Marathon crowd back in Little Rock

Participants in the 2023 Little Rock Marathon take off from the starting line in downtown Little Rock in this March 5, 2023 file photo. (Arkansas Democrat-Gazette/Staci Vandagriff)
Participants in the 2023 Little Rock Marathon take off from the starting line in downtown Little Rock in this March 5, 2023 file photo. (Arkansas Democrat-Gazette/Staci Vandagriff)

The 22nd annual Little Rock Marathon is set for Sunday morning with some slight adjustments being made in the schedule to compensate for the above average temperatures that are expected.

Originally set to start at 8 a.m., race officials made the decision to bump Sunday's marathon and half-marathon start times up to 5:30 a.m. for the early starters and 6 a.m. for everyone else out of an abundance of caution to make sure the race is as safe as possible for the 4,000-plus runners expected to participate.

"Based on the forecast and what we've seen predicted for this weekend, we've made the decision to start our races on Sunday a couple of hours earlier to make sure we're doing what's best for the athletes," race director Mike Garrity said during a news conference earlier in the week.

A 10K, a 5K and a kids fun run will be held today.

With athletes traveling to Little Rock from all 50 states and at least eight different countries, downtown figures to be buzzing all weekend. With all of the events sold out and various activities planned around the race, several road closures will affect commuters in the city all weekend.

LaHarpe Boulevard will be closed in both directions from State Street to President Clinton Avenue until approximately 10 p.m. on Sunday. With the exception of LaHarpe Boulevard, every other road along the course should be reopened by 3 p.m. on Sunday. Visit for more information.

While several notable names return this year, most of the top contenders are competing in Little Rock for the first time. 2023 10K winner Robert Stocklaufer is back this year, but he is pacing 3:35 for the marathon. Maddie Cabana also returns to defend her first place finish in the female 10K. She finished fourth among all finishers in the 10K in 2023.

Ricky Martinez returns after placing second in the 5K last year, but he will try his hand at the half this time around. The only returning marathon winner from 2023 will be Devin Cordray, who was the non-binary winner.

Adam Fortin, Trevor Uyemura and Robert Kiss are among several of the top contenders to watch out for as they vie for the "world's largest finisher's medal." No prize money will be awarded to any of the winners.

While it will be a very competitive field towards the top of the finishers, the Little Rock Marathon prides itself on being a welcoming race for competitors of any level. With an early start that allows participants to finish within 6-8 hours, beginner runners and walkers are encouraged to be a part of the event.

Charles Jones of Cabot has been a consistent runner in the event since 2013 and plans on being back in action this year. He is an educator at Sylvan Hills and is registered to run the half-marathon this weekend.

"I've done one full marathon and several halves," Jones said. "I'm not a traditional runner. I got into running to be more intentional about developing and having an exercise regiment. My wife [Laura] and I sign up to this one each year as a challenge to ourselves."

The Little Rock Marathon is known as "a race for every pace" and many casual runners like Jones feel more comfortable competing in that type of environment over some of the other marathons around the country that are larger and can be more intimidating.

"One of the reasons my wife and I love doing this is because it is a low-tress race," Jones said. "There are people of all walks of life that are out there doing this. If you like to people watch, whether it's the people helping out on the sidelines or the runners that are in the race, it's just a lot of fun. It's a place where everybody is welcome."

With the thousands of participants, volunteers and spectators all descending on downtown Little Rock, the race is expected to provide a boost to the local economy, especially the restaurant and hospitality industry.

"To the people out in Little Rock, please come out and support the race," Garrity said. "It's a great race. One of the things the marathon here in Little Rock is very well-known for is the hospitality and that comes from our citizens, our volunteers and public safety officials. We appreciate all of them and hope they all come out and support the race this weekend."

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