Racing into Fall: The Cherokee Harvest Half Marathon and 5K + Turkey Strut 5K | Cherokee, NC

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Racing into Fall: The Cherokee Harvest Half Marathon and 5K + Turkey Strut 5K

(Photo of Kituwah Mound by fitbassethounds)

Cherokee in the fall is a thing of beauty; the mountain air gets cool and the leaves shine brightly in brilliant hues. There’s really no better time to take in the scenic beauty on foot, and lucky for walkers and runners of all speeds, there are two not-to-be-missed outdoor events.

Cherokee Harvest Half Marathon and 5K

When: Saturday, October 20, from 6 a.m. to 11:30 a.m.

Where: Acquoni Expo Center, 1501 Acquoni Road, Cherokee, NC 28719

How: Register here


Join us for the return of this great fall race in the heart of the Great Smoky Mountains! This event boasts a generous swag package, picturesque courses, lots of local culture, amazing post-race meals, and a fun awards ceremony. In order to provide the best possible experience for all participants, the race is capped at 450 runners. Register now to secure your spot! The entry fee is $50 for the half marathon now through September 30, going up to $55 in October. The 5K is $30 now through September 30, and $35 in October.

Photo by

Harvest Half Marathon

The race will start and finish in the parking lot of the Acquoni Events Center and the course will take runners through much of Cherokee—including a loop in the Great Smoky Mountain National Park where elk have been sighted! There are six aid stations on the course, located approximately every two miles and each station has a portable toilet. Click here to see the half marathon course map.

There will be a cash purse of $1,600 for the half marathon, with first place male and female runners each getting $400, $200 for second place, and $100 for third. In the masters division (40 and over), the top male and female runners will each receive $100. Special awards will also be presented to the top three male and female finishers for
 overall finishers and first place masters in each race.

All half marathon runners have three hours to complete the course in order to be provided full police protection and aid station support. Race officials will stay with all runners on the course to make sure they arrive to the finish line safely.

Click here for the half marathon event schedule lineup, including packet pickup, parking, and directions.

Photo by Runnertats

Harvest 5K

The 5K starts at 8:15 a.m. and the course takes runners through the heart of Cherokee. Like the Harvest Half Marathon, it starts and finishes in the parking lot of the old Acquoni Events Center. Click here to see the 5K course map. All runners must be registered by October 7 to receive a long-sleeved tech running shirt and as well as a hoody, both in unisex sizing. Each 5K finisher will receive a commemorative finisher award.

Special awards will be presented to the top three male and female finishers for
 overall finishers and first place masters (40 and over) in each race. There will also be age group awards for the first second, and third male and females in each age category.

Click here for the 5K event schedule, and information on packet pickup, parking, and directions.

Photo by pentaxian_tourist

Turkey Strut 5K Walk/Run

When: Saturday, November 17, from 10:30 a.m. to 3 p.m.

Where: Kituwah Farm, 3831 Ela Rd, Bryson City, NC 28713

How: Register here

Contact: Yolanda Saunooke at 828.359.6784

The Turkey Strut 5K Walk/Run offers something for everyone, from seasoned runners to new runners and walkers, too. It’s a great event for the whole family, with special awards given out for age groups 8 and under, 9-12, and 13-16.

The course starts and finishes at the Kituwah Mound, a very special place seven miles outside of downtown Cherokee that is known as the original Cherokee settlement. Kituwah is also called “Cherokee Mother Town,” and is recognized as the place of origin for the Cherokee people, dating back nearly 10,000 years. Click here to see the course map.

The Turkey Strut 5K is hosted by Cherokee Choices, an organization with a mission to promote health and wellness in the Cherokee community, and to reduce obesity and diabetes. Proceeds from the race will go to the Cherokee Braves Booster Club, a community organization that supports all athletes of Cherokee Central Schools. Come out for some fresh air and exercise and support a great organization at the same time!

Registration is only $15 from now until November 13th ($20 after November 13th) and only $5 for children 12 and under and elders 60+. For more information, including directions, go to the Cherokee 5K Turkey Strut event registration page.

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