WCU athletic training students, faculty take on 175-mile relay

The longtime football rivalry between Western Carolina University and Appalachian State University, known as “the Battle for the Old Mountain Jug,” has ceased with ASU leaving the Southern Conference, but a fundraising relay run named after the rivalry and conducted by WCU athletic training students and faculty is continuing.

The WCU group will carry out its fall tradition of running 175 miles of roads between Cullowhee and Boone to raise money for research and student scholarships during the seventh annual Mountain Jug Run for Research.

The contingent will begin the relay at ASU’s football stadium around 6 a.m. Saturday, Oct. 11, and the participants expect to complete their journey at WCU’s E.J. Whitmire Stadium around 9 a.m. Sunday, Oct. 12. In addition to 15 students, the running group will include James Scifers, WCU professor of athletic training and originator of the relay in 2008, and Dr. Randall Provost, a Sylva physician who supervises WCU athletic training students as they complete clinical education requirements. Scifers said several athletic training alumni also may join in the effort.

The course will be 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, Scifers said.

The Run for Research is organized 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. Nearly $21,000 has been raised for the foundation as a result of the previous six relays. Students in WCU’s Athletic Training Program who are not running have been seeking donations in honor of the group’s efforts.

As they begin the relay in Boone, the WCU runners will follow an 8-mile route to the Blue Ridge Parkway. They will be tested by the parkway’s substantial elevation changes for 152 miles before exiting off the scenic road at Balsam for the last 15 miles to Cullowhee.

Scifers said the students began training for the relay in mid-August, just before the start of fall semester classes. “This group is really fast,” he said. “Almost half of this year’s runners completed the relay last year. I anticipate us finishing the relay in about 27 hours, which would be about 25 minutes faster than the record time set by last year’s group.”

The student runners this year are 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.

Donations in honor of the group’s efforts 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 WCU group’s progress during this year’s relay can be followed at the blog http://mountainjugrun.blogspot.com.

Students and faculty members from WCU’s athletic training program run on the Blue Ridge Parkway during the 2013 Mountain Jug Run for Research.

Students and faculty members from WCU’s athletic training program run on the Blue Ridge Parkway during the 2013 Mountain Jug Run for Research.