Runners compete in WCU half marathon

The inaugural Valley of the Lilies Half Marathon concluded Sunday, April 3, at Western Carolina University with a turnout far beyond what race organizers had originally hoped.

Jennifer Bell of Brasstown was the first place women's finisher in the WCU Valley of the Lilies Half Marathon on April 3 in Cullowhee.

Jennifer Bell of Brasstown was the first place women’s finisher in the WCU Valley of the Lilies Half Marathon on April 3 in Cullowhee.

In all, 188 people registered for the race, with 164 finishing the 13.1-mile course that took runners on a scenic journey through the Cullowhee Valley and along the Tuckaseigee River before winding back onto the campus for the finish.

“We’re ecstatic about the turnout. When we began planning the race, we expected about 50 people to participate,” said Angie Hagstrom Frederick, a race organizer and WCU’s director of Campus Recreation and Wellness.

The first place male winner was Robert Martinez, 17, of Clayton, N.C., with a time of 1:24:31. The first place female winner was Jennifer Bell, 37, of Brasstown, N.C., with a time of 1:35:57. The male winner in the masters category (40 and older) was Bradley Knops, 43, of Highlands, N.C., with a time of 1:33:30. The female winner in the masters category was Julie Richards, 44, of Bryson City, N.C., with a time of 1:37:51.

The race raised more than $7,000 in support of professional development opportunities for students.

Campus Recreation and Wellness along with WCU’s School of Health Sciences hosted the half marathon. Faculty and students in the fields of injury prevention, nutrition and health provided information and assistance to runners through a free 10-week training program and volunteered on race day.

Robert Martinez of Clayton was the men's overall race winner.

Robert Martinez of Clayton was the men’s overall race winner.

Race organizers plan for the Valley of the Lilies Half Marathon to be an annual happening. Their wish is for the event to become a “destination race” that will lure athletes from outside Western North Carolina to spend a spring weekend in the area, said Ashley Long, race organizing committee co-chair and assistant professor for WCU’s athletic training program.

The WCU campus is located in the heart of the Southern Appalachian Mountains and is a short drive from the Blue Ridge Parkway, Great Smoky Mountains National Park, and Cherokee, home of the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians.

Race results and more information about the Valley of the Lilies Half Marathon are available at A Flickr gallery of race photos is available here.

 Race results for the 2011 Valley of the Lilies Half Marathon

(Please note that overall winners were not included among respective age group winners.)

Overall winners

First place male: Robert Martinez, 17, Clayton, N.C., 1:24:31

First place female: Jennifer Bell, 37, Brasstown, N.C., 1:35:57

Masters (40 and older) male: Bradley Knops, 43, Highlands, N.C., 1:33:30

Masters (40 and older) female: Julie Richards, 44, Bryson City, N.C., 1:37:51

Winners by age group

60 and older, male

First: Robert Whiting, 60, Weaverville, N.C., 1:47:36

Second: Andrew Smith, 61, Whittier, N.C., 1:54:57

Third: Dan Greene, 62, Athens, Ga., 1:56:22

60 and older, female

First: Robin Hinshaw, 61, Franklin, N.C., 2:31:54

50-59 years, male

First: Jesse Warren, 53, Asheville, N.C., 1:34:43

Second: Charles Woodard, 54, Sylva, N.C., 1:41:02

Third: Randall Holcombe, 51, Cullowhee, N.C., 1:47:51

50-59 years, female

First: Robin Tanner, 50, Atlanta, 1:45:26

Second: Patricia Lord, 51, Sylva, N.C., 1:55:48

Third: Sheila Beeker, 54, Lincolnton, N.C., 2:01:34

40-49 years, male

First: James Scifers, 42, Webster, N.C., 1:34:47

Second: Brian Burgess, 41, Whittier, N.C., 1:41:07

Third: John Tomlinson, 46, Greenville, S.C., 1:41:10

40-49 years, female

First: Lisa Ashe, 44, Sylva, N.C., 1:51:50

Second: Nancy Brown, 41, Rosman, N.C., 1:53:23

Third: Shannon Slater, 41, Hendersonville, N.C., 1:54:21

30-39 years, male

First: David Badger, 31, Murphy, N.C., 1:32:37

Second: Paul Roderick, 39, Savannah, Ga., 1:38:55

Third: Dustin Wilson, 33, Concord, N.C., 1:39:17

30-39 years, female

First: Ann Fletchall, 32, Whittier, N.C., 1:41:39

Second: Jessica Shirley, 32, Hendersonville, N.C., 1:46:02

Third: Jenny Holloway, 30, Asheville, N.C., 1:49:02

20-29 years, male

First: Michael Hughston, 24, Cullowhee, N.C., 1:31:34

Second: Jesse Ramirez, 23, Cherokee, N.C., 1:35:47

Third: Jorge Canuto, 22, Durham, N.C., 1:39:04

20-29 years, female

First: Lindsay Wright, 28, Franklin, N.C., 1:42:46

Second: Erin Leonard, 24, Cullowhee, N.C., 1:43:06

Third: Tracy Dickery, 26, Franklin, N.C., 1:45:42

19 years and younger, male

First: Sean Botzenhart, 18, Moyock, N.C., 1:36:56

Second: Daniel Carr, 18, Cullowhee, N.C., 2:00:32

Third: Zackary Rogers, 18, Asheboro, N.C., 2:10:56

19 years and younger, female

First: Michelle Provost, 18, Sylva, N.C., 1:41:30

Second: Ashley Coke, 18, Summerville, S.C., 2:06:08

Third: Olivia Belk, 19, Cullowhee, N.C., 2:20:09