in the Cumberland Mountains and is located on the Jefferson National Forest’s Clinch Ranger District. High Knob’s elevation rests at 4,200 feet. Five states can be seen from the tower’s platform, including a 360-degree view of peaks as far away as the Great Smoky Mountains National Park and West Virginia.
The second annual Mountain Fork Half Marathon will be held Sunday, September 19, 2021. All race proceeds benefit ongoing trail development and maintenance on the Flag Rock Area Trails system in the City of Norton’s Flag Rock Recreation Area and on High Knob.
See www.facebook.com/mtnforkhalf for race updates.
The Mountain Fork Half Marathon is a 13.6-mile race that begins at the High Knob Observation Tower on the Jefferson National Forest’s Clinch Ranger District. The elevation is approximately 4,200 feet above sea level at the race starting line in the parking lot below the tower.
Course Directions: Runners head down the paved High Knob Observation Tower approach road. Turn left onto the paved Forest Road 238.
Travel a half mile on Forest Road 238 before turning left again onto State Route 619.
Travel State Route 619 almost 1.7 miles before turning left onto Forest Road 704.
Travel Forest Road 704 for 5.5 miles before transitioning onto State Route 706.
Travel State Route 706 for just under 0.4 miles and turn left at junction for Forest Road 238/Robin Road/Robinson Road.
Travel Forest Road 238 for 5.2 miles back to High Knob Observation Tower approach road.
Make a slight left onto approach road and climb .15 miles to the finish line.
Total Elevation Gain: 2,024 feet.
See https://www.mapmyrun.com/routes/view/2769769660 for course map.
Race Day 2020
Packet pick-up will be held from 7-8:00 a.m. on September 19, 2021 at the City of Norton’s Reservoir Trailhead located off State Route 619 and three miles above downtown Norton (Driving Directions). Runners will park at the registration site and will then be shuttled by Mountain Empire Older Citizens’ bus service to the start/finish line at the High Knob Observation Tower between 8:00-8:30 a.m. Runners will then be shuttled back to their vehicles after the race. Your race packet will include your race T-shirt, bib/pins, and pre-race snacks and water.
Restroom Facilities: We will have 2-3 portable toilets at the race start/finish line. We will provide hand sanitizer outside the portable toilets.
Race Start: The race begins at 9 a.m. and will start and finish in the High Knob Observation Tower parking area. Runners will be shuttled from the registration site to the race start/finish using Mountain Empire Older Citizens’ bus service. Shuttles will run between 8:00-8:30 a.m. Runners will then be shuttled back to their vehicles after the race. Race day announcements will be held at 8:50 a.m. Total elevation gain for the Mountain Fork Half is 1,600 feet.
The race route is an OPEN course. Please be aware that vehicles will be on the road throughout the race. Please make sure you are as visible as possible — this race includes sharp and blind curves. The finish line will be located in the parking area at the stone steps that approach the tower. We will have a safety vehicle bringing up the rear of the race.
Timing/Finish Line: We will be hand timing this race. We ask that all runners have their bibs on display as they cross the finish line.
Awards will be presented to the top three men and women overall winners and the overall masters man and woman (age 40 and up). We will also have age group awards for the top three men and women in the following categories: 29 and under; 30-39; 40-49; 50-59; and 60 and over. We will also have finisher medals for all runners that cross the finish line.
Aid Stations: We will have aid stations located at approximately the 2.3-, 5-, 7.8-, and 11.5-mile markers.
Time limit: All runners must complete the course by 1 p.m.