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Runners from 36 states expected for 13th Run Bentonville Half Marathon

Runners from 36 states expected for 13th Run Bentonville Half Marathon by Mike Jones | March 27, 2023 at 4:00 a.m.
Cameron Beckett of Little Rock sprints to the finish April 2 to win the 2022 Bentonville Half Marathon. (File Photo/NWA Democrat-Gazette/Flip Putthoff)

BENTONVILLE -- Saturday's 13th Run Bentonville Half Marathon could set a record for participants, an official said.

More than 2,800 runners have signed up, said Josh Stacey, Parks and Recreation services manager. Online registration runs through Tuesday, and runners can sign up in person at the race expo Friday, he said.

Stacey expects 3,000 to 3,200 competitors. The largest turnout was 3,100 runners in 2019; last year drew 2,350, Stacey said.

Festivities start at 7 a.m. The 13.1-mile run will begin and end on the downtown square. There also will be a 5-kilometer race.

Runners from 36 states and South Africa have registered, he said. All 50 states have been represented at least once in the half marathon's history, he said.

The 2020 half marathon was virtual because of covid-19, and the 2021 race was postponed from the spring to the fall, also because of covid-19. Last year's race was in April.

Racing numbers are starting to pick up, Stacey said. The city's Irish Run, a 5k race on March 11, had 1,500 participants. The race had never drawn more than 1,000 runners since it started in 2013, Stacey said.

"It's getting back to where we were in 2019," Stacey said of half marathon participation. "We like the spring date. It has been successful for us."

The Parks and Recreation Department relies on the revenue generated from the race for the creation and maintenance of new and/or existing parks and programs, departmental administrative costs and other park amenities within the city. The race helps provide programs like the Fourth of July fireworks show and other community events, according to the race website.

Last year's race grossed $165,000 and $25,000 in profit, Stacey said.

About 300 volunteers will help Saturday. Aid/water stations will be 1.8 to 2.3 miles apart. Stations are equipped with water and Gatorade, according to the event website.

What makes the Run Bentonville Half Marathon unique is it's the marquee event, Stacey said. Many half marathons held across the country are tied to full marathons that happen the same day, he said.

The amount of swag given at the event also is a draw; swag bags contain about 40 items, he said.

Lindsay Bailey of Cave Springs will run her third Bentonville Half Marathon on Saturday. She ran in the inaugural one and again last year. In between those races, her running went on hiatus; she got married in 2012 and had three children.

Her goal is to achieve a personal best time.

Her husband and children met her at the finish line last year.

"It was cool for the kids to see the whole environment," she said.

The community has embraced the event from its beginning in 2011, Stacey said. People come to the square to see the runners finish. They also watch from their front yards along the race course and others have half marathon get-togethers, he said.

The event also is a chance to sell Bentonville to out-of-town runners, he said.

Big events like the Run Bentonville Half Marathon attract a lot of foot traffic, providing an excellent opportunity for local merchants and restaurants to generate additional revenue, said Dana Sargent Schlagenhaft, Downtown Bentonville Inc. executive director.

"The impact of these gatherings extends beyond the actual event day, as visitors get to explore the area and could be influenced to make future purchases," she said. "Additionally, big events help maintain an active, vibrant city center and serve as the ideal way to enjoy a spring morning in our beautiful downtown."

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Race expo

The Run Bentonville Half Marathon Health and Wellness Expo will be from 10 a.m.-7 p.m. Friday at Record, 104 S.W. A St. The expo is where runners will pick up their race-day packets, including a timing chip, race bib, shirt and swag bag. The expo also will feature over 20 health and wellness vendors.

Source: NWA Democrat-Gazette


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