Athletic training group sets another relay record

Athletic training sophomores (from left) Greylin Cleary, Dalton Greer and Jackson Roper run on the Blue Ridge Parkway during the 2014 Mountain Jug Run for Research.

Athletic training sophomores (from left) Greylin Cleary, Dalton Greer and Jackson Roper run on the Blue Ridge Parkway during the 2014 Mountain Jug Run for Research.

Students and faculty from Western Carolina University’s athletic training program completed their annual 175-mile fundraising relay, the Mountain Jug Run for Research, in record time over the weekend while dealing with rainy conditions.

The group ran a route from Boone to Cullowhee that included 152 miles on the Blue Ridge Parkway. The relay began at 6:11 a.m. Saturday, Oct. 11, from the Appalachian State University football stadium and ended in the rain 27 hours and eight minutes later at WCU’s football stadium. The effort is named after the now-defunct football rivalry between WCU and ASU known as “the Battle for the Old Mountain Jug.”

The time recorded by this year’s group is 17 minutes faster than the mark set by the athletic training runners last year, continuing the tradition of each year’s runners establishing a new record, said James Scifers, WCU professor of athletic training and originator of the relay.

The athletic training group that ran the first Run for Research in 2008 was forced off its planned route on the parkway by an early snowfall, but the contingents completing the relay since 2009 have run the same route that includes 152 parkway miles. The groups alternate running from Cullowhee to Boone, or Boone to Cullowhee, each year.

The time recorded by the athletic training runners in 2009 was 30 hours and 14 minutes, and the times recorded since then are 29:53 in 2010, 29:11 in 2011, 29:09 in 2012, and 27:25 last year, Scifers said.

“This year’s run was outstanding – a real team effort,” Scifers said. “It was definitely the wettest Run for Research yet, but we managed to dodge the thunderstorms along the way.”

The 15 student runners this year were juniors Whittney Correll, Bo Hartman, Kelcey Holcomb and Matt Wronsky and sophomores Greylin Cleary, Elena D’Argenio, Brooke Donaker, Clark Edwards, Floyd Graber, Dalton Greer, Aaron Krofchik, Luke Miller, Jackson Roper, Corey Staub and Cedric Wilkerson. Also running were Scifers; Dr. Randall Provost, a Sylva physician who supervises WCU athletic training students as they complete clinical education requirements; and two athletic training alumni from the class of 2013, Ruby Floyd and Jessica Thiry.

The course was run as a continuous relay, with each of the runners completing five legs in 5-mile increments, and with two or three runners on the road at any given time. The Run for Research is organized each year to raise funds for the National Athletic Trainers’ Association’s Research and Education Foundation, which awards research grants and academic scholarships in the field of sports medicine. Previous relays have raised a total of nearly $21,000.

Donations honoring the efforts of this year’s group are being accepted and may be made in the form of checks, made payable to the NATA-REF, and sent to Jill Manners, WCU Health and Human Sciences Building, Office 362, 4121 Little Savannah Road, Cullowhee, N.C. 28723. All donations to the foundation are tax-deductible.

The tired but satisfied running group gets together at the finish line at WCU's E.J. Whitmire Stadium.

The tired but satisfied running group gets together at the finish line at WCU’s E.J. Whitmire Stadium.