By allowing ads to appear on this site, you support the local businesses who, in turn, support local journalism.
Runners brave heat for Viola Valley Half Marathon
James Clark photos-McMinnville resident Jimmy Martin, No. 446, might hope to catch an updraft with this airplane maneuver Saturday during the sixth annual Viola Valley Half Marathon.

Runner’s World columnist Marc Parent once claimed “Talkers talk and walkers walk. Although walkers occasionally talk, talkers almost never walk, and they certainly don’t run half marathons.”
Local residents competing in the sixth annual Viola Valley Half Marathon let their times do their talking Saturday as runners from New York to Texas competed. Some of the top times came from folks who didn’t have to travel across the country to get here.
“It was a little different conditions this year than in years past,” said Viola Valley Half Marathon organizer John Nunley. “It has been in the mid-to-high 50s in years’ past. We used to start at 8 a.m. but changed that to 7 a.m. due to the heat, and it was even hotter this year.”
“We took extra precautions by setting up more water stations throughout the course and had a medical tent midway through and at the end of the race,” said Nunley. “We only had three runners not complete the race and no major issues.”
The water stations were manned by volunteers and some exceptional ones who compete for best water station in the event. Nunley said a group consisting of Marine Corps veterans did one water station and came in third, vowing to come back next year they had so much fun.
“We’re constantly looking for ways to improve,” Nunley said. “We do surveys online and have seen some good reviews come in so far.”
According to Nunley, the run has been gaining in participation and attention over the last couple of years and organizers are working with even more groups to become part of a larger group of races. With folks coming from all over, the Viola race can get even more fame by becoming part of larger races as a lot of participants come from as far away as Australia to compete at some events.
“We had a runner last year who entered an event at Opry Mills who was from Australia,” Nunley said. “She asked if there was a train from Nashville to Viola. I told her if she made it to Nashville, we would get her to Viola.”
While McMinnville resident Anne Myers took top honors in the female overall finisher with a time of 1:42:33, local gals had the 30-34 age category locked down with McMinnville residents Sarah Hoover in first with a time of 1:56:52, Becky Childs in third with 2:08:19, and Laura Hildreth in fourth with 2:10:18.
Emily Graves was first in the 35-39 age group at 1:56:19 and Shannon Andrews was eighth at 2:18:36 and Stephanie Johnson took ninth at 2:27:42.
In the 40-44 age group, Myra Jackson took fifth at 2:27:07 and Melinda Martin seventh at 2:31:51. Tammy Panter ran away with fifth place in the 45-49 category at 2:36:06 and Rhonda Galligan took fifth in the 50-54 group at 2:26:40. All the aforementioned ladies are McMinnville residents.
For the gentlemen, Morrison’s Bradley Covert was first in the 18 and under age group at 2:29:58 and McMinnville’s Elijah Patterson took fourth with 2:50:27.
McMinnville’s John Turner was third in the 19-24 group with 2:06:58. Morrison’s Mickey Ralph was first at  1:28:00, and McMinnville’s Ben Myers second in the 35-39 category at 1:34:01.

Local residents overall standings in the
Viola Valley Half Marathon by time:


Anne Myers McMinnville 1:42:33
Emily Graves McMinnville 1:56:19
Sarah Hoover McMinnville 1:56:52
Tia Medley Morrison 1:59:43
Becky Childs McMinnville 2:08:19
Laura Hildreth McMinnville 2:10:18
Shannon Andrews McMinnville 2:18:36
Rhonda Galligan McMinnville 2:26:40
Myra Jackson McMinnville 2:27:07
Stephanie Johnson McMinnville 2:27:42
Melinda Martin McMinnville 2:31:51
Tammy Panter McMinnville 2:36:06
Barbara Weller McMinnville 2:38:01
Kimberly Caten McMinnville 2:38:18
Julia Rhoady McMinnville 2:42:43
Becky Clark McMinnville 3:10:51
Leslie Hayes McMinnville 3:10:51
Jordan Cleek McMinnville 3:50:07

Mickey Ralph Morrison 1:28:00
Ben Myers McMinnville 1:34:01
Jimmy Martin McMinnville 1:55:21
Chris Panter McMinnville 2:03:16
John Turner McMinnville 2:06:58
Paul Walker Morrison 2:19:00
Scott Reagan McMinnville 2:22:01
Jarvis Johnson McMinnville 2:27:38
Bradley Covert Morrison 2:29:58
Justin Caten McMinnville 2:38:18
Elijah Patterson McMinnville 2:50:27
Scott Hertwig McMinnville 2:57:11