Graduate students record wins at Valley of the Lilies races

Danielle Metz leads the pack at the start of the Valley of the Lilies 5-K.

Danielle Metz leads the pack at the start of the Valley of the Lilies 5-K.

PHOTO GALLERY

Two Western Carolina University graduate students, Brian Ulrich and Danielle Metz, captured overall wins Saturday (April 5) as more than 300 runners and walkers competed in the fourth annual Valley of the Lilies Half Marathon and 5-K.

Ulrich, a 25-year-old Cullowhee resident who expects to graduate from WCU’s doctoral program in physical therapy in May, won his third straight VOL half marathon (13.1 miles) with a time of 1:15:13. Ulrich was more than 11 minutes ahead of his nearest competitor at the finish line at WCU’s Central Plaza.

The top female finisher in the half marathon was 36-year-old Ginna Reid of Asheville with a time of 1:32:55. Reid also was the top female finisher in the 2012 VOL half marathon. Masters winners (age 40 and above) in the half marathon were Mark Bolyard, 42, of Marble at 1:33:53 and Julie Richards, 47, of Bryson City at 1:37:58.

The half marathon began at 8 a.m. and was followed 15 minutes later by the start of the 5-K (3.1-mile) race. Metz, a 23-year-old from Commack, N.Y., who is enrolled in WCU’s master of arts in teaching program, beat all competitors in that race with a time of 20:36.

Ginna Reid runs along the Tuckaseigee River during the half marathon.

Ginna Reid runs along the Tuckaseigee River during the half marathon.

The top male finisher in the 5-K was Weston Pearson, 24, of Creedmoor, who recorded a time of 21:35. Masters winners in the 5-K were Gael Graham, 55, of Cullowhee at 28:11 and Bryan Kinsey, 44, of Bryson City, who logged a time of 24:35.

A total of 341 runners and walkers registered for the races, with 190 signing up for the half marathon and 151 for the 5K, said Shauna Sage, event co-director and director of WCU’s Department of Campus Recreation and Wellness.

WCU’s School of Health Sciences and Department of Campus Recreation and Wellness hosted the races. Proceeds will be used to assist WCU students with expenses associated with professional development opportunities such as presentations and travel to workshops and conferences.

Complete results from the half marathon and 5-K are posted on the Valley of the Lilies website at http://halfmarathon.wcu.edu.

Brian Ulrich picked up this third straight overall win in the half marathon.

Brian Ulrich picked up this third straight overall win in the half marathon.