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Liberty athletes take first place in memorial race

April 24, 2012 : By BJ Williams/Liberty University News Service

Left to right, Liberty University athletes Cory Reed, Emily Duff and Blake Williams show their first-place medals following the Angels Race Triathlon in Lynchburg on April 22.

Three Liberty University student-athletes joined more than 300 participants in the popular Angels Race Triathlon in Lynchburg on Sunday to swim, bike and run in honor of friends and loved ones who have passed away.

Liberty triathlete Blake Williams, track and field competitor Cory Reed and swimmer Emily Duff teamed up in the relay category and took first place with a time of 1:05:44.

The event was founded in 2003 by Tim Groover and Jefferson Forest High School cross country coach Jerome Loy in memory of Groover’s daughter, Brittany, who passed away in a car accident in 2002.  The race consists of a 300-meter swim in the pool at the Downtown Lynchburg YMCA, a 25-kilometer bike ride over the James River and into Amherst County and a 5K run through downtown Lynchburg and the Blackwater Creek Trail that finishes at the Lynchburg Community Market.

Duff, a freshman from Clayton, N.C., competed in memory of her grandfather, Sherrill Duff, who passed away about three years ago while Emily was a sophomore at Clayton High School.

Duff said Saturday’s race was different from the races she competes in as a member of Liberty’s NCAA women’s swim team.

“There were a lot of people and when you pass them, it would be a lot different than it would be if you were swimming in your own lane for a 300-meter swim,” she said.

Reed, who returned to Liberty after spending time in the United States Army, had similar feelings about running the 5K.

“In a regular race (around a track), you can judge your pace a lot better,” he said. “We were running the majority of it on the bike path down on Blackwater, so that helped a lot.”

Reed said he was not competing in memory of anyone in particular but wanted to be a good representative of the university during the race.

Williams, who at one point during the bike race topped speeds of 52 miles per hour, was originally going to compete in the race as an individual before his head coach, Beth Frackleton, talked to him about competing as part of the relay.

“It was the first time I had not run all three legs, but it was nice to race the bike leg; it was a nice course, but it did have some tough hills along the James River,” he said.

Duff, Reed and Williams all expressed interest in competing in the race as individuals or in a relay again next year.

Angels Races, supported by the Angels Foundation, are held in different locations around the country. The Lynchburg race will benefit the Brittany Groover Memorial Scholarship Fund and the Karla Bolen Memorial Fund.