Four student runners representing Western Carolina University completed a half marathon held Saturday, March 12, at the Biltmore Estate in Asheville, and other WCU students volunteered during the weekend of events by promoting the March 15 Connect NC bond referendum.
WCU received four free entries for the half marathon as an official sponsor of the Asheville Marathon and Half, which also included a marathon on Sunday, March 13. To determine who would represent the university during the race, a contest was held for interested students in which they explained in 200 words or less why they wanted to participate in the race. A campus committee reviewed the student essays, and four students were chosen to participate.
Three of the students – Austin Teal, Amber Marlowe and Barrett Rokuskie – made it to the start line for the half marathon, but the fourth student was ill the day before the race and could not participate. She was replaced by Shauna Sleight, director of Campus Recreation and Wellness at WCU, who is enrolled in the university’s doctoral program in educational leadership.
Teal is a sophomore majoring in engineering technology, Marlowe is a senior business administration major, and Rokuskie is a sophomore majoring in emergency medical care. Prior to the race, the students had been receiving training tips from Sleight and Mandy Dockendorff, assistant director for fitness and wellness, to help them prepare for the rigors of a 13.1-mile run/walk.
Other WCU students who are part of a public relations class taught by Department of Communication assistant professor Scott Eldredge staffed a booth during the race expo on Friday evening, March 11, and all day Saturday to promote the bond referendum, which was the following Tuesday. “They worked like champs to get the word out about the bond vote,” said Rubae Schoen, director of brand experience in WCU’s Marketing Office.
WCU’s participation in the events didn’t stop there, however, as Schoen teamed with Kae Livsey and Judy Neubrander from WCU’s School of Nursing and three members of the student crew of the Campus Recreation Center in staffing a water station for the half marathon.
WCU’s sponsorship of the races included providing the buffs that all the runners received. To arrange the university’s sponsorship, Schoen collaborated with WCU alumna Mindy Bayless, a representative of iDaph Events, a company in Asheville that organized the Asheville Marathon and Half.