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NWA gears up for 38th annual Hogeye Marathon & Relays

story by Brittany Ransom
bransom@thecitywire.com

The Hogeye Marathon has become an annual springtime tradition in Northwest Arkansas, and thousands from around the state and nation are gearing up to take part in 38th annual event on March 29-30.

"Tradition RUNS deep!" is the Hogeye's slogan and it is that tradition that has helped make the event one of the largest and the oldest continuous running marathons in Arkansas. Activities span over two days and include several athletic events, as well as a pasta dinner, health expo, and award presentations.

The Hogeye is comprised of a number of races including activities for kids, walkers, amateur runners, and even the most advanced athletes. Festivities get underway on Saturday (March 29) with the Kids Marathon and Junior Run, which will kick-off at 2 p.m. at the Kohl's store in Fayetteville. Finishers will receive a t-shirt, medal and goody bag.

The main events, including the marathon (26.2 miles), half-marathon (13.1 miles), four-person marathon relay, 5K (3.1 miles), and one-mile "fun walk," will take place on Sunday (March 30). The marathon, half-marathon, and relay will begin at 7:30 a.m., followed by the 5k and fun walk at 7:40 a.m. Events will begin in the Fayetteville Square, with the finish line located in the Walton Arts Center Parking Lot on Dickson Street.

In addition to the kids events on Saturday, the famous Hogeye Pasta Dinner and Runners Expo will also be held. The expo will take place from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. at the Chancellor Hotel and will feature runner supplies, apparel, and other race related booths. Registration and packet pick-up will also be located across from the expo.

The Pasta Dinner will follow from 6-8 p.m. at the Chancellor Hotel. Acclaimed author,  running champion, and motivational speaker Dick Beardsley will serve as the special guest presenter. Tickets for the dinner are $20 and can be picked up at the expo.

Festivities will conclude on Sunday (March 30), with the Finish Line Festival and individual awards ceremonies. The festival will include music, vendors, massages and other activities for all participants. Each race will host a short awards ceremony following the event's completion, where overall winners will be recognized. Finishers medals will be presented to all marathon, half-marathon, and relay finishers. The awards tent will be set up in the Walton Arts Center parking lot, adjacent to the finish line.

Established in 1977, the original Hogeye started at the University of Arkansas and tracked to the small town of Hogeye and back to the U of A. Over time, the course was adjusted to make it more runner-friendly and cover the more scenic areas of Fayetteville.

The Hogeye Marathon & Relays, Inc. is a non-profit organization, coordinated by volunteers, that strives to "give back to the Northwest Arkansas community, while promoting healthy lifestyles through running." Every year, proceeds from the event are used to benefit a number of area charities. In 2013, the event raised $39,700 and organizers are looking to up that to at least $40,000 this year.

"Over the last three years, proceeds have supported  the Jackson Graves Foundation, Kendrick Fincher Memorial Foundation, Meals on Wheels, American Wheelchair Mission, and  7Hills Homeless," said Tabby Holmes, Hogeye Race Director.

The race has grown in recent years, with approximately 2,000 participants in 2012 and more than 2,400 in 2013. The event draws athletes from across the United States.

"There are runners coming in from all over the country, over 30 states and Canada, plus hundreds of runners from across Arkansas," said Holmes. The event serves as a qualifier for larger races, including the Boston Marathon.

Although organizers have the races down to a science, the event can't happen without the help of volunteers.

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"We need more than 350 volunteers in order to keep this a safe race," said Holmes.

Help is needed in the areas of registration, traffic control, refreshment distribution, aid stations, finish line and at the awards ceremonies. No prior experience is needed, but volunteers must complete a registration form to participate. All volunteers will be scheduled for three-hour shifts.

Individuals not able to participate in the event, but who want to donate, can do so online. Participants may also register online. A complete schedule of events is available, along with a list of registration fees and rates. For more information, participants may email the organization under the "Contact Us" tab.

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