Runners from 40 states gather for 37th Hogeye Marathon

by The City Wire staff ([email protected]) 126 views 

Nearly 2,000 runners braved the brisk windy conditions Sunday morning (April 14) on the Fayetteville Square for the 37th Hogeye Marathon.

While the race has grown over the years, Hogeye Marathon Director Tabby Holmes said it keeps evolving to include more participants.

“The 5K used to be a race on the side, it’s really grown and now it’s a stand alone race on its own,” Holmes said, “We have recruited marathoners and half-marathoners to come to this race to increase participation.”

The Hogeye also included 850 half-marathon runners, 400 5K runners, 400 relay runners and 600 kid’s marathoners. Children in grades K-5 participated. They had 12 weeks to log 25 miles and the final mile and 2.3 miles were run Saturday, April 13 from the Fayetteville Kohl’s store.

Participants came to the area from 39 states not including Arkansas.

“We’ve worked hard to make it something for everyone. No matter where you are in your running, you can participate,” Hogeye Board Member Angie Grabes said.

Holmes said this is a record-breaking year for the Hogeye. She attributes the growth to a spike in the popularity of running and continued marketing.

“It’s growing and challenging. Technology is helping us. For instance, the 350 volunteers can be organized online,” she said, “We are always thinking about making it better. We have to compete for this race and other events (in the area). Bentonville has a half-marathon on our weekend and that has hurt us.”

For that reason and the competition with Arkansas Razorback baseball and the Walmart FLW tour, the Hogeye will move to the end of March next year.

“I think when we move the race, Fayetteville will see more of an economic impact. Despite no assistance from the Fayetteville Advertising and Promotion Commission, we’ve sold out more than 150 hotel rooms,” Holmes said.

The growth is welcomed but she hopes the race will continue to attract runners from all over the country due to the race’s community feel and charity contributions. This year the event is expected to raise more than $40,000 for various charities. They include 7Hills, Meals on Wheels, The Jackson L. Graves Foundation, Kendrick Fincher Hydration Foundation, and the city trail system.

Another possible reason for the increased numbers is a slightly easier course. Since the start of the marathon in 1977, it’s had a reputation for being tough. The race started on a dare for a dozen runners to start at the University of Arkansas run to Hogeye, Ark., and run back. Only five runners finished.

The course has changed over the years and this year is no exception. For the first time, the race will not finish at the top of the hill on Dickson Street. It will finish at the bottom of the hill. The change is welcome to runners but the reputation of the race still strikes fear in some.

“It was rated as one of the top five hardest marathon courses in the country,” Robert Crouch said, “The trail system is nice. I’m not going to say it’s not challenging but I’ve trained on two-thirds of the course. It’s not overwhelming but it’s not flat.”

Half-marathoner Cathy Bradley was unsure.

“I’m scared about the hills. I’m not trained for the hills. I did Houston half-marathon in January and its flat and Austin in February,” she said.

Holmes said the biggest participation for the race comes from runners in the state.

“It’s a tradition in Arkansas,” said Grabes, “Even though we’ve changed, the name everyone has heard of. You might never win but it’s fulfilling and gives to the community and makes a difference in people’s lives.”

Link here to the Hogeye website for complete race results.