The Mountains are Calling!
In less than 12 hours, over 200 teams from across the Southeast will begin the grueling 208 mile journey from Grayson Highlands State Park in Virginia to Asheville North Carolina in what is known as the Blue Ridge Relay! They will run day and night with over 38,000 feet of elevation change through some of western North Carolina’s most beautiful views and vistas.
In what has become the most well known rivalry of the relay, the Charlotte Running Club Men’s Elite team will challenge co-favorite, the Asheville Running Collective in the annual “battle for the belt” for the title of the best distance runners in the state.
Asheville looks to avenge last year’s devastating losses in both the Relay and Charlotte’s Winter Classic 8k Championship in January, while the Charlotte team will look to take back and defeat the relay record of 19 hours, 12 minutes, and 3 seconds over the 200+ mile course (an average pace of 5:35/mile). This is the equivalent of running from downtown Charlotte to Wrightsville beach in less than 20 hours… except for uphill the entire way.
But that’s not the rivalry we want to talk about.
There are few fights as old as time. Good vs Evil, North Carolina vs Duke, Rocky vs Creed, Celtic vs Rangers, Cady Heron vs Regina George, and the most passionate rivalry of all… JITFO vs Stache and Dash.
Once Blue Ridge teammates, Allen Strickland and Rob Ducsay (both Charlotte Running Club Board members) split ways in 2012. Only the two men know the whole story, but rumor says it has to do with management discrepancies over their original team.
In 2013 both men started their own squads of runners, selecting the very best men and women across the Charlotte region to compete in the Blue Ridge Relay mixed division. Stache and Dash won, but the rivalry continued with the trophy jug being passed back and forth for half a decade.
As Charlotte and Charlotte Running Club grew, the teams got faster and the rivalry became even more bitter. The teams routinely finished first and second in the mixed division of the relay every year. Soon, Allen Created a second team, “Lil Jitty” and the men were now more coaches than competitors on teams with members faster than they were.
Things changed in 2018, though, as Asheville brought a competitive team of their own. Both JITFO and Stache and Dash were beaten soundly by over an hour! Asheville completed the course in 21:59:56, less than two minutes shy of the Charlotte Running Club’s 2010 mixed course record. Asheville vowed to come back the following year and take the record in 2019.
Later that year at Triple C Brewery, the two men came together. Like Billy Hoyle and Sidney Dean before them, they put aside their differences and focused on what they had in common… running, a love of craft beer, fast blonde women (the two men’s better halves and teammates are now faster than they are) and the desire to be the best Blue Ridge Relay mixed team on the planet.
This year JITFO and Stache and Dash are no longer. The two men have joined forces to create the StacheFO CRC mixed super-team and StacheFO Fun team (also extremely fast, but more fun than the super-team). The two men will hand over the reins to former teammates and compete in the Mix Masters division on a team of their own.
Later this evening at Triple C, a few of the team members will meet to talk logistics and the rosters will be revealed. We’ll follow up with the full rosters and bios and follow all 4 teams along the way.
by Franklin Keathley