Olympian Culley to headline Bluegrass Half Marathon pre-race event


JOHNSON CITY, Tenn. – Last year Julie Culley was racing in the 5,000-meter finals on the track in the London Olympics. This weekend she’ll be sharing her running wisdom at the Bluegrass Half Marathon.

Culley will be the featured guest at the pre-race pasta dinner Saturday, Sept. 21, from 5-7 p.m. at The Millennium Centre on State of Franklin Road. It is scheduled at the end of the half marathon race expo and packet pick-up being held from 1-6 p.m. at Millennium Centre. The Bluegrass Half Marathon is scheduled for Sunday, Sept. 22, starting at 7:30 a.m.

The pasta dinner is open to the public and the cost is $25 per person. This year’s half marathon is a fundraiser for Niswonger Children’s Hospital, so proceeds from the dinner are going to a good cause.

“I’m really excited to visit East Tennessee to be a part of the Bluegrass Half Marathon,” Culley said. “The partnership between the race and the Niswonger Children’s Hospital made it extremely easy to say yes to such a wonderful event.”

While pre-race carbo-loading is common at many distance runs, this event is more than your typical spaghetti dinner. The meal will be provided by Master Chef Jean-Claude Seruga of The Millennium Centre and will offer gluten-free options and multiple toppings and sauces for the pasta. The meal includes a drink, pasta, salad and dessert – and a chance to chat with an Olympic runner. Culley will do a question-and-answer session during the dinner.

She also plans to run the Bluegrass Half Marathon on Saturday, although she won’t be going at it anywhere near her personal record pace – which is 1:13:31, or a 5:37 pace.

Culley, who is sponsored by Asics, has quite a running resume. She won the 2012 U.S. Olympic Trials for 5,000 meters and finished 14th in the 2012 London Olympic finals. During the qualifying heats in London to reach the final, she ran a personal best of 15:05.38.

Her running expertise stretches from the 1,500 meters (4:13.18) to the half marathon. She has represented Team USA in the World Indoor 3,000 meters, the World Outdoor 5,000 meters and the World Cross Country Championships.

She was an All-American at Rutgers. Culley’s local connection is her sports agent, Chris Layne of Total Sports Management, based in Johnson City. He is a former East Tennessee State University sprinter and is head track and field coach at Milligan College.

To purchase tickets for the pasta dinner, call Mountain States Foundation at 423-302-3131. For more information on the race, visit www.Bluegrasshalfmarathon.com.


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