Overall Rating
Overall Rating (128 Reviews)
4.6
(128 Ratings)(128 Reviews)
DIFFICULTY
3.3
SCENERY
3.8
PRODUCTION
4.6
SWAG
4.4
2021 EVENT RESCHEDULED FROM MARCH. 2022 EVENT WILL BE MARCH 5-6. *** Named as one of Runner’s World Bucket List: 10 Great Marathons for First-Timers, come fill your bucket at the Little Rock Marathon, Half Marathon, 10K, 5K, and Little Rockers Kids Marathon, held annually on the first weekend in … MORE
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Recent reviews

    M_Sohaskey FIRST-TIMER '20

    BOTTOM LINE: To sum up a terrific Little Rock weekend in one pithy statement, I’d say the medal is large and the Chicks are In Charge. And if I could … MORE

    BOTTOM LINE: To sum up a terrific Little Rock weekend in one pithy statement, I’d say the medal is large and the Chicks are In Charge. And if I could earn only one non-virtual marathon medal for all of 2020 (which unexpectedly turned out to be the case), I’m glad I earned it in Little Rock. Arkansas’ capital city may be renowned among marathoners for its intimidatingly large finisher’s medal, but while every race does need something to hang its hat on, the truth is that Little Rock’s appeal goes well beyond the bling.

    I wrote a bit about the city itself in my recap of the Jacob Wells 3 Bridges Marathon, but one of the coolest things about Little Rock is that unlike 3 Bridges, which runs mainly along the tree-lined Arkansas River Trail, the city’s namesake marathon treats its runners to a living, breathing history lesson. The course passes Little Rock Central High School (which in 1957 became the epicenter in the battle for forced desegregation), the State Capitol, the Clinton Presidential Library and Museum, the governor’s mansion, and even the Arkansas School for the Deaf with its leopard mascot (hence the deaf leopards, which totally fit with the weekend’s ‘80s theme). As urban marathon courses go, Little Rock is high on the list and particularly among mid-size cities. I’m even willing to forgive the two ho-hum out-and-backs from miles 6–8 and 19–24, since finding 26.2 miles of runnable roads typically requires some ingenuity.

    Oh, and a word of advice for anyone trying to decide between the full and half marathon in Little Rock: if you have the training to run either, this is a no-brainer. Only the 26.2-mile course passes Central High School and the State Capitol… and though you may question the wisdom of your decision in the closing miles, all skepticism will fade once you cross the finish line and get your mitts on the nation’s largest and blingiest medal. Because the only thing worse than FOMO is the actual MO.

    A year later, I admit our Route 66 and Little Rock weekends—separated by just over three months—tend to blend together, forming a memorable mid-size marathon smoothie in my brain. Then again, that’s a compliment to both since each features a festive atmosphere, top-notch organization & competence on the part of the race staff, a comfortable post-race gathering venue, great swag, and a lively Southern host city with its own Hurts Donut shop. And even though Little Rock is a city of bridges, the one brief section of the Route 66 marathon course that actually runs on Route 66 also happens to cross a bridge. So it’s understandable I might mix and match the two races in my head at times (luckily I’m a meticulous note-taker). My recommendation would be that you visit both cities and run each race for yourself to see how they compare through your eyes. The truth is you can’t go wrong with either, and I’d argue you’ll go very right with both.

    As you may expect in Downtown Little Rock there’s no shortage of lodging options, chief among them the uber-convenient Little Rock Marriott, which borders the start & finish line and which shares a building with the Statehouse Convention Center, home to the pre-race expo.

    PRODUCTION: Event Directors Geneva Lamm & Gina Pharis (aka the Chicks In Charge, or CICs) and their team know how to throw a 26.2-mile party and have a fabulous time doing it. Case in point their carefully crafted, always creative event theme (2020’s was “Totally Awesome” ‘80s) which changes annually but which never disappoints, and which the CICs clearly put their heart & soul into bringing to life. Seeing the two of them dancing atop the riser alongside the start line on race day, silhouetted against the rising sun with megaphone in hand, felt like the perfect start to my first and (as it turns out) only marathon of the year. And the two deserved to enjoy the fruits of their year-long labor, as race weekend itself was organizationally flawless, from the high-energy expo to the historic course (see above) to the comfortable post-race celebration inside the Little Rock Marriott where volunteers strolled the room offering exhausted runners hot dogs and breakfast burritos. The indoor venue in particular was a strong finishing touch, since Little Rock weather in early March tends to be less than totally awesome.

    SWAG (5 shoes): Ask any traveling runner about Little Rock, and the first thing you’re likely to hear about is the finisher’s medal. It’s unabashedly ginormous and hefty with plenty of sparkle (see photos), and you can expect a solid core workout if you plan to showcase it proudly around your neck. (Given this year’s “Alice in Wonderland” theme, I hope the CICs model the medal after the White Rabbit’s pocket watch so the post-race gathering resembles a Flavor Flav fan convention.) Each year on the first weekend of March, the Little Rock medal elicits an outpouring of oohs and aahs on social media from amazed/envious/horrified commenters. And I heard several runners admit they opted to run the full marathon rather than the half based simply on the size of the medal, training be damned—because whether you race to collect shiny hardware or do it strictly for the purity of competition, few things trigger such inexplicable FOMO as the Little Rock Marathon medal. Don’t ever let a runner tell you size doesn’t matter.

    Participants also received a short-sleeve race tee that fits nicely and… wait, did I mention the medal?

    For a colorful recap of Little Rock’s “Totally Awesome” ’80s-themed race weekend, including 46 nostalgic song references, check out my blog at https://blisterscrampsheaves.com/2021/03/22/little-rock-marathon-race-report/

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    seagroves87 Mar 22, 2021 at 4:18am

    Great review! Even though I am more of a half marathoner, this race I am definitely planning to do the full. Initially it was just for the medal but I'm… MORE

    Great review! Even though I am more of a half marathoner, this race I am definitely planning to do the full. Initially it was just for the medal but I'm glad to hear there are extra sights as well to make the extra 13.1 miles even more worth it LESS

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    mazzyoc FIRST-TIMER '20

    - medium sized race - great course through downtown LR and other landmarks around the city - nice mix of flat and hills - finisher medal is ridiculously too big MORE

    – medium sized race
    – great course through downtown LR and other landmarks around the city
    – nice mix of flat and hills
    – finisher medal is ridiculously too big

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    johnisrunning REPEAT RUNNER '20

    So much fun I had to do it again. I took it easy this year. Great expo, got to meet bart yasso this year. Bonus: completed the lrm race series … MORE

    So much fun I had to do it again. I took it easy this year. Great expo, got to meet bart yasso this year. Bonus: completed the lrm race series for extra bling.

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    M_Sohaskey Jul 27, 2020 at 9:02pm

    Seeing Bart this year was definitely a highlight, his energy is contagious. Congrats on LRM Half #2 John, and thanks for your reviews!

    Seeing Bart this year was definitely a highlight, his energy is contagious. Congrats on LRM Half #2 John, and thanks for your reviews!

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    johnisrunning FIRST-TIMER '19

    This was a tough day for running. The race featured very cold temps and about a mile of freezing rain. With that being said, LRM did a great job with … MORE

    This was a tough day for running. The race featured very cold temps and about a mile of freezing rain. With that being said, LRM did a great job with everything that was within their control.

    DIFFICULTY
    3
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    5
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    5
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    5

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    gsitkowski FIRST-TIMER '10

    This was my first half-marathon, actually my first running event. I was amazed at all the fan fare. There were so many people and stations along the course. It took … MORE

    This was my first half-marathon, actually my first running event. I was amazed at all the fan fare. There were so many people and stations along the course. It took me ten years to run it again but I am glad I did.

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    3
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    5
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    5
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    5

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    gsitkowski REPEAT RUNNER '20

    This race is fun. The people are friendly. The course takes you through the City of Little Rock. You run by the Clinton Library, the airport and Governor's Mansion. There … MORE

    This race is fun. The people are friendly. The course takes you through the City of Little Rock. You run by the Clinton Library, the airport and Governor’s Mansion. There are people on every corner to cheer you on and provide food and beverage. Overall a Great Experience.

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    cjmaise FIRST-TIMER '20

    Great support and a great challenging, very hilly, course. Best of all, the medal is worth every mile. Will definitely return to do this race again. MORE

    Great support and a great challenging, very hilly, course.
    Best of all, the medal is worth every mile.
    Will definitely return to do this race again.

    DIFFICULTY
    4
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    5
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    5
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    5

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    lalawbest REPEAT RUNNER '20

    This is a great race. There is one long hill from about mile 14 to about 17, but most of the course is flat. Most of it is good scenery … MORE

    This is a great race. There is one long hill from about mile 14 to about 17, but most of the course is flat. Most of it is good scenery going past historic sites. I’ve run it about five times and the Governor has been out cheering us on most of those races. Only problem is the weather is very unpredictable in Little Rock. Lots of people cheering you on, good aid stations.

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    adickerson REPEAT RUNNER '20

    Awesomely huge medals. Great aid stations. People all along the course supporting and cheering you on. The finish area is nice. They announced you when you are crossing the finish … MORE

    Awesomely huge medals. Great aid stations. People all along the course supporting and cheering you on. The finish area is nice. They announced you when you are crossing the finish line. There is a bell you get to ring. A place to take your picture when you finish. Lots of goodies for you to choose from a post run drink/snack. Also downtown has thing for your family to do while waiting on you like going to the fabulous Hurts Donuts 🍩

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    LappyRunner FIRST-TIMER '20

    This race is well organized. The Chicks-In-Charge have been doing this for a long time and it shows. It may not be a big deal for many runners but for … MORE

    This race is well organized. The Chicks-In-Charge have been doing this for a long time and it shows. It may not be a big deal for many runners but for a back-of-the-pack runner like me, the toilets are well placed. This means less waiting around for over-used toilets.
    The course had lots to reveal visually in that it started downtown, offered up some beautiful neighborhoods, and passed through a pine-tree lined stretch before ending back at the convention center.
    The course is not packed with spectators but what they lack in numbers they make up for in food (way to go team grilled pineapple!!!).
    Of course, the medals are the reason so many choose this race. I enjoyed the theme and the medal lived up to it’s billing. Thank you Little Rock Marathon for a memorable race!

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    imnumber25 FIRST-TIMER '20

    The medals are awesome as always, The CIC run a great race and you can not ask for The Hobbit to be any better to take care of any needs … MORE

    The medals are awesome as always, The CIC run a great race and you can not ask for The Hobbit to be any better to take care of any needs you have during pre race and race day event. Swag store is well stocked and after race treats are great, Course support is light on the shorter races but is still readily available and can’t be beat for the distance races the next day.

    DIFFICULTY
    5
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    5
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    mlegall REPEAT RUNNER '20

    Always has a fun theme and new medal, which of course is appropriately sized for a race this epic. Only race I've been to where you finish running inside a … MORE

    Always has a fun theme and new medal, which of course is appropriately sized for a race this epic. Only race I’ve been to where you finish running inside a climate controlled building. If it’s cold outside you can wait inside (a few steps from the start line) until just minutes before the race start. Great affordable city with good breweries. I recommend Lost Forty, Flyway, Diamond Bear and Rebel Kettle. Plus there is a free trolley that will take you around downtown Little Rock and give you a little history on the city!

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    mindylou FIRST-TIMER '20

    The atmosphere was fabulous. The course was really good with nothing to leave you bored. A good mix of flat with hills. Loved the community involvement throughout the entire course. … MORE

    The atmosphere was fabulous. The course was really good with nothing to leave you bored. A good mix of flat with hills. Loved the community involvement throughout the entire course. The hills were challenging but not too horrible. Will be signing up again next year. I stayed at the Marriott it was pretty expensive more than I would have liked to have paid but nice in the fact that I could leave my room and be right where I needed to be and the same when I finished. Overall GREAT experience and excited about n next year.

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    My daughter and I signed up for this race and I didn’t know what to expect. We drove from Chicago, and I must say it was totally worth it! What … MORE

    My daughter and I signed up for this race and I didn’t know what to expect. We drove from Chicago, and I must say it was totally worth it! What a great weekend. The race operations were really smooth. I did my first combo – 10K Saturday and 13.1 on Sunday. There was a large crowd, but it didn’t feel overwhelming. I walked out of my hotel 10 minutes before the race started and was in my corral and ready to go. The race had some really fun stops – an entire cycling glass greeted us at one point! I took a selfie with the Governor of Arkansas in front of his mansion at around mile 10! And the lipstick station at mile 13 was unique.

    Little Rock as a destination was great… everything was so easy to get to and very walkable – we parked our car Friday and it sat until we left Sunday afternoon. We walked and used Lime scooters to get around. The city had great food, shopping and sites!

    We are already talking about bringing friends back for next year!

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    [email protected] REPEAT RUNNER '20

    I enjoyed this better than all the other years I’d done it because the weather was good! All the other years were either cold or rainy or both. This one … MORE

    I enjoyed this better than all the other years I’d done it because the weather was good! All the other years were either cold or rainy or both. This one was in the 50s and only rained for maybe 2 minutes. It was an absolutely amazing experience in good weather. They have plenty of port-a-potties and aid and drink stations on the way. There were so many people cheering us on too! I felt so happy and blessed during the race! There was an elderly hearing impaired man doing the race with a walker, as well as visually impaired runners. I say this to point out not only how encouraging these runners are, but also how good the LR marathon is at accommodating for runners/walkers with special needs. Asa Hutchinson was also out saying hi to people outside the governor’s mansion which was cool.

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    lorimodo FIRST-TIMER '20

    This was a no brainer choice for my Arkansas race. Of course I wanted that huge medal for running the marathon. I loved that they offered the early start for … MORE

    This was a no brainer choice for my Arkansas race. Of course I wanted that huge medal for running the marathon.

    I loved that they offered the early start for people who would take 6:30 or more to finish. That way we could finish in the middle instead of the end. And another great perk due to the early start, no lines at the Porta Potties at the beginning of the route.

    There were hills, but they weren’t too bad. Crowd support along the way was wonderful. Loved all the people out there. I recommend it.

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    My dad and I drove from St. Louis for this race and we were not disappointed. We did the half marathon (#8 for me). For the last couple of years … MORE

    My dad and I drove from St. Louis for this race and we were not disappointed. We did the half marathon (#8 for me). For the last couple of years it had rained during race day, but we got very lucky this year with sunshine and 65 degree temps. Every year, they have a different theme to the race and this year was 80’s themed. Everything was themed from e.g. the race expo, the medal, the bib.

    The course itself had a large out-and-back section. This was between miles 5 through 8, if I remember correctly. I personally don’t like out-and-backs, but to each their own. The race was fueled with bananas, so if you’re use to other fueling sources like gels, I suggest that you bring your own. Another thing that I thought was really cute was the L’Oreal lipstick booth right before the finish line. I definitely recommend this race to midwesterners. The bling is awesome and an overall fun experience.

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    DaisySage FIRST-TIMER '20

    Lots of race support: plenty of water/fuel stations and porta potties. Great race route! Fun expo and easy access if you stay downtown. The race medals are the ABSOLUTE best!!!!!!!!!! … MORE

    Lots of race support: plenty of water/fuel stations and porta potties.
    Great race route!
    Fun expo and easy access if you stay downtown.
    The race medals are the ABSOLUTE best!!!!!!!!!!

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    DaisySage FIRST-TIMER '20

    Lots of race support: plenty of water/fuel stations, porta potties and also, locals and businesses providing snacks and beer! Great race route! Fun expo and easy access if you stay … MORE

    Lots of race support: plenty of water/fuel stations, porta potties and also, locals and businesses providing snacks and beer!
    Great race route!
    Fun expo and easy access if you stay downtown.
    The race medals are the ABSOLUTE best!!!!!!!!!!

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    aussiemomNLR REPEAT RUNNER '20

    I've been racing in Little Rock since 2015, and every year the weather is unpredictable, at best! At worst, it's sleeting, snowing & has the potential to be called before … MORE

    I’ve been racing in Little Rock since 2015, and every year the weather is unpredictable, at best! At worst, it’s sleeting, snowing & has the potential to be called before the time limit! This year it was unseasonably perfect, even a little warm at times – in the 50s at start and ending in the 60s. The hills are unforgiving, even the downhills (see: Lookout), and the out & backs are relentless, with no end in sign it seems. But the crowd support is incomparable. I’ve raced in almost 100 difference races across 8 states, and none have had the support, the volunteers, the aid, the number of DJs, and the [wildest] assortment of donuts, mimosas, pickles, beer, candy, tater tots, communion, and grilled pineapple being passed out as fuel, as has Little Rock. At times, the miles disappear because you’re so enthralled with spectating the spectators! It’s a bucket list race for sure. Just make sure you leave plenty of weight available in your luggage for the dinner-plate-sized medal.

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