Varmint Half Marathon & 5K

Saturday, June 11, 2016 • Burkes Garden, VA • Course Map

One of Virginia’s smaller half marathon events, the Varmint Half Marathon & 5K usually welcomes more than 200 runners each year for the 13.1-mile and the 5K races combined, for a race that runs through Burkes Garden Community Center.

The race that takes participants on a loop course through the valley between two mountains in this part of the state’s Appalachian Mountains known to locals as “God’s Thumbprint,” with plenty of trees and farmland along the side of the road during the race and the green, misty mountaintops in the distance.

The out-and-back race, which starts and finishes at the Burkes Garden Community Center on Burkes Garden Road, got its name from a story that’s been passed down for generations in this small community that sits about 3,000 feet above sea level, the highest valley in Virginia.

Decades ago, a coyote had run loose in the town, killing local villagers’ sheep and causing thousands of dollars in damage to gardens and property.

Reportedly, big-game hunters were called in from out of town to assist in the hunt for the “varmint,” as the creature came to be known, and they finally succeeded in hunting down and killing what turned out to be a large coyote.

The “varmint” (the name stuck) was later stuffed and put on display in a local museum, and the awards for the half-marathon — as well as the male and female overall winners of the 5K race — bear the likeness of the sheep it hunted today.

Runners who feel up to the challenge of this race need to be ready for both a high-elevation run and plenty of sun — sunscreen, sunglasses and a good protective hat are all must-haves — as past years have seen plenty of sunny, warm weather throughout the event.

The course follows a counter-clockwise loop along paved country roads, starting at the community center on Burkes Garden Road and turning on East End Road — where runners encounter the hillest stretch of the race — and then Banks Mill Road and Gose Mill Road before heading back onto Burkes Garden Road.

Just before the last mile or so of the race, there’s a quick out-and-back detour onto Litz Lane, and then it’s on to the finish line.

Race Weather & Climate

Nestled in a valley among the Appalachian Mountains in southwestern Virginia, Burkes Garden typically sees some of its wettest weather of the year in June, a month that has brought record temperatures here as low as 29 degrees (in 1988) and as high as 89 degrees in 1988).

On race day (June 11), the average low is 52ºF and the average high is 74ºF.

Past Results

Course Map

See the race route map for the Varmint Half Marathon here.

Starting Time

  • 6:30 AM – half marathon (walkers)
  • 8:00 AM – wheelchair start
  • 8:03 AM – half marathon, 5K (runners)


  • $40 for the half marathon, if registered by May 27, 2015
  • $50 between May 28 – June 11


Online registration for this event will open in March 2016. To reserve your spot in the 2016 running of Burkes Garden’s Varmint Half Marathon or 5K race, check the event website regularly.

Official Race Website

Facebook Conversations

Ever run in the Varmint Half Marathon? Share your impressions here, or post your review in the Comments below.

See more races in: June, Virginia

1 comment… add one

  • Terrell Johnson April 14, 2015, 3:03 pm

    Wanted to make sure these comments on the race from the old site didn’t get lost:
    From vicecac, in February 2015: “I hope to do this race in 2015. Burke’s Garden is heaven on earth to me. I love to run, but I love backpacking even more. The Appalachian trail traverses this valley along the crest of the ridge that surrounds it on one side, and seeing it from up there piqued my curiosity. I’ve explored it by car since then and it’s truly an incredible and unique little place.”

    From David Ulrich in May 2013: “This was my first Half Marathon ever and it was awsome! The hills from miles 2~6 are really hard but outside of that its a nice race. I would recommend this race to people looking to have a good time with the entire family because their is a 5k and a kids 1 mile race as well.”

    From Melissa Crisp in May 2011: “Ran the Varmint last year for the first time. It’s rolling hills just like RR. I felt right at home. I remember it was very hot, hydrate, dydrate! I didn’t place, but the “trophies” are little stuffed sheep that a woman from Burke’s Garden actually makes:) “I want a sheep!” they’re adorable.”


Leave a Comment

Email This to a Friend

Email This to a Friend