Sign-up under way for WCU half marathon, 5-K

Runners take off at the start of the 2012 Valley of the Lilies Half Marathon on the WCU campus.

Online registration is under way for the third annual Valley of the Lilies Half Marathon and 5-K, which will be held Saturday, April 6, on the campus of Western Carolina University.

The half marathon will begin at 8 a.m. and take runners on a 13.1-mile journey across the WCU campus and along quiet country roads beside the Tuckaseigee River. The 5-K (3.1-mile) race begins at 8:15 a.m.

Big changes from last year are in store for runners who sign up to participate in one of the races, said Sandy Terhune, race director and associate director of WCU’s Department of Campus Recreation and Wellness. The 2013 events will be held on a Saturday, instead of Sunday, and the half marathon route is being revised to allow runners to mostly avoid N.C. 107, the main thoroughfare in the Cullowhee Valley, and to add more mileage along the picturesque Tuckaseigee River, Terhune said.

With the course change, a significant hill on N.C. 107 will be eliminated from the route, but it will be replaced by another “hefty climb” on Old Cullowhee Road that will bring runners back onto the WCU campus, she said. “We are going to help runners embrace the hill, rather than fear it. That last hill will be called the Catamount Climb and there will be some fun and exciting spectators and volunteers at the top to cheer on the runners, and then runners will have a chance to purchase ‘I Survived the Catamount Climb’ shirts at the finish line,” Terhune said.

An addition to the 2013 races will be a “Residence Hall Challenge” for WCU students. Students who live in one of the WCU residence halls can indicate which facility they live in and earn points for their residence hall during online registration. The residence hall group racking up the most points will win a prize.

Packet pickup will be held at WCU’s Campus Recreation Center from 4 to 8 p.m. on both Thursday, April 4, and Friday, April 5. Race day packet pickup will take place from 6:30 to 7:30 a.m. at the recreation center.

Runners will find numerous aid stations with water and sports drink along the route, and mile-markers will help them chart their progress. All registered runners will receive a short-sleeve technical shirt.

A free Valley of the Lilies training program developed by the WCU athletic training staff will be e-mailed to all half marathon and 5-K registrants in December. All the runners and walkers are invited to participate in the program, which will include group runs starting on the WCU campus four mornings each week beginning Monday, Jan. 7. Tracks will be available for both beginner and advanced runners, and experts in the fields of injury prevention, nutrition and health will provide information sessions and assistance to runners and walkers.

WCU’s School of Health Sciences and Department of Campus Recreation and Wellness are hosting the races. MedWest Health System is the title sponsor. Proceeds will be used to assist WCU students with expenses for professional development opportunities such as presentations and travel to workshops and conferences.

Online registration for the half marathon and 5-K is available at Registration fees are $40 for the half marathon and $20 for the 5-K through Thursday, Feb. 28. Beginning Friday, March 1, the fees increase to $60 for the half marathon and $25 for the 5-K. Online registration will close Tuesday, April 2, but race day registration will be available at $80 for the half marathon and $30 for the 5-K.

For more information about the Valley of the Lilies Half Marathon and 5-K, go to Facebook fans also can “like” the WCU Valley of the Lilies Half Marathon and 5-K for race updates and information.