Middle school runners participate in this years run (photo by Elizabeth Troutman)

Runners mark 24th annual White Oak Mountain 3-mile climb

Published 9:16am Monday, October 22, 2012

by Elizabeth Troutman
However challenging the 3-mile trek up White Oak Mountain might be, one could only imagine how rewarding the beautiful climb really is for a runner.
Head Polk County Cross Country Coach Alan Peoples started the run in 1989, and has run it every year since with the exception of this year. Coach Peoples credits his son, Seth Peoples, with the idea of the run. He claims Seth saw a group of bicyclists climbing the switchback roads and thought, why not run it? There is no wonder Seth has since become a high school teacher and cross country coach himself in Greensboro, NC.
Coach Peoples considers the run a “confidence run,” and when the students first start the season as early as July, the coaches begin preparing them for the run. At first, the coach explains, the students may be daunted by the thought of such an accomplishment. Coach Jenny Wolfe further explains, “It is an extraordinary feat for each and every participant and brings our kids and families together like no other event.”
The students’ and coaches’ hard work pays off come the first week of October and they find themselves making the last sharp upward climb to one of Polk County’s most breath-taking views.  Having defeated the grueling road, the students get a confidence boost just two short weeks before conference finals begin.
The run began with just the Men’s Cross Country Team. In year 2000, the Women’s Cross Country Team became included and now there are around 40 participants in the run each year. The high school students also run in a 10-mile path around Lake Summit in Saluda each year, although not scheduled for this season yet.
A local citizen, in memory of her mother, sponsored the run, originally called the “Emmie Run.” Since then, Coach Peoples and his wife have sponsored the run, naming it the “Catheline Run,” in memory of his mother. The sponsorship covers the T-shirts the students and participants receive after completing the run. Coach Peoples has planned a very special T-shirt for next year’s 25th year.
Coach Wolfe expressed this year held its own difficulties and that she was “saddened,” to do the run without Coach Peoples.
“It just wasn’t the same without him,” she said. “However, the White Oak run is “our Cross Country family’s most special day,” and the 24th year of the run was no less special for those who participated.”

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