This past weekend I was in Fayetteville, Arkansas to run the Hogeye Marathon. This was my first time running in Arkansas – which means I get to add another state to my list! Yay!!
Unlike many of my past marathons, this one served me a completely new purpose. There was no 3 week taper, no fat loading/carb loading, and no speed work training. I signed up for this run to help me train for my 165 mile segment with MS Run the US relay this summer. Every Sunday I am now running the distance of a marathon (and more), so I thought it would be fun to sign up for a marathon each month to break up the monotony of the local trails. The Hogeye Marathon fit the bill for my March race perfectly.
In general I had a very different experience running this race, since it in fact was not a “race” for me. Running to run versus running to race can produce a very different result and feeling about an event. My miles are currently about spending time on my feet, not about hitting a new PR. Since I was running to run, I was truly able to slow down and enjoy so much more of the event and the course.
So just what did I think if the Hogeye Marathon? Let’s talk about the course first. I knew going into the run based on the elevation chart, that I would be encountering some hills. I did not however realize how steep some of them would be. Since I was not looking to PR, I gave myself the “right” to walk up all the steep hills and use them as opportunities to hydrate and fuel. The worst hill was near the end of the course and it was a doozy! But, we were rewarded with a swift downhill to the finish line. The course was a mix of paved bike/running trail and streets. It was well marked and there were plenty of volunteers along the course to keep you running in the right direction. The half marathon cut off from the full around mile 8. I like this because when the half marathon finish line is visible while running the full marathon, it can be very tempting to opt to finish early. Around mile 10 the race went into Fayetteville Lake. This provided about 6 miles of trail around the beautiful lake.
The start line of the course was in the downtown square, and the finish less than a half mile from the start tucked with some fun local restaurants. The course in general was well designed and I thought highlighted a good representation of Fayetteville.
The Hogeye Marathon offered a lot of great amenities for runners. One that stood out to me since I was traveling from out of town was race day packet pick up. I realize that for larger races this is difficult to offer, but I was very appreciative of this option! They also offered race day child care for those that needed it and a free pasta dinner for the first 50 registered runners the night before the race. The host hotel (The Chancellor) was priced right, friendly, right by the start line, and accommodated late check outs! Talk about convenience! The course had more than enough water/aid stations. Several of them offered gels and bananas in addition to the typical water and Gatorade. The aid station at mile 12 had a great assortment of other snacks if you wanted – M&Ms, nuts, potato chips, peanut butter and jelly sammies – translation – REAL foods. (Not my “normal” – “real food”, but better than gels.) At mile 20 you could even get a wet cloth to wipe down and cool off with. And the medal – talk about some bling!! The medal is heavy and bigger than my palm! I love the design, too!
Post-race I like to indulge a little bit and my usual fare is pizza! I usually try to seek out a local pizza place to try. This time I found myself at Tiny Tim’s Pizza in the square. I ordered a salad and veggie pizza with no cheese. I took mine to go so I could get on the road home, but the pizza was delicious! There were cherry tomatoes that had burst open while cooking – so yummy!
Post-race I received an email that there had been some issues with race timing and database back up. It appeared this affected late registers or packet pick-ups, and maybe others. It was a very heartfelt apologetic email to the runners for the issue. I’m not sure exactly what happened, as it didn’t seem to concern me much. From the email, it sounded like they were getting it all sorted out.
I couldn’t have asked for a better race to run. I think the Hogeye Marathon is going to really grow over the next few years. This is one I would definitely recommend to my friends and may even consider running again. Thanks Fayetteville for providing such a great event!!