LINVILLE — Almost 400 runners gathered to compete in the 50th running of the Grandfather Mountain Marathon on Saturday.
Boone resident Caleb Masland, 36, won the marathon with a finishing time of two hours and 53 minutes. The 26.2-mile run begins at Kidd Brewer Stadium on the campus of Appalachian State and finishes at the base of Grandfather Mountain. The race features an elevation climb of 1,267 feet.
Masland is a very experienced runner and even has his own coaching program where he coaches other long distance runners to improve their times.
“I really love this race. It has a special place in my heart. Even when it’s really hard, I love it, and I guarantee I’ll be back next year,” Masland said.
This was his third time running in the event, and all three times, he has won. Masland’s previous two victories were in 2014 and 2015.
Second place went to Matt Longworth, 36, of Wadesboro with a time of 3:07 and third place went to Caleb Critcher, 33, of Deep Gap with a time of 3:09.
On the women’s side, Suzanne Hutchins, 37, of Gastonia repeated as the top female finisher, crossing the line in 3:13. This was her fifth time running in the event and is a race that she looks forward to each year.
“It’s the course. I enjoy the nature and beauty of it, but it was hard. It was a very hard and warm day,” said Hutchins.
The second place female runner was Mary Michaels, 33, of Moody, Ala. Her finishing time of 3:25 was made even more impressive since she has only been running in marathon-style events for a little over a year.
“I started running late, but it’s never too late to start. Running is my hobby, but animals are my passion,” said Michaels, who spends most of her days as a veterinarian technician.
There were 376 runners that signed up to compete in the 50th Grandfather Mountain Marathon, according to race director Jim Deni.
“That’s a great number for a marathon,” he said, “and we’re ranked within the top 25 marathons in the country. This is such a special event, to have a marathon as part of a highland games for 50 years consecutively. You know, we never had to cancel it. Even with bad weather, we’d sometimes got to the meadows, and there wasn’t a tent standing, but we still finished.”
Nathan Ham can be reached at 336-489-3062.