A frosty spring morning greeted several hundred athletes who gathered on the Western Carolina University campus Saturday (April 6) for the third annual Valley of the Lilies Half Marathon and 5-K.
The chilly conditions at the 8 a.m. half marathon start, however, didn’t keep a WCU graduate student from burning up the 13.1-mile course in the half marathon. Brian Ulrich of Cullowhee, who is studying for his doctorate in the university’s physical therapy program, successfully defended his win from the 2012 WCU half marathon. The 24-year-old beat his nearest competition by almost 12 minutes and won the race with a time of 1:13:05.
Second-place male in the half marathon was Avery Collins of Hampstead, with a time of 1:24:56, followed by David Chandler of Cullowhee in third place with 1:25:55.
The overall top female in the half marathon also picked up her second Valley of the Lilies win. Jennifer Badger, a 39-year-old Marble resident, was the overall female winner in the inaugural WCU half marathon in 2011, and after running in the Valley of the Lilies 5-K last year, Badger returned to the half marathon and bested the other women with a time of 1:36:10. The second-place female overall was Lydia Odell of Brevard with 1:39:11, and in third was Ruth MacNair of Gerton with 1:41:17.
Odell’s finish also was good enough to earn her the female masters (age 40 and up) title. Todd Watson, a Biltmore Lake resident and WCU professor of physical therapy, won his second straight masters title in the half marathon with a time of 1:28:41.
Top honors in the Valley of the Lilies 5-K (3.1 miles) were taken by Abbey Henson of Roan Mountain, Tenn., with a time of 27:30 and Billy Simpson of Woodstock, Ga., with 17:38.
A total of 206 runners registered for this year’s WCU half marathon, and 147 finished. Another 112 runners signed up for the 5-K, with 92 finishing that race. The races were hosted by WCU’s School of Health Sciences and Department of Campus Recreation and Wellness. MedWest Health System was the title sponsor.
Sandy Terhune, race director and associate director of the Department of Campus Recreation and Wellness, said the final tally isn’t in, but it appears this year’s races raised more than $9,000 that will be used to finance professional development opportunities and travel to workshops and conferences for WCU students.
“The event went great, and we received good feedback about the volunteers, the course and the overall atmosphere,” Terhune said. “The half marathon course has been modified for each of the three races and it sounds like this was the favorite course for those who have run the race all three years. We’re hoping to use the same course in future years.
“I want to say thank you to all of our sponsors, volunteers and the race organizing committee,” she said. “This event would not be possible without everyone’s support and hard work.”
For more information about the WCU races, click on http://halfmarathon.wcu.edu.
Full results for the half marathon and 5-K, including age-group winners, are available at the website of Lee Timing.