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Annual Hunger Hike to benefit Second Harvest

By Brad Hicks

While only the top three finishers will receive prizes, everyone who completes the race will be rewarded with an unbeatable view and with the knowledge that their participation was for a good cause.

Pre-registration for the Town of Unicoi’s 4th annual Pinnacle Trail Challenge and Hunger Hike is now underway.

The event will take place beginning at 8:30 a.m. on Oct. 1. From the town’s Visitors Information Center, participants in the Pinnacle Trail Challenge will make the approximately 5-mile run to the Pinnacle Fire Tower atop Buffalo Mountain.

Participants can pre-register through Sept. 28 at or through the State of Franklin Track Club at

Pre-registration for the Pinnacle Trail Challenge portion of the event is $25. Runners may also register on the day of the race, when the entry fee will be $35.

The male and female racers finishing first will receive $100 in prize money. The male and female runners finishing second will receive $75, and the two runners finishing third will receive $50.

All registered participants will receive a T-shirt, post-race snacks and the opportunity to win door prizes.

All registration fees for the Pinnacle Trail Challenge go to the Second Harvest Food Bank of Northeast Tennessee, a member of Feeding America.

Those looking to reach the Fire Tower at a more leisurely pace may take part in the Hunger Hike portion of the event, which will begin from the Visitors Information Center at 9 a.m. on Oct. 1.

There is no fee to participate in the Hunger Hike, but participants are asked to bring canned foods which will be donated to the Second Harvest Food Bank of Northeast Tennessee.

Town of Unicoi Alderman Jeff Linville said the event has grown each year since its inception, from 12 Pinnacle Trail Challenge participants the first year to 26 last year. Last year, runners were faced with inclement weather, and a plane crash on Buffalo Mountain the night before the race led to the rerouting of the course.

“Everything considered, it went very well,” Linville said of last year’s race.

Last year’s Pinnacle Trail Challenge raised $645 for Second Harvest, and Hunger Hike participants donated more than 600 pounds of canned food. Linville said Second Harvest was pleased with the results, adding that this year’s donations could eclipse last year’s numbers.

“This year is beginning to look like it may be the year that we finally get some big numbers,” Linville said. “It’s really looking good right now, a lot of interest in it.”

The Pinnacle Trail Challenge and Hunger Hike is sponsored by the Town of Unicoi, Roadrunner Markets, the U.S. Forest Service, Mountain Commerce Bank and the Unicoi Business Alliance. Organizers are still looking for other sponsors.

For more information on the Pinnacle Trail Challenge and Hunger Hike, visit or contact the Town of Unicoi at 735-0317 or Linville at 220-9821.