In The Long Run

This story originally appeared in volume 24, issue 4 of the Prospective. As opposed to a general track overview, we decided to cover students running outside of school. The Little Rock marathon is a little notorious in the running community for its hilly terrain and the fact that it has the biggest completion medals of any race. I interviewed both students participating and the race director for this story. I took a picture of Hawkin Starke during one of his jogs to accompany the story.

Individuals from all 50 states and 32 countries will be weaving their way through the streets of Little Rock for the Little Rock half-marathon and marathon on March 5. Both races will begin at Scott & 4th Streets and end at Main & 3rd Streets. The routes for both races have changed since last year, but marathons and half-marathons are about more than the roads to run.

Sophomore Hawkin Starke plans to run the full marathon.

“Running is more than just physical, because no matter how good you are at it you have to always be pushing yourself,” Starke said. “You’re always tired at some point. It’s never easy. You just have to prepare yourself for the struggle.”

The preparation, according to many, is the key. Full marathon training programs for beginners typically take 20 weeks, while half-marathon training takes 12.

“It’s been pretty tough,” sophomore Oscar Smith said.

Smith ran his first half-marathon in November and is training with his dad to run the Little Rock half. His dad, a long distance runner, is helping to push Smith.

“[My dad] can run farther than me, but I can run a little faster because I’m in cross country and track,” Smith said.

Many training programs follow a system of building up to a certain mileage a week with a long run on the weekends up until a “peak” week. After that, mileage drops drastically to let the body recover before the race.

“The weekend runs [are especially hard],” Starke said.

In one training weekend, Starke ran 20 miles, which is about a four hour and 20-minute run, though slower than his expected marathon pace.

According to the fitness organization RunTri, the overall average marathon finish time– including all genders, age groups and races of varying terrain– is four hours and 24 minutes. Starke expects to finish his in four hours and 45 minutes. During a race, the typical person will lose three pounds and a little over a gallon and a half of sweat.

While the race itself is finished in hours, the planning process takes a little over a year per race.

“I wish I could say [planning] got simpler every year, but it hasn’t,” race director and founder Geneva Lamm said. Lamm began the race fourteen years ago with the Little Rock Parks and Recreation at the time. According to Lamm, they began with essentially no money and now have a Boston Marathon qualifying race with a budget upwards of $1,000,000.

“I expect that we’re going to have a great race,” Lamm said. “We have a lot of people that this is their first marathon, so hopefully they’ll have a good time and want to come back again. We expect great things.”

For many, the races are more than just an extreme demonstration of physical fitness.

“You can meet people from all over the world,” junior John Hampton said. Hampton is Lamm’s son and has worked on the marathon in the past, helping to announce and organize.

“We try to keep it a very uplifting atmosphere,” Hampton said. “[The marathon} does a lot of good, raising money for parks. All that money really helps. There’s plenty of people who have amazing stories about wanting to run.”

Starke is running because his mom has been doing marathons for years and he wants to give it a try. Smith is running to stay healthy and enjoy the outdoors.

“Most people think that you have to be this uber-athlete to be able to do a marathon, but that’s just not the case,” Lamm said. “It’s a lot of commitment, but in the long run, people think it’s worth it. It changes the way people view themselves and view the world, that’s for sure.”

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