SPRINGDALE — The downtown area will be bustling on Saturday as the starter’s pistol sounds for the 42nd Hogeye Marathon.
The event will call Springdale home for the second year after it was relocated from Fayetteville last year. Tyson Foods will again serve as the presenting sponsor of the races. The newly completed Turnbow Park on Emma Avenue will serve as the race headquarters.
Race Director Tabby Holmes said she expects a field of more than 2,000 runners in the marathon, half-marathon, marathon relay, 5K and kid’s marathon combined.
“This is still a building year even though we anticipate we will have higher numbers than last year,” Holmes said. “We want to continue to grow the Hogeye Marathon and relays. We want to make it a bigger event. There is no reason with the growth in this area and with it being in Springdale, with it being the center point, that we can’t make it three, four, five thousand runners.”
There are a number of new features this year, Holmes said. The expo, where a number of vendors will be set up, will be staged across the street from Turnbow Park. Also new this year, finishers in the marathon and half-marathon will receive jackets.
The Kid’s Marathon will be held at Luther George Park and will feature both a one-mile and two-mile course.
“We think we will have over 500 kids this year,” Holmes said. “Even though we don’t time them, they are pretty competitive.”
Holmes said runners from 32 states and Canada were registered to run. Runners can still register at the expo tonight.
Last year, the runners seemed pleased with the new race course, Holmes said.
“We have a lot of positive feedback,” she said, “We have a beautiful area and the runners seemed to really enjoy the course, but there are still hills to negotiate.”
Part of the race course will use the concourse at Arvest Ballpark.
Tyson Foods will be grilling chicken sandwiches for the runners on Saturday, Holmes said.
“Runners will eat almost anything,” she said, “but it will be nice to eat protein after the race.”
Jon Bitler won last year’s men’s marathon in 3 hours, 4 minutes, 28.33 seconds. Emily King was the top female in 3:12:38.60 and Dominique Scott won half marathon in 1:18:01.52, just ahead of Michael Harris (1:18:20.68).
There are five charities that will serve as benefactors of the race, Holmes said — The Alzheimer’s Association of Arkansas, Meals on Wheels Washington County, The American Wheelchair Mission, the Jackson L. Graves Foundation and the Kendrick Fincher Hydration For Life Foundation.
“The Hogeye Marathon has given away more than a half-million dollars over the course of the event,” Holmes said. “We try to give away as much as we can every year.”
WHERE Downtown Springdale
START TIME Marathon and half-marathon and relay start at 7 a.m.; 5K starts at 7:05 a.m.; Kid’s marathon starts at 2 p.m. There is also an early marathon start at 6:15 a.m.
AWARDS CEREMONY The 5K awards will be presented at 8:15 a.m. Half-marathon awards will be presented at 9:30 with the marathon awards being presented at noon.