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Thousands swarm Fayetteville for the 38th annual Hogeye marathon weekend

story and photos by Emily Sierzchula
esierzchula@thecitywire.com

Some ran just for fun and a sense of accomplishment; others were serious competitors with jerseys emblazoned with the logos of a sponsor or two. Around 1,700 people participated in Hogeye Marathon events Saturday and Sunday (March 29 and 30), including a half-marathon, 5K run, and fun runs for children and adults.

The event attracted people from all around the country, including the two Oklahomans who won the marathon Sunday: Jonathan Pillow and Elizabeth Cooper, both sponsored by Red Coyote Fitness and Running. The two athletes are training for the Boston Marathon next month.

“I came here to hit the hills to train, and it was a tough course – the hills,” Pillow said.

Former University of Arkansas track and field All-American Pauline Allen broke her own half-marathon master’s state record.

“I’m a Fayetteville girl; I’m so happy to have broken my record in my own city,” Allen said.

Always training, Hudec said she runs four times a week and cross-trains every day. She has passed on her love for running to her children.

Runners started at the Fayetteville Square, then ran along roads and trails toward the finish line at the Walton Arts Center parking lot on Dickson Street. Since 2003 runners no longer run between Fayetteville and the hamlet of Hogeye like in the beginning.

The event is expected to raise $40,000, which will be distributed among six nonprofit groups: American Wheelchair Mission, Jackson Graves Foundation, Kendrick Fincher Hydration Foundation, Meals on Wheels, Children’s Safety Center, and the Frank and Barbara Broyles Foundation CareGivers United.

Charities were chosen based on how many volunteers they provided at the event, said race director Tabby Holmes. The funds raised will not be divided evenly among the six charities. Instead, volunteer participation numbers determine how much money will be given to a particular charity, she explained.

The marathon was not always a weekend-long hog-sized affair; it started as a piglet.

“We had seventeen runners the first year, three finished,” said Hogeye Marathon co-founder Dr. Barry Brown. Brown, who was a University of Arkansas faculty member at the time, and was watching the Boston Marathon on TV with former UA track coach Ed Renfro and the “Voice of the Razorbacks” Wally Ingalls. Aware that the region could use more emphasis on health and fitness, the men thought, “We’re in the Boston Mountains, so we figured it would be nice to have our own Boston Mountain Marathon,” Brown said.

They tried to have the marathon closer to Fayetteville but traffic was a problem.

“So we drove down highway 265 to the town of Hogeye, and we realized that’s the perfect route: there was very little traffic, which was the main concern, and there were hills,” Brown said. “We never thought it would catch on like this.”

Because they lacked the volunteer manpower to show people where to turn, “some people missed the turn at Hogeye and ended up running over 35 miles,” Brown said. “We didn’t know what we were doing: we only had two water stations.”

In the future, “we hope to get more involvement from the community, and the media is helping ... we’ve had more coverage this year than we’ve ever had,” Holmes said.

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Brown also sees changes ahead for the marathon.

“I can see us reaching 2,500 runners within three or four years,” he said.

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