Welcome to the website of The Bear Race held each year during the Grandfather Mountain Highland Games, one of the largest Scottish Games in the world.

2020 Bear Race Canceled

The 2020 Grandfather Mountain Highland Games has been cancelled for 2020.  Since The Bear Race is part of the Games that includes us.  We will be fully refunding all paid entries for the race.  This will happen within the next few days beginning April 28th.  We will begin planning for the 2021 Bear in August.  We will send out information to the current entries (actual entry and waitlist) and post on this website once those plans are complete.  Please be safe!

We ask that you read through this website before entering so you are aware of the challenge of the race as well as the challenges of race logistics, including lodging and parking.


The Bear Race proceeds will go to various charities in the area and the ASU Track Program. Thank you and on behalf of our sponsor Zap Endurance, we look forward to seeing you up at the top after a Bear of a run!


ZAP Fitness Foundation (ZAP), founded in 2001, is a non-profit training center for post-collegiate, Olympic hopeful distance runners. Its founders Andy Palmer and his wife Zika developed the program as a way to give back to the sport of distance running, a sport that played a significant role in both their lives.

Learn more about ZAP Endurance.

The Race

The Bear race begins in Linville, NC at the corner of Hwy 105 and 221. The race turns right off Highway 221 and winds up steep climbs to McRae Meadows, where the Games are held. It cuts across Highway 221 and up the backside of the Highland Games Track to the Grandfather Road where you run the final 2 miles up 1000 feet of elevation gain.

Your views are breathtaking, especially as you round the famous “Forrest Gump” hairpin turn. You will finish at the top of Grandfather Mountain (over 5000 foot elevation) where you will be greeted by hundreds of fans who are waiting anxiously for their runner and the last runner.

This unique 5-mile race will provide challenges that are overcome by the rewards. It is not a race for individuals planning to walk the entire course. We must have everyone off the finish line area by 9:00 pm so we encourage and expect running and maybe some walking! We will pick you up from the course if you are projected to finish after 8:30 pm.


Are you interested in running? Registration for the 2021 Bear Race in early 2021. Please do not try to access registration before 7:00 am. If there is an error with the registration system, please restart the registration process. You may need to clear your web browser cache.

We can’t run a race without volunteers. Find out how you can help us before, during and after the race by contacting John Weaver at weaverjt@appstate.edu.