Third annual Valley of the Lilies race fast approaching

Cody Murgas racing. Photo by: Cody Murgas

Western Carolina University will be holding its third annual Valley of the Lilies half marathon and 5K event on April 6 and welcomes all skill levels. The half marathon will begin at 8 a.m. and the 5K will begin at 8:15 a.m.

Registration is now open and all proceeds go towards assisting WCU students for costs of travel to conferences and professional presentations.  The course chosen is a scenic route and will take runners through the WCU campus and along the Tuckasegee River.

Early registration fees are $20 for the 5K and $40 for the half marathon, after February 28 the prices increase to $25 for the 5K and $60 for the half marathon. The Valley of the Lilies Half Marathon and 5K had a great turn out for its first two years with more than 300 registrants last year.

The WCU School of Health and Sciences and Department of Campus Recreation and Wellness hosts the two races and also have an interest in helping runners feel prepared on race day. For those who have never competed in a race, there is no reason to worry. The WCU athletic training staff has created a training program that is emailed to all registered half marathon runners, with group training runs every Monday, Wednesday and Friday at 6 a.m, and Saturdays at 8 a.m.

Lindsay Atwater is a WCU student and this will be her first half marathon.

“I have been participating in the training program that comes with signing up for the Valley of the Lilies. I have never run a half marathon, but I have run more 5K’s than I can probably count since I ran cross country in high school,” said Atwater.

There is a lot of advice floating around on the internet about how to best prepare for a race, but asking someone who has participated in multiple races is another great way to get insider tips.

“If somebody asked me for advice on training for their first race, I would probably tell them just find a training program. Training programs are very easy to follow and get you to where you need to be on race day. Also, I find it easier to run with a friend at times, especially if you are new at running. Do not be discouraged if friends or anyone else finishes way ahead of you, just be happy that you were able to finish the race,” said Atwater.

Cody Murgas, also a student at WCU, is an avid runner and participates in races regularly.

“My best piece of advice for someone wanting to participate in a race for the first time would be to get ready to hurt and start running as soon as possible. It also is very helpful to run a mock race three to four weeks before the race to see where you stand,” said Murgas.

One thing to also keep in mind when training for the Valley of the Lilies half marathon or 5K is the hills in the area.

“I only did hill repeats first semester last year so I was not as prepared. This year, however I have been doing hill repeats the entire school year so I won’t get hit as hard by the hills,” said Murgas.

Although training can be trying and difficult, running and competing can be a very rewarding experience. It is good to know that there is a lighter aspect to the races and that it is not all sweat and serious competition.

“My favorite part about competing is definitely getting shirts. Sure competition and getting free stuff is nice, but a shirt says “I finished this race because I could,” said Murgas.