|Runners start the Deep Hollow Half Marathon on Oct. 17 during Liberty's Alumni Weekend.|
Winners have been announced for the first-ever Liberty Mountain Trail Series — four races covering 27.4 miles of mountainous terrain on the Liberty University campus.
Sarah Gahagan and Jordan Whitlock took first place in the women’s and men’s overall categories respectively, thanks to their combined times in the four LMTS races — the Deep Hollow Half Marathon & 5K, the Valley View Five Miler, the Candlers Mountain 5K, and the Bald Mountain 10K.
Liberty’s Student Activities Office created the trail series so LU students and members of the Lynchburg community would have opportunities to explore the 65 miles of hiking, biking and walking trails that make up the Liberty Mountain trail system. The courses take runners around various scenic areas on Liberty Mountain, including Lake Hydaway and the Liberty Mountain Snowflex Centre.
In its inaugural year, the series had 437 participants.
“I was really excited that there were a lot of people who participated for the first time who wouldn’t ordinarily have explored the trails,” said Josh Yeoman, trail series coordinator.
The top three overall runners and the top masters category (40-plus) runners were recently recognized for their achievements with a plaque, while Gahagan and Whitlock received running jackets. Individuals who competed in all four races received a commemorative finisher’s track bag with LMTS logo.
“There isn’t an ‘easy’ race, so to finish any of the races is a great accomplishment,” Yeoman said.
Although the Deep Hollow Half Marathon has existed since 2006, the other three races in the series were new this year. To design the new courses, Yeoman and the Student Activities Office staff would first map out the projected course on the computer with GPS software. Yeoman would then run the course with a GPS-enabled watch to ensure that the map’s mileage was fairly accurate, make any adjustments necessary to the course, and then run it again with a measuring wheel to ensure that the mileage was exact.
Yeoman said although loop courses are more difficult to design than out-and-back courses, they are “more interesting and enjoyable for the runner.”
Next year Yeoman and other race coordinators hope to involve local charities in the events, and may add a full marathon to the series. More information about the race series and registration can be found at www.ultimatelu.com.
1 Sarah Gahagan 25
2 Amy Talmadge 30
3 Rachel Valliere 24
1 Jordan Whitlock 22
2 Darrell Wargo 41
3 Nathan Carroll 21
1 Nancy Blackwell 56
1 Jeff Webster 50