Race #371 – Valley of the Lilies Half Marathon – Cullowhee, NC – 04/01/17

Held on and around the campus of Western Carolina University, the alma mater of my wife and son Joe, the Valley of the Lilies Half Marathon is now in its eighth year. This was my first time to run the race and the first time we’ve been back to the campus of WCU since Joe graduated 20 years ago. Linda graduated 40 years ago and we spent much of Saturday afternoon walking around the campus with her marveling at the changes that have taken place over the years. It’s a beautiful campus and the race ran through much of the campus twice as well as the mountain roads surrounding the school.


The race is small, with only 125 finishers in the half marathon and another 153 in the 5k. The course is scenic, with a couple of flattish miles along the Tuckaseegee River but almost everything else either uphill or downhill, and the 1,668 feet of elevation gain (as measured by my Garmin) make it one of the most difficult half marathons I’ve run.


There were no finisher medals for the half marathon, but all finishers received a pint glass inscribed with the race name. Nice to get something instead of nothing, but probably the majority of runners would prefer a finishers medal for a half marathon.

With the cost of professional race photos being as much as $30 each, it’s a huge perk when a race provides great photos for free. There are hundreds for this race that are all available for free download on Flickr. I’ll leave a link below.


This was my 98th half marathon — the fourth I’m planning on running out of six over a nine-week period so my 100th can be the one I’m running in Las Vegas on April 29th. It’s not like I get anything for running my 100th in Las Vegas but I thought it would make it more memorable if the 100th would be a special destination race.


Race Number:  371

Race Name:  Valley of the Lilies Half Marathon & 5k

Location:  Cullowhee, North Carolina (Campus of Western Carolina University)

Date:  April 1, 2017

Race Rating:  94

Winners (Top 25):

Course: Scenic course through the WCU campus and roads surrounding the school. Pretty to look at but not easy to run with 1,668 feet of elevation gain.



Weather at Start:  Sunny, 50 degrees, NNW wind at 3 mph, 76% humidity.


Race Results:


Click Here for FREE Race Photos on Flickr


My Stats:

  • Time:  1:48:10
  • Pace:   8:16
  • Age Group:  1 of 7 (60-69 age group)
  • Overall:  24 of 125
  • Average Heart Rate: 159
  • Maximum Heart Race: 172
  • Age Graded Equivalent Time:  1:24:19 (69.24%)


3 – Chip Timing: (3 points if yes)
2 – Starting Mat: (2 points if yes)
5 – Water Stops: (0)none (2)normal (5)extras [Gu, sports drink, etc.]
1 – Course Marking: (0)bad (1)good
4 – Course Scenery: (0-5) 1=bad and 5=fantastic
2 – Mile Markers: (0)poor or none (1)normal (2)with clocks or time called out
2 – Volunteers: (0)too few (2)good
7 – Finish line: (0-9) 0=bad and 9=spectacular!
0 – Certified Course: (0)no (2) yes
2 – Correct Distance: (0)no (2)yes
0 – Partly or fully on unpaved roads: (0)yes (1)no

2 – Cost: (0)expensive (2)reasonable (5)cheap!
3 – Race Day Registration: (0)no (3)yes

2 – Posted online within 24 hours: (0)no (2)yes
1 – Easy to find results: (0)no (1)yes

2 – 3 deep awards: (2)yes (0 for anything less)
0 – 5-year age groups (5 points) (0 for anything less)
0 – 14 and under group (1)
0 – 65+ group (1)
1 – 70+ group (1)
0 – Top Overall M/F: (0)none or first only (2)top 3 or better
2 – Masters Category(40+): (0)no (2)yes
0 – Grand Masters Category (50+): (0)no (3)yes
0 – Senior Grand Masters Category: (0)no (5)yes

2 – Overall Winner Awards: (0)none (2)yes (5)excellent
2 – Age Group Awards: (0)none (2)yes (5)excellent
4 – Door Prizes or Drawing: (0-9)
0 – Finisher Medals for All Finishers: (0)no (3)yes (5)really cool medals

5 – Food for Race Participants: (0-10 with 5 being average)
5 – Entertainment: (0)no (1-9)yes
2 – Finisher times posted after race: (0)no (2)yes

0 – Porta Potties: (0)no (1)limited, long lines (2)plentiful
2 – Indoor Restrooms: (0)no (1)limited, long lines (2)plentiful

2 – T-Shirts: (0)no (2)yes
3 – Design: (1-5)
3 – Material Quality: (1-3)
0 – Discount for no-shirt option: (0)no (2)yes

5 – Professional Photography: (0)no (5)yes
x – Prices: (1)expensive (3)reasonable (5)cheap
10 – Free Photographs (newspaper, etc.): (0)no (1-10)yes

2 – Close to Start: (2)yes (0)no
2 – Close to Finish: (2)yes (0)no
2 – Plenty of spaces: (2)yes (0)no
2 – Free Parking: (2)yes (0)no

0 – Shelter from Inclement Weather (needed or not): (0)no (2)yes
0 – Swag (free socks, water bottles, etc.): (0)no (2)yes, some (5)excellent
0 – Part of race series or Grand Prix: (0)no (2)yes
0 – Kids Fun Run: (0)no (2)yes
x – Miscellaneous not covered above: (-10 to +10)

TOTAL:  94

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