500 Compete In Great Greenbrier River Race
Marlinton, WV – Five hundred athletes competed in the 26th Annual Greenbrier River Race in Marlinton on Saturday. The athletes ran three miles, kayaked four miles and completed the race with a 10-mile bike ride to the finish line at Gazebo Park in Marlinton. Pocahontas County Convention and Visitors Bureau executive director Cara Rose says this year’s race was the biggest in the event’s 26-year history.
“This is the largest number of registrants they’ve ever had,” she said. “The turnout was great. We had 500 racers and each one of those racers brings a family member with them, generally speaking, so, I would estimate 1,000 people in town today.”
The Greenbrier River Trail Association conducts the race, with support from the CVB and other community groups. Rose said the high school tourism club had a tough assignment.
“The event has run quite smoothly today,” she said. “We had, of course, a wave start with the solos, and there are quite a few solos, to start it. Then, the teams started. The rush into the river was exciting. It’s exciting to watch them go down the river and the boat pull-out is exciting. We had our tourism club – most of the tourism club – down there helping them pull out boats. It is probably, number one, the toughest job. It’s also exciting just to see all those boats coming in at the same time and on the river. You can barely see the water. A few club members were telling me that they saw all these boats and they’re backed up and they’re, ‘Holy cow!'”
Jeremy Bartley, of Covington, Virginia, won the men’s solo race and was first overall with a time of 1:28:28. A few minutes after crossing the finish line, the former Concord University runner says he feels good.
“I’m feeling really good,” he said. “One of my goals was to win the Greenbrier. I did this two years ago and came in second to Ray Legg. So, I wanted to come back and redeem that. Unfortunately, he didn’t race today.”
Bartley says river and race course conditions were good.
“Really cold, wet, up until the start,” he said. “It stopped raining right when we started, so, that was good. God blessed us with a good day. The river was pretty good conditions. Not as good as last year, but pretty good conditions.”
Camaraderie among competitors adds to the enjoyment of racing for Bartley.
“I like the adrenaline,” he said. “I like the nerves and the relaxation afterwards. All the people you meet at all these races – if you go to a lot of these races – you see the same people, over and over. You develop friendships and it’s good to see them – maybe once or twice a year – but it’s good to come out and see those people again.”
The winner says the Pocahontas County triathlon is now part of a three-race series.
“I’m on a committee for the Allegheny Highlands Triathlon,” he said. “We contacted the Great greenbrier River Race and asked them this year if they would be a part of our three-race series. So, we got Lexington next week and Allegheny on May 19. This was the first race of the series. Lexington is the second race in the series and then Allegheny wraps it up.”
The Lexington Road Race will be held on May 5 in Lexington, Virginia. The third and final race of the series, the Allegheny Highlands Triathlon, will be held in Clifton Forge, Virginia on May 19. Bartley says the Greenbrier River Race is the most popular in the series.
“Out of the three, this one, the numbers don’t lie,” he said. “There’s about 500 people this year, so this is probably the best one.”
Other winners on Saturday included: Jenette Williams, solo female; Rod Schlemm, solo male master; Carol Talley, solo female master; Haley Ford, solo youth; Team Whitlow, team male; Wicked Fast Mamas, team female; Lexington Strongman and Princess, team coed; Father, Son & Holy Boat, team family and Galactic Geezers, team master.