Kentucky – The Hatfield McCoy Marathon
Odds are that you’ve gotten into a dispute with a person in your life, but those odds certainly don’t suggest that the dispute became a historic concept across the country. This is definitely not the case for the Hatfield/McCoy feud, a conflict that many beyond the mountain region it existed in have come to know. And there’s good reason for the feud’s fame! The Civil War, murder, theft, betrayal… There were various clashes between these two families, and the series of events could easily be a blend of rumor and fact. We can’t be sure, for instance, that Asa McCoy was really murdered by a Hatfield, or the stabbing of Ellison Hatfield on an election day. In any event, this was a dispute between families that claimed lives and caused heartache.
But from the ashes of the hatred and combat, there’s now a thing of unity and beauty that gives a more positive connection to the two names: The Hatfield McCoy Marathon.
The Hatfield McCoy Marathon
First of all, there isn’t just one race that you can partake in for this opportunity. Rather, there are five: the 5K, the Double Half Marathon (two runs in one), the River Road Half Marathon, the Blackberry Mountain Half Marathon, and the Full Marathon. The lengths of these runs vary from 3.1 miles to 26.2 miles. Before the race, runners are assigned to whether they’ll be a “Hatfield” or a “McCoy”. Whichever group of surname’s carriers average the best finishing time are labeled as the winners. It’s also said that winners receive mason jars as part of their rewards, which is fitting for the area!
The Full Marathon itself—our primary focus—begins at Food City in Goody, KY, and its route interweaves between Kentucky and West Virginia until it reaches the final endpoint in Williamson, West Virginia. Through the run, participants will pass a coal camp, significant grave sites, and the site of the Hog Trial (Feud lingo!), among other relevant areas.
So Why Run it?
Clearly, there’s history between these two families, and that factor is enough to draw in a history fan who is interested in seeing the places this dispute reached. Choosing to run the full marathon is a great way to do that since the route leads into areas where some of the incidences of this feud happened. For a history fan, this is an untouchable quality because you’re getting a personal look at the terrain where some of the most famous Kentucky/West Virginia events ever occurred. Think of it like a quick-paced history tour!
Beyond the history element, you might think of choosing this marathon because it’s such a challenge—which is something that anyone who’s been to the mountainous regions of Kentucky or West Virginia might understand. You won’t just be running on pavement or even ground, so be prepared to push yourself! Need proof? Jeff Galloway labeled the Hatfield McCoy Marathon as one of the most challenging that the United States has to offer. That’s saying something!
According to the marathon’s site, the elevation in the race ranges from 635 feet to 1,270 feet. Just based on mathematics, that means your highest elevation will be DOUBLE your lowest, so be prepared for some uphill/downhill travel! Oh, and did I mention that there’s a swinging bridge? Better keep your balance and form strong and steady for that detail, as well as any Tug River crossings you’ll be doing!
Overall, from start to finish, you could be in for a demanding experience that pushes you to your furthest abilities as a runner. So if you’re looking for something to test you physically, this could be the marathon for you!
One other element in addition to the history and the physical challenge of the marathon is the scenery you’ll encounter. You’ll be running past Blackberry Mountain, crossing a river, and seeing different elements of the wonderful landscapes that the Appalachian territory can afford you. Since the marathon takes place on summer’s doorstep (judging by this year’s date), you can experience those amazing scenes and details when nature is in full bloom—whether that’s an array of lively, green trees on the mountainside, a series of wild blackberry bushes on a hill, quaint valleys of grass, nature-made waterfalls pouring rain water from a mountain, or wildflowers blooming in their bright colors. Just imagine being able to take in fresh, mountain air while you run past some of the most beautiful representations of nature that you’ve ever seen! For this detail alone, this marathon is worth exploring!
What Else Should I Know?
There are a number of places that out-of-towners can stay for the starting area of the race, including hotels, cabins, a bed and breakfast, and the Hatfield McCoy House. To make sure you have a room in one of the options though, be sure to book ahead, and don’t neglect to browse some of the restaurant options to get the best experience possible during your stay. There are more local-based restaurants to choose from to give you a distinct experience in addition to bigger chain restaurants, so you shouldn’t have a problem stopping your hunger while you’re in the area!
Also, keep in mind that there are no local airports, so if you’re going to fly, you’ll need to factor in the proper amount of driving time or have a way to get from one of the closest airports to the starting point of the race. Whatever your method of travel, be sure to arrive for the pasta dinner that’s free for all participants (except for 5K runners)!
Prices to register for the race are non-refundable, so be sure of your plans before you pay the fee. That fee, by the way, varies for which race you want to participate in and when you register. For the Full Marathon, registering before New Year’s Day allows you to pay only $60, but if you wait until race weekend, you’ll have to pay $90. So as soon as you know your plans well enough to pencil in that marathon, register!
Next year’s race will be held on June 8, 2018. Registration just opened, so sign up and get ready for a challenging, fun marathon!