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The Little Rock Marathon, the largest marathon in the state, began in 2003 with 2,527 registered participants and has grown to well over 10,000 runners and walkers as of 2013. It is traditionally held each year on the first Sunday of March. The course begins in downtown Little Rock (Pulaski County) and runs through the River Market District and Quapaw Quarter District, and then by the William J. Clinton Presidential Center and Park, Little Rock City Hall, the Arkansas Arts Center, Philander Smith College, Central High School, the Arkansas State Capitol, and Murray Park before reaching the finish line in Riverfront Park.
The Little Rock Marathon began in 2003 as a fundraiser for the City of Little Rock’s Parks and Recreation department. Each year’s race has a theme, and participants often dress according to the theme. For example, in 2008, it was “Six in the City,” celebrating the race’s sixth year. The tenth anniversary featured a disco theme.
Several races take place the day of the marathon (26.2 miles). There is also a half marathon of 13.1 miles, and 10K (6.2 miles) and 5K (3.1 miles) races. Children have their own race called the Little Rockers Kids Marathon, in which children ages 7–12 track their miles on their own and complete 25.2 miles before the first weekend in March. Then, on race day, they complete the last mile on the official course and receive an official finisher’s medal.
The marathon is unique in several ways. It is known for the size of its finisher’s medal, which was named the world’s largest by Runner’s World magazine in 2004. The 2012 medal was 7.57 inches by 7.75 inches and weighed one pound and 8.7 ounces. The race is also known for its L’Oreal Lipstick Stop, at which runners are given lipstick, at mile twenty-six for the full marathon and mile thirteen for the half marathon, for those wanting a “winning smile” when they cross the finish line.
The Little Rock Marathon is a United States of America Track & Field (USAT&F) Association certified race and also may be used to qualify for the Boston Marathon. It is not just for runners, as walkers and wheelchair racers are also welcome; these racers have to complete the course in under eight hours to be considered finishers.
Several hydration stations along the course serve water and Gatorade, along with stations that give out energy gels. There are also medical stations, two-man teams of paramedics on bicycles, and course rovers including fire department crews, crash carts, and first aid/course support teams in the event of an emergency.
The evening before the race, a pasta party is given for all participants. After the race, there is a party with a meal included. The Health and Fitness Expo takes place on the two days prior to the race, with exhibitors showing a wide array of products geared toward runners and walkers. All proceeds from the race go to Little Rock Parks and Recreation.
For additional information:Lesnick, Gavin. “Thousands Take Part in Little Rock Marathon.” Arkansas Democrat-Gazette, March 7, 2010. Online at http://www.arkansasonline.com/news/2010/mar/07/thousands-begin-little-rock-marathon/ (accessed February 5, 2013).
Little Rock Marathon. http://littlerockmarathon.com/ (accessed February 5, 2013).
Yasso, Bart. “Big Fun, Big Scenery, Big Rewards: The Best Little Marathons in 2005.” Runner’s World (January 2005): 71.
Laura Downing Arkansas State University
Last Updated 3/27/2013
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