LITTLE ROCK Tim Conger came from Indianapolis to run the Little Rock Marathon because the race has something of a reputation.
"It's a party," the 60-year-old said shortly before the 10th anniversary marathon was to begin. "It's a party marathon."
Conger was one of thousands of runners who descended on downtown early Sunday, crossing the start line to begin the half-marathon at 13.1 miles or the full one at 26.2 miles. After beginning on President Clinton Avenue in the River Market district, racers are weaving through various parts of the city, seeing the state Capitol, Central High School, Hillcrest and many more.
The event sold out with 2,400 marathon runners and 4,200 half-marathon racers.
Conger, who ran his first full marathon in 1996, was preparing to do the half-marathon Sunday. He said there's just something about running that he enjoys.
"I can go out there and enjoy God's green earth," he said. "It's just a real rush."
Others came from more local destinations.
Maumelle resident Karen Gay, 38, was readying for her fifth consecutive half-marathon, aiming to beat her time of 2:24 set last year.
Gay said she enjoys the atmosphere created by runners who, despite competing in a solitary sport, embrace a spirit of togetherness. The race is also a good way to keep fit and stick to goals.
"It keeps you honest," Gay said, warming up by a heater set up in the River Market pavilion. "When you sign up in July, you make that commitment to finish."
Eugene Atha, an avid runner from Sherwood, said his daughter, 29-year-old Alise, decided to start running with him in 2010. Twenty-seven races later, they were preparing Sunday to run in their first Little Rock Marathon together.
Eugene Atha said he looked forward to crossing the finish line together.
"That will be the highlight of my running career," he said. "To do this and get that big medal, that will be special."