VALDESE - Elkin junior Brandon Welborn used a strong finish to win The Great Waldensian 5K Footrace in Valdese earlier this month.
An all-state track runner, Welborn ran strong over the last half of the race on the 3.1 mile rolling course to pull away from the rest of the field. Winning by 28 seconds over Devin Foster of Connelly Springs, Welborn’s time of 17:37 on a muggy and wet morning tied his personal best time run earlier in the summer.
The Great Waldensian Footrace is one of the oldest road races in North Carolina, now in its 38th consecutive year. This year’s race drew 237 runners.
On the out and back course, Foster was with Welborn until the turn around when the Elkin junior upped the pace and pulled away.
“Brandon ran a very smart and strong race,” Elkin distance coach Dan Merritt said. “He was to try to stay with whoever was leading, and use his strength to pull away in the last mile. He executed his race strategy perfectly. He is a new to cross country but I think he is going to surprise some people this fall.”
It was the seventh-straight year a runner coached by Merritt has won either the men’s or women’s 5K race.
In addition to Welborn, seven other Elkin runners ran the Valdese race. Freshmen Said Javier and Jacob Parker were first and second in the 14-and-under age group, with times of 18:54 and 20:59, respectively.
Also competing in the age group were freshman Eli Brown and sophomore Aaron Strudivant, who ran 23:40 and 24:30. It was Strudivant’s first 5K and Brown improved two minutes over his last outing.
Competing in the 15-19 year old age group were juniors Seth Haynes, who took home the second-place trophy with a time of 19:24, and Jeremy Pierce, who in his first 5k, ran 21:30.
In the women’s race, sophomore Madeline Carter, an all-state 3200 meter runner, was fourth overall and captured the first-place trophy in the 14-and-under age group with a time of 22:15.
“I am truly proud of how all the kids ran. As cross country begins this was a good preseason race to see where each was in their fitness. Losing a lot to graduation, Elkin’s goal is to work in order to compete for the conference title this fall,” Merritt said.
The Elkin boys cross country team are the defending conference champions, while the girls were runner-ups last fall. The first cross meets will begin in early September.