Staff photo by Allison Potter
Competitors in the Quintiles Wrightsville Beach Marathon run through Mayfaire on Sunday morning, March 17.
The fourth annual Quintiles Wrightsville Beach Marathon was held Sunday, March 17. More than 3,000 competitors made up both the half and full marathon. Runners from as far as California traveled to Wilmington for the event.
Due to ongoing construction on the Heide Trask Drawbridge, this year the race was run in three waves, with the first wave beginning the race at 6:15 a.m. By 8 a.m. the -half-mar-a-thon runners began crossing the finish line, and were greeted by spectators lining the final stretch of the race in Mayfaire Town Center. An announcer called out each runner’s name and hometown as he or she finished, having some difficulty as the athletes came down the chute in packs of four or five.
Once across the finish line, runners exhibited a wide array of emotions. Some hooted and pumped their fists, some just smiled and others winced or limped. A feeling of accomplishment, however, was evident in everyone’s demeanor. Running a half marathon (13.1 miles), or the especially daunting full marathon (26.2 miles) would leave anyone with an immense feeling of pride. As it were, these competitors had something else to feel good about: The Quintiles Wrightsville Beach Marathon benefits both the Landfall Foundation as well as the Multiple Myeloma Research Foundation.
This year the winner, finishing the full mara-thon with a time of 2:33:20, was 24-year-old Mark Hopely of Lynchburg, Va. Unlike many of his competitors, this was Hopely’s first official marathon. Showing few signs of the fatigue one would expect from someone who just ran a full marathon, Hopely said he normally runs about 85 miles per week. In anticipation of the race, he said he increased that to 100 miles per week, with at least one day including an uninterrupted 20-mile run.
Organizer Tom Clifford was very excited about the day overall. “It’s a good, positive community event. I would like to thank the Town of Wrightsville Beach, the city of Wilmington and its public transportation, all our volunteers as well as those people not part of the event for dealing with road closures. I’d also like to thank all the people who came from out of the state for the event, my amazing crew and all of the volunteers for their support,” he said.
The top three finishers for the half marathon were Nate Ayers of High Point, N.C.; Aaron Grigs of New Bern, N.C.; and Dan Bedard of Cary, N.C.
The top three places for the full marathon were Mark Hopely of Lynchburg, Va; Jordan Desilelets of Pinckney, Mich; and Jack Brunecz of Fayetteville, N.C.