The 20th Anniversary edition of the Hatfield McCoy Marathon was a blast! Hosted by the Tug Valley Road Runners club with the help and support of hundreds of volunteers from the community, this quickly became a favorite marathon in the running world!
According to Tug Valley Road Runners Club President Alexis Batausa, this year saw a total registration of 1085 runners. They came from 41 states and 4 countries which were Australia, Bermuda, Canada, and New Zealand!
On the morning of June 8th, the running club was out at 4 a.m. to make sure the running routes and shuttles were ready to go! By 6 a.m., runners were warming up, checking their gear, and heading to their starting points. In addition to the full marathon, half and double half marathon was offered, along with a 5K and kids run in the afternoon.
The full marathon winner this year was 47-year old Barry Fischer from Cloquet, Minnesota.
Why the Hatfield McCoy Marathon?
For many runners, like Abilash Shekher of Connecticut, this was their first time running in the Hatfield McCoy Marathon.
“I’m trying to do races in the states on the east coast and closer to Connecticut. I heard about this one and it is supposed to be one of the good ones to do, so I registered for it. I was interested in the race starting in the state of Kentucky and ending in West Virginia,” said Shekher
Runners from Northern Florida, Sean Kearn and Karen Chamusco, decided to make their trip to this marathon for the first time so they can “collect” two states in one run. The pair registered for the double half marathon. Sean was taking a backpack with him so he could take his good camera on the route.
“I’m looking forward to seeing the scenery along the way. We’re hoping to get some good pictures” said Karen.
Rosemary Evans of Fleminsburg, Kentucky, keeps coming back for this marathon.
“This is my 20th year running the Hatfield McCoy Marathon. I come back because of the community. Everyone comes out to help-it’s great. The history of the area is nice and along the way during the race people come out, like the stop that has the mini horses to see, “ Evans continued, “ I started running in 1997 after seeing Oprah Winfrey had completed the NYC Marathon and I thought if she can do it, maybe I can too. I’ve had great fun running. I’ve ran around 370 marathons, including NYC, one in Amsterdam, many others. The Hatfield McCoy Marathon is a favorite though. I love it here.”
Not everyone running is as seasoned as others and start with the 5K. Local Road Runners Race supporter, Steve Baisden passed away in February 2019. He was an avid race supporter in Williamson. This year, a group of his friends and former co-workers, alongside his wife Susan, signed up to do the 5K in his memory. The group wore matching shirts that read “Steve’s Space Monkeys”.
Jequita Thacker said, “Every morning at work Steve would come in and loudly say to the office, “Good Morning, Space Monkeys! So, I thought that’s what we had to have on our shirts.”
“Steve always ran the marathon and he was like a part of our own family and we wanted to honor him,” said Jessica Fish.
Steve’s wife, Susan had an interesting story about her race bib number, 1107.
“I didn’t notice when I picked up my registration packet on Friday, but when I put my number on this morning, I see it is 1107. Steve’s birthday was November 7th, 11/07. I didn’t ask for this number- it was just randomly assigned. It was just meant to be,” said Susan.
There are always so many stories to be heard during the marathon. It’s a true gathering of people becoming friends through running.
Even the volunteers come back year after year. Community organizations, church groups, and friends and family host water stops, take care of the finish line, and chat with the visitors as they make their way around Williamson.
Dee Kapourales volunteers yearly at the finish line with the GFWC-WV Williamson Woman’s Club. She always tells new club members this is one of her favorite events because its so much fun to meet and talk with people coming here from all over.
Tug Valley Road Runners Club treasurer Leigh Ann Ray explained, “According to an economic impact study completed three years ago by West Virginia University, this marathon has an impact of probably $1.9 million in our community and surrounding communities in one weekend. That was three years ago, and the race has continued to grow since then, so the impact would likely be larger now. This is currently the biggest tourism event during the year in our area.”
Ray explained all municipalities in Mingo County, West Virginia, as well as communities in Pike and Martin County, Kentucky, Logan County, West Virginia and as far as Charleston, West Virginia have marathon runners staying in their lodging, shopping in their shops, and dining in their restaurants.
Notes from the Club President and Vice President
“My favorite part of the marathon is the people. I really like meeting everyone that comes from different states and countries. They tell us how much they like our area and they always want to come back. It’s fun to talk with them. We enjoy being the host to so many visitors” said Shawn Cool Vice President of the Tug Valley Road Runners Club.
Club President Alexis Batausa said starting in June 2018, the club knew they had to make this year huge since it was the 20th anniversary. Working with local distillery, Pauley Hollow, the club was able to offer limited edition Hatfield McCoy Marathon Moonshine this year and it’s been a huge hit!
“The Tug Valley Road Runners worked hard to make this year one of the best races in the world. Everything seemed to flow well, lots of positivity, we were organized, and all our volunteers were amazing! We are very proud! We couldn’t do it without all the amazing people involved to make this such a special event every year, “said Batausa.
Great Marathon. Great Runners Club. Great Volunteers. Great Runners. Yeah, it’s all great!
If you’re motivated to join in on the fun in the 21st Hatfield McCoy Marathon, you can follow them on Facebook for updates and registration info. Hope to see you on race day 2020!