Downhill@Dawn Half Marathon 2021

Ridgecrest Downhill@Dawn Half Marathon 2021

May 29, 2021
 - May 29, 2021

We are excited to announce the return of the Downhill@Dawn Half Marathon for 2021. Ridgecrest Conference Center, nestled in the Blue Ridge Mountains just outside of Asheville, is the starting line for this mostly downhill half marathon that takes runners on a scenic combination of paved and forested gravel roads from Ridgecrest to Old Fort.  Starting at 6:00 AM, runners escape the heat of late May and the crowds of city races.  Capped at only 450 runners to provide a safe racing experience, this race will sell out very quickly.  

Below are additional guidelines and changes that are in compliance with the state of North Carolina and Buncombe and McDowell County regulations regarding COVID-19. A virtual option is also available for those who want to participate but are unable to attend or do not feel comfortable to run in the event. The Downhill@Dusk 5K will not take place this year. 

Event Registration

Online registration for the 2021 race will open on Monday, March 1 at 9:00 AM EST.  
Race Cap: 450

Entry Fees

March 1 – May 27: $80 for In-Person and Virtual Runners

All participants, in-person and virtual, will receive a long-sleeve, tech shirt. All finishers will receive a special finisher award at the finish line.  You must be registered on or before May 12 to guarantee a shirt.

Virtual runners will be mailed their finisher medal and shirt the week after the race.


On-site accommodations at Ridgecrest are $89-$99 per room, per night.  To make reservations for Ridgecrest accommodations please call (800) 588.7222.


May 12, 2021: Last day to guarantee T-shirt size 
May 22, 2021: Last day to switch from Virtual Race to In-Person
May 27, 2021: Last day to register, if not already sold out
May 30, 2021: Last day to turn in virtual results.

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Packet Pickup Drive Thru 

Friday, May 28, Time TBD: Drive thru at Ridgecrest Conference Center. This is your only option for packet pickup.
All passengers in the car must wear a face covering upon reaching the Ridgecrest campus.

Start Procedure: 

Start waves will begin at 6:00 AM. The times for each wave and number of participants will be determined based on the outdoor gathering limitation. Each runner will be assigned a start time. 

Start times will be published here and emailed to participants no later than Sunday, May 23.


Our traditional post-race celebration will not take place this year, including the awards ceremony and shuttle transportation.  Upon reaching the finish line at Old Fort Baptist Church, you will receive your finisher medal and a recovery goody bag with snacks and bottled water. Masks will be required in the finish area. Participants and spectators are asked not to gather or linger.

Please plan to arrange your own transportation after the race. There will be NO shuttle transportation after the race. We will send out parking location options to participants before the race. 

Course Information:

This unique half marathon will wind its way for 13.1 miles around Ridgecrest, North Carolina, down Old Fort Mountain on Old Highway 70, and finish at the First Baptist Church in Old Fort. The first 3 miles, on the pavement, will be out and back starting from Ridgecrest Conference Center. The first 1 ½ miles will be slightly downhill. The return 1 ½ miles will be back uphill to the main campus. Once back at the Ridgecrest campus, runners will be turning to go down Old Fort Mountain.  

The next 10 miles, mostly downhill, will offer the runner three miles on packed dirt and gravel and seven miles on pavement. There will be a couple of places along the course where there will be some gradual uphill grades, but it is primarily a downhill run beginning at an elevation of 2700’ and ending at an elevation of 1600’. 

There will be three refill stations on the course at miles 4, 8 and 12 where participants can refill their own bottles with water or Gatorade. We encourage all runners to be self-sufficient on the course. Volunteers will be available at each station to sanitize and assist. Port-A-Jons will also be provided at these three refill stations.

RRCA and USA Track and Field Certification code for our half marathon is: NC-19010BDS See Certificate here.

Time Limit

All half marathon runners have 3:30 hours to complete the course in order to be provided full police protection and aid station support.

Award Categories

Our traditional awards ceremony will not take place. The procedure for receiving your award will be announced at a later date. Award categories include:

1-3 Male & Female

1-3 Masters Male & Female

1, 2, 3 male and female in the following age brackets:

15 and under, 16-19, 20-24, 25-29, 30-34, 35-39, 40-44, 45-49, 50-54, 55-59, 60-64, 65-69, and 70 and over.


The race will utilize chip timing. Your chips are on your race bib so don’t crinkle them up.


You are responsible for your own transportation. There will be parking at Ridgecrest Conference Center and in Old Fort. Locations will be determined and communicated before the event.  

There will be NO shuttle transportation from the finish line back to Ridgecrest. Please plan accordingly. 


Ridgecrest Conference Center wants Downhill@Dawn to be fun and safe for everyone involved. We are keeping a close eye on restrictions and guidelines and will adjust wave start times, aid stations, etc as needed. In the event, we are unable to host the in-person race, all participants will be automatically converted to the Virtual Race. 

Transfer options:

  • You may transfer to/from the virtual and in-person race anytime before Saturday, May 22. Please do so through your imATHLETE registration.
  • If you are registered for the in-person event and cannot attend, you will automatically be moved to the virtual program. Your swag will be mailed to you after the event and you may submit a virtual half marathon result. There is a NO REFUND Policy.
  • You may transfer your entry to another person by submitting the TRANSFER FORM. The deadline to transfer an entry is Saturday, May 22.


Live, unofficial results will be available throughout the day.  We will provide a link to these here and in the information emailed to runners during race week.  Paper results near the finish area will not be available this year.  Official results will be posted at this site by Sunday, May 30.

Virtual Runner results will be published on the Downhill@Dawn Facebook Page. Virtual results must be submitted by Sunday, May 30. You may submit a time here.  

2019 Downhill at Dawn Overall Results 2019 Downhill at Dawn Age Group Results
2018 Downhill at Dawn Overall Results 2018 Downhill at Dawn Age Group Results
2017 Downhill at Dawn Overall Results 2017 Downhill at Dawn Age Group Results
2016 Downhill at Dawn Overall Results 2016 Downhill at Dawn Age Group Results


All of the volunteers are from the Ridgecrest Conference Center. Please thank them as you make your way through the course.


Please email general race questions to

COVID-19 Guidelines:

COVID-19 has impacted all of our lives. At Ridgecrest, the health and safety of our guests and team members is a top priority. Our staff are continually reviewing applicable safety guidelines and have updated Ridgecrest’s processes and procedures to ensure excellence while minimizing risk. In doing so, we are following guidance from the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the State of North Carolina, and the Buncombe County Department of Health and Human Services, including the 3-W’s:

  • Wear a cloth face covering if you will be with other people. (Bring this with you to Ridgecrest; out of consideration for others, masks are required for all individuals 5 years old and older inside and outside.) “Let each of you look not only to his own interests but also to the interests of others.” Philippians 2:4
  • Wait 6 feet apart. Avoid close contact.
  • Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds or use hand sanitizer.

Downhill@Dawn Half Marathon Guidelines: 

Packet Pickup & Temperature Checks:

  • Drive thru on Friday, May 28, 2021 at Ridgecrest Conference Center.
  • Any guest who exhibits symptoms of COVID-19 or has a temperature over 100  degrees Fahrenheit will be asked to return home immediately and will not be  allowed to race.

Race Volunteers & Staff:

  • Temperature screening upon arrival. Anyone who exhibits symptoms of COVID-19 or has a temperature over 100  degrees Fahrenheit will be asked to return home immediately and will not be   allowed to work until their condition can be further evaluated.
  • Face coverings are required for all volunteers and staff.
  • All team members are given instructions regarding the CDC guidelines and   recommendations. Training will include effective personal hygiene; available  preventative measures; steps to protect themselves, co-workers, and guests; and   cleaning protocols and requirements throughout Ridgecrest.

Starting Line: 

  • Face coverings are required from the time runners leave their vehicle to the time they start the race.  During the race it must be on anytime they are within 10’ of a person not living in their household.  After the race, it should be put back on at the finish line to the time they return to their vehicles.  Face coverings will be provided at the finish line to anyone who loses theirs during the race.
  • Wave start times are based on outdoor gathering limits. Each runner will be assigned a time that will be communicated ahead of time. 
  • We ask that everyone is respectful of spacing, to keep 6’ socially distanced, and limit hugs/high fives.
  • A handwashing station will be provided near the portajohns at the start and the finish.

Aid Stations: 

  • Designed to be a refill station for personal water bottles. 
  • Volunteers will sanitize water and Gatorade dispensers frequently. 
  • We will NOT be passing out cups of water or snacks. 
  • You will be responsible for bringing your own water bottle and needed nutrition during the race. 
  • Hand sanitizers will be provided around the event site, in all portajohns, and at the aid stations

Finish Line: 

  • Each finisher will receive a recovery goody bag with packaged snacks and bottled water. 
  • Masks will be required and participants are encouraged not to gather when finished. 
  • Spectators will not be allowed at the start or finish areas in order to allow the maximum number of runners permitted under the current restrictions.
  • No post-race award ceremony.
  • There will be NO shuttle transportation after the race. Please plan to arrange transportation after the race. 
Downhill at Dawn poster

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