Pinnacle Challenge: Buffalo mountain run to benefit food bank

Sue Guinn Legg • Sep 16, 2019 at 3:54 PM

UNICOI — The annual Pinnacle Trail Challenge, a 4.8-mile benefit footrace to the top of Buffalo Mountain, is coming up Saturday, Sept. 28.

Proceeds from the race and its accompanying canned food drive go to Second Harvest Food Bank to help the more than 70,000 people in Northeast Tennessee who struggle with hunger.

A discounted early registration fee of $25 will be available through the end of today, Saturday, Sept. 14, before the entry fee increases to $35 on Sunday.

Unicoi Alderman Jeff Linville, treasurer of the Unicoi Business Alliance, which co-hosts the event with the town of Unicoi, is looking forward to another successful run.

“The community really loves the trail challenge,” Linville said. “I’ve seen residents in their 70s run up this mountain faster than you’d imagine, so it’s definitely an event people really get into.”

The race will begin at 8:30 a.m. at the Pinnacle Fire Tower Trail trailhead located on Powder Hollow Road just off Exit 32 of Interstate 26.

Check-in will begin at 7:30. All pre-registered runners will be guaranteed an event T-shirt, and late entrants will receive shirts while supplies last.

The race will end at the restored fire tower at the top of the mountain, where finishers will be rewarded with panoramic views of the surrounding mountains and the Unicoi County valley dubbed “The Valley Beautiful.”

Runners will then be shuttled down the mountain for refreshments and an awards ceremony at the Unicoi Tourist Information and Visitors Center, located just across the interstate at 106 Unicoi Village Place.

Cash prizes will be awarded to first, second and third place male and female finishers, while division winners will be presented with plaques.

Unicoi Mayor Johnny Lynch said the trail has become a personal challenge for many local runners.

“People like to test themselves against our beautiful Buffalo Mountain,” he said. “This is a race up a 6% grade and it’s previously been done in under 45 minutes. So you better get your running shoes ready.”

Participants and spectators are encouraged to bring canned food donations for the food bank to the visitors center.

More information on the challenge can be found at the Town of Unicoi page on Facebook. Online registration can be completed at bit.ly/PinnacleTrailChallenge.