The City of Fort Smith is gearing up for the 5th annual Fort Smith Marathon and we couldn’t be more excited! The course is a killer one and not for the faint of heart. The month of February in Arkansas is always a gamble weather wise, but that's just a small part of what makes this race so extra.
This USATF-certified course is both scenic and challenging and includes historic downtown, beautiful neighborhoods, paved trails, and rolling terrain with significant climbs and descents. There’s options to do the full 26.2, a heck of a half marathon at 13.1, or gather three friends and take on the four person relay. Whether doing the full, half, or a relay, by the time you reach your finish line you definitely have earned that TRUE GRIT satisfaction by having their awesome medal placed around your neck.
Since its inception in 2015, the Fort Smith Marathon has grown bigger and better each year. This event is great for Fort Smith. Many runners travel in for the race, stay in our hotels, eat in our restaurants, visit our stores. It's a total boost for the city, not to mention our trails system.
I’ve been lucky enough to run in it and participate every year. The first two years I ran on a relay team, the last two, happily completed the half. Since I’ve essentially covered the full 26.2 due to various legs of the relay, I can attest as to what an awesome, well organized, course this is. A huge part of its momentum is community. There’s a residential neighborhood along leg two that does it up right - live band, mimosas for the runners (optional but yes, please!) and bounce-around's for the kids! It's a pretty epic block party.
The course environment is key to any great race and Fort Smith does it up right. Throughout the entire thing, the city shows up to support, cheer, and celebrate this awesome event. That strong community push is what makes this challenging race such a fun, one of a kind, experience. We're a tight-knit community, comradery among runners is key. I've loved training each year with friends, meeting strangers along the course. Even celebrities.
In January of 2017 I had just sealed the deal to purchasing our current property at 410 N B. That year lining up out front at the start line of the then blank slate, empty factory, I realized… Holy Cow, the race starts RIGHT HERE. Last year, wintry conditions shut down our roof top kick off party and kept it to the street, but to see the hundreds of runners and volunteers gathering outside of Belle Starr for the start was awe-inspiring! Running right past the shop on my way to the finish line made me giddy. Just another reason I’m so proud and thankful for our downtown investment. Our community is the best.
Enter this year. Here I am struggling. A major back problem and ongoing diagnoses has banned me from running and participating for the first time ever. To say I was bummed (I legit cried in the Doctor's office as he told me my running days were done) is an understatement. Running is my joy, my outlet, and this race, my favorite each year. I think you can tell that by my face in any of these photos. The ear to ear grin spills over from a runners joy juice brought on by all the elements and culmination of race day.
SO! While I’m forced to count myself out this year as a runner, I want to keep my glass half full and turn this negative in to a positive. I’ve never been a cheerleader at a race, but I know how important the funny signs, the high fives, the hoops and hollers are. Let's give it a go!
I invite you to join us at Belle Starr Antiques & Vintage Market on Sunday, February 10th to line B Street and cheer on the athletes as they start and finish their journey.
Weather permitting, Belle Starr will host the rooftop kick off party at 8am sharp. Emcee Daren Bobb will preside, confetti will rain, the race will begin! Starting at around 9am, we'll be lining B Street on the back side of the shop, ready to rally around the runners as they make their way to the finish line. I want a loud ruckus of cheers, bells, signs, to surround the runners as they make their final push. It's such a huge accomplishment. Also super cool to celebrate a complete strangers major achievement.
Proceeds from the Fort Smith Marathon benefit the Fort Smith Park Partners and their work to expand our incredible and ever growing Fort Smith Trail System. In the spirit of community, for every volunteer who shows up to cheer at Belle Starr that Sunday morning to cheer the runners on, I’ll donate $5 a head to our Trails System, capping at sixty cheerleaders.
I love any excuse to throw a party, so let's raise some money for the trails while raising a little hell on the border! Check out the full details via our Facebook event page.
Bring your signs, bring your kids, bring your smiles, bring yourselves. I’ll have plenty of doughnuts, mimosas, and coffee to keep you full, jolly and warm.