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Students, faculty and members of the Lynchburg community gathered at Camp Hydeaway on the brisk fall morning of October 9 with one goal in mind — the finish line.
The Deep Hollow Half-Marathon and 5k kicked off the Liberty Mountain Trail Series with more than 200 runners participating.
The blast of a foghorn interrupted the silence of the cool morning. Cheered on by family and friends, 114 half-marathon runners began the race, followed 15 minutes later by 97 5k runners.
Some participants took advantage of the race as a great way to spend time with family and loved ones.
Jordan Miller is a LU Online student who ran the half-marathon with his sisters and dad.
“My sisters and dad both are runners, so it’s a family event. All of us have done basically every race in Lynchburg this past year,” Miller said.
Lynchburg resident Paula DiCenzo ran the 5k while her husband did the half marathon. The two of them did the Liberty Mountain Trail Series 5-miler last year and have been checking the Student Activities page for more races that they could do. She said that having her family at the race was extra motivation.
“We just started doing it a year ago and we signed up because we like trail running. My kids were waiting for me at the finish line so I wanted to get back as soon as I could,” DiCenzo said.
Many of the participants found that running with a group helped them to stay motivated.
“I wanted to run most of it and it helps when there are people around you. You want to just go with the group and finish with everyone, not be the last straggler to cross the finish line,” Liberty alumna Emily Franks said.
DiCenzo said she enjoyed running with a group better than doing it on her own.
“It makes you push yourself to run harder when there’s somebody in front of you because you want to catch up with them,” DiCenzo said.
Despite having an arm in a sling, senior Justin Elliot was one of the first people to finish the half-marathon. Elliot said that the encouragement of other runners helped him keep going.
“What motivated me the most were the other runners who said, ‘Oh, you’re running with a sling? That’s awesome, good job.’ That really brought my spirits up when I was out there,” Elliot said.
Elliot said he is avid runner, and he did not want to miss this opportunity to run, even though his arm was injured. He said he had to mentally prepare himself for how different it would be to run with one arm in a sling.
“I was pumping my body with just one arm instead of two and it was definitely more difficult going up the hills. I didn’t have as much momentum, but I was able to push through it,” Elliot said.
Whether they had one arm to work with or two, almost all the runners of both trails said that the most challenging parts were running the hills.
Tim Smith was the first 5k runner to cross the finish line. Smith has previous running experience but agrees that the trail’s hills were difficult.
“The hills were the most challenging because it’s a mental thing. It’s physically challenging to push past the pain of getting up the hill,” Smith said. “I like the atmosphere of being around other runners and just getting into shape is something that’s fun to do, (as is) seeing the progress that you’ve made from all your other runs and hard work.”
Franks said that having to run the hills at the beginning was hard but it helped make the end of the trail easier.
“I had no idea that the whole first part was basically uphill, so on the way downhill it was perfect and the momentum kept you going. If I had known it was all uphill, I probably would have been more mentally prepared,” Franks said.
The 5k runners were able to replenish themselves halfway through the race at an aid station at the Snowflex Centre. There were four aid stations throughout the 13.1-mile trail for half-marathon runners to rest and get drinks. Refreshments such as coffee, fruit and bagels were also available at Camp Hydeaway for runners to enjoy after they finished the race.
At the end of the event, runners were awarded medals and T-shirts. Plaques were given out to the top three overall winners of the half-marathon and 5k, as well as the top three age group winners in each event.
Smith said that more than winning a prize, he came to the event because he loves to run and to experience the environment at races.
The next race in the Liberty Mountain Trail series is the Valley View 5-Miler Trail Race, which will take place in November. For more information or to sign up, contact Student Activities at email@example.com.
Abraham is a feature reporter.