Citing the logistical nightmare that accompanies the annual Jack Daniel’s World Championship Barbecue — which is scheduled for the same weekend — council members decided it would be in the best interest of the Ragnar Relay, the annual barbecue festival and the community if the relay didn’t pass through Moore County this year.
The relay’s website bills the 200-mile race as “country music, Honky Tonk Row and a course designed for the ultimate adventure.” The event begins in Chattanooga and wraps up in Nashville, taking place during the day and at night.
Unfortunately for event organizers, the relay’s website reads, “After the hills, you will move on to the ‘stills, as you pass through historic Lynchburg.”
However, Metro Moore County officials suggested that the route move to the north, possibly taking U.S. Route 41 through Manchester instead.
Though race director Jesse Regan was not present, relay official Leslie Keener was on hand Monday night with a proposal to use Motlow College as a primary stop, as well as Chestnut Ridge Baptist Church and Raysville Church. The Motlow College stop, which was reportedly already cleared with school officials there, was planned to replace the relay’s typical stop at Moore County High School.
The high school, however, couldn’t be used due to commitments with the barbecue festival.
After a motion to approve the relay led to a 6-6 deadlocked vote among the council members present, the council heard further input from EMA director Jason Deal, Moore County Chief Deputy Robin Holt and EMS director Jackie Burton.
All three voiced concerns over safety and expressed their unease due to a shortage of staff on that specific weekend.
A motion was made for a second vote and the council voted not to approve the event. Chair pro tem Marty Copeland asked county attorney John T. Bobo if the event could take place without the council’s consent because it would be on public roads, and Bobo responded that relay officials would still have to compete under guidelines set forth by local law enforcement.
One of the key concerns of county officials, as well as emergency personnel, was the safe crossing by runners near the intersection of state Route 55 and Ledfords Mill Rd, which is the entrance to Motlow College.
The Ragnar Relay promotes races in some of the most scenic locations throughout the United States. Along with the Chattanooga to Nashville relay, there are events in the Napa Valley (San Francisco to Calistoga, Calif.); the Adirondacks (Saratoga Springs to Lake Placid, N.Y.); Washington, D.C. (Cumberland, Md., to Washington D.C.); Las Vegas (Lee Canyon, Nev., to Lake Las Vegas); the Florida Keys, Cape Cod and southern California.
The relay “brings together runners of all abilities to conquer the challenge of 200 miles, as teams of 12.”
The race was scheduled to pass through Moore County between 9 p.m. Oct. 25 and 3 a.m. on Oct. 26.
—By ROBERT HOLMAN, MCN Editor & Publisher