Overall Rating
Overall Rating (147 Reviews)
4.6
(147 Ratings)  (147 Reviews)
DIFFICULTY
3.3
SCENERY
3.8
PRODUCTION
4.6
SWAG
4.4
Named as one of Runner’s World “Bucket List: 10 Great Marathons for First-Timers” in 2017, come fill your bucket at the 20th Annual Little Rock Marathon, Half Marathon, 10K, 5K, and Little Rockers Kids Marathon. A race with personality, loads of southern hospitality, tons of caring volunteers, a running or … MORE
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Recent reviews

    pbegno FIRST-TIMER '22

    Very Well Organized, Expo had some great vendors and the Medal was Awesome! Very impressive and huge! The finish line was packed with lines of great food and drink. We … MORE

    Very Well Organized, Expo had some great vendors and the Medal was Awesome! Very impressive and huge! The finish line was packed with lines of great food and drink. We stayed at Downtown RV Park and rode our bikes to the Expo! There was a chance of rain but turned out to be a beautiful day for a run!

    DIFFICULTY
    3
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    5
    SCENERY
    5
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    5
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    I Absolutely loved this race! Hyped from EXPO to the finish line! Great volunteers! Great entertainment! Great snacks and fuel along the course! I did the 5k on Saturday and … MORE

    I Absolutely loved this race! Hyped from EXPO to the finish line! Great volunteers! Great entertainment! Great snacks and fuel along the course! I did the 5k on Saturday and the Half on Sunday so I received 3 Great medals in all! Nice technical short sleeve shirts for each race! The weather, I’ve heard can be awful but Saturday ‘s weather for the 5k was great! It was supposed to be thunderstorms on Sunday during the half and the full, but we prayed the storms away. It was a bit humid on Sunday but no storms! I’ll take that! Just a great race! Some hills but they give my calfs a break from running a completely flat course. This is a great, exciting and fun race to do! I recommend it highly! 👌

    DIFFICULTY
    3
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    3
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    3

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    todd17406 FIRST-TIMER '22

    Unfortunately, the 20th anniversary Marathon brought along the warmest recorded race day temperatures in it's history. A muggy 72 to 78 degrees welcomed the Marathoners this year. Besides the weather … MORE

    Unfortunately, the 20th anniversary Marathon brought along the warmest recorded race day temperatures in it’s history. A muggy 72 to 78 degrees welcomed the Marathoners this year. Besides the weather though, it is very obvious that this event is extremely important to Little Rock. There are a lot of talented people involved and the result is a very thoroughly well run event.
    Pros: Event organization is top notch.
    Warm Convention center available at start/finish.
    Race Medal is unbelievably HUGE!
    Cons: considerable hills on 2nd half of course. (May have seemed worse due to the temp being a muggy 75 in the beginning of March) Normal temps are 50s, so we had a bad luck weather year.

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    4

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    ofshadowsgrey FIRST-TIMER '22

    This race has been praised by so many runners and for good reason. Amazing energy from start to finish, so engaging and inviting. On course entertainment from locals was amazing … MORE

    This race has been praised by so many runners and for good reason. Amazing energy from start to finish, so engaging and inviting. On course entertainment from locals was amazing and fun.
    Post race goodies was great: so much good food and beer.
    Of course the medal was huge and amazing. since it was the 20th anniversary the medal was a huge ’20’ with tiny versions of all the past years medals

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    seagroves87 FIRST-TIMER '22

    I chose this race for Little Rock because of good word of mouth and of course the medals. I would've loved to do the full marathon for the biggest medal … MORE

    I chose this race for Little Rock because of good word of mouth and of course the medals. I would’ve loved to do the full marathon for the biggest medal ever but I had to leave Sunday afternoon and wasn’t sure I would be done on time to fit with my travel plans so I did the half marathon. For the race I stayed at the Marriot which is the host hotel. This is super convenient as the convention center, which is where the race expo is and where the race ends, is connected to the hotel. It was on the pricier side but not too bad for a race weekend host hotel. There are other cheaper hotels in walking distance as well. The expo was pretty good. It was much better than Atlanta though not as big as Miami. Packet pickup was easy. I did the 5K and half combo. Packet included a short sleeve tech shirt for both, the two bibs and a race poster. The bibs were a very sturdy material and had your name. The expo had a good number of booths and the best was a pet therapy booth with rotating dogs. I stopped by the expo a few extra times to pet the dogs. Little Rock isn’t the most exciting town but there are a few museums such as the Bill Clinton Presidential Library within walking distance of the hotel. This is another race you don’t need a rental car though we did have one. There is also the River Market nearby which has lots of food vendors including a vegan restaurant. I was nervous for race day since the forecast predicted thunderstorms and I would’ve hated to travel to Little Rock for the race to get canceled and even if there wasn’t thunder I was not looking forward to another rainy race. Luckily the weather held off and it was in the 60s. It was a bit humid but pretty nice running weather. There was just an occasional drizzle during the race which felt good. The start is right behind the hotel so I just rolled out of bed and left about 15 minutes before the race starts. You are assigned a corral and everyone seemed to be in the right corral from what I saw but there was a mass start and no stopping between corrals to let runners space out. This did cause the course to be more congested than Miami and Atlanta and one recommendation I would have is to wait 2 minutes or so between corrals to help space it better. I will admit I did not love the course scenery and I almost rated the race 4 sneakers because of this but the rest of the race was so well done I kept it at 5 sneakers. The start in downtown Little Rock is relatively interesting. I mean as interesting as Little Rock can be. Then you go across the big bridge that crosses the Arkansas River and the next section is really, unscenic and not very nice few miles. You then crossed back on the bridge back to downtown then there are a few more miles that go through a park and neighborhood and are just okay. Near the end is the best part going past the governor’s mansion. This part is very nice and the governor is even out waving to the runners. This was an interesting race to contrast to Atlanta. While this race did not have the best scenery, there was a ton of spectator support and on course entertainment so the miles flew by. Even with the threat of bad weather and occasional drizzle the whole town was out. There were also lots of “unofficial” aid stations with goodies and alcohol if you drink. One other minor complaint I have is I don’t think there was quite enough official aid stations. I think there were 5. The volunteers were great and very high energy but I needed a lot of water due to the humidity luckily I was carrying water. Also the gatorade was watermelon flavored and very watered down. The course was very well marked and easy to follow and had mile markers. I didn’t think the course was too difficult or too hilly. I’ve heard it’s a hilly course but it had about half the elevation gain of Atlanta. My Garmin had 350 ft elevation gain. The only hard part was most of the hills were at the end with the beginning and middle more flat. At the finish line there are a ton of spectators and a large finish arch. Due to the high energy, good weather and not too difficult course I was able to finish my goal of under 3 hours which I was very happy with. I’m getting faster each race since my injury so I am hoping to be back to my usual half marathon time of 2:30 to 2:45 by next month. After the finish line you go back to the convention center for the post race celebration. There you get your medal. The half medal is huge and the marathon medal is literally the size of your head. You also get a combo medal if you did a 5K or 10K on Saturday. The design this year was for the 20h anniversary and included images from all the past races. To be honest I thought the design was a little busy but loved the size and quality of the medal. There was a good post race food selection that all appeared to be vegetarian with pasta with marinara sauce, bananas, chips, trail mix, soda, beer, milk, and yogurt. There were tables set up in the convention center. I had to get the airport around 12:30 so I didn’t stay but it looked fun. Another perk of the hotel is there is noon check out so I was able to shower after the race before I left. Overall while this was not my favorite course I loved the energy of the race and the huge medals. I would definitely recommend this race for Arkansas. If I lived closer or if Little Rock was easier to fly to I would definitely do this again and even so am considering coming back someday for the marathon for the huge medal.

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    onepamperedgirl REPEAT RUNNER '22

    You never know what you are going to get in Arkansas when it comes to the weather. The forecast called for thunderstorms race morning. It rained some off and on. … MORE

    You never know what you are going to get in Arkansas when it comes to the weather. The forecast called for thunderstorms race morning. It rained some off and on. Humidity was the worst part of it! The aide stations were packed with plenty of help. The crowds were cheering folks on. Felt like a pre covid race! It was great to see folks dressed up from past themes out on the course.

    The race expo crowds were down at the time I went to get my packet which was disappointing. Still got to hit up my fav running stores that were present.

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    johnaaronhowell FIRST-TIMER '22

    I was nervous going into this race because the forecast predicted thunderstorms, but thankfully it only rained for ~30 seconds total! The course was a fairly scenic loop through downtown … MORE

    I was nervous going into this race because the forecast predicted thunderstorms, but thankfully it only rained for ~30 seconds total!

    The course was a fairly scenic loop through downtown Little Rock and North Little Rock. There were many cute streets and parks that we ran by with lots of art.

    The crowd support was incredible! There were tons of people lining the streets for nearly the whole race, and that really helped with motivation.

    The race expo was fairly good, and the post race activities were nice as well (although they were all indoors in the convention center).

    Also, as all the other reviews say, this medal is HUGE — even for the half marathon! My first response when the volunteer put it around my neck was, “Wow! This is heavy!”

    I highly recommend running in Little Rock, and I’ll definitely go back some day.

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    KAM914 FIRST-TIMER '22

    The Little Rock Marathon was very well-organized. The organizers communicated well, with email updates, through social media, and through their own custom race app. The expo was smaller than some … MORE

    The Little Rock Marathon was very well-organized. The organizers communicated well, with email updates, through social media, and through their own custom race app. The expo was smaller than some that I’ve been to, but there was still a good amount of vendors to explore. Race morning was very smooth, and I liked how they had an athletes’ village inside the convention center, which then led outdoors straight to the corrals. This meant indoor bathrooms instead of portapotties! (They had portapotties outside as well, but having the option of indoor was very much appreciated.) At the finish, they give you your medal and then funnel you back inside the convention center for food/photos/gear check. Again, very smooth, no confusion. From what family and friends told me, the custom app worked fine and they had no issues getting my tracking updates.

    The course itself was not very scenic; there was a cool bridge we went over twice, and we passed the governor’s mansion (the governor was outside cheering runners on), but then there were some industrial and quiet back roads that didn’t have any spectators. Once we were back in the more residential/business areas, there were a good amount of spectators. Course support was great – it was very humid since the forecast said thunderstorms (that never happened), but I never noticed the aid stations running out of water/gatorade due to people probably taking extra with the humidity. I found the course to be pretty flat, except for a few small hills toward the end. Everyone involved with the race was friendly – from the expo, to the volunteers at aid stations, to the finish line volunteers. And as I’m sure you’ve read in other reviews, the medal is HUGE – and I only did the Half. I saw marathoners walking back later on and those medals were the size of a dinner plate!

    In terms of travel and sightseeing, there were plenty of hotels within walking distance to the start, and a decent amount of restaurants. Beware though – a good amount of the restaurants were closed on Sunday, so there were less options for post-race brunch than pre-race carb loading. If you have a car, I recommend going to see Little Rock Central High School and learning about the Civil Rights history there, as well as driving out to see the town of Hot Springs (about an hour away).

    All in all, I recommend this race!

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    seagroves87 FIRST-TIMER '22

    My mom visited Little Rock with me since she wants to visit every presidential library so wanted to visit Little Rock to go to the Bill Clinton Presidential Library. We … MORE

    My mom visited Little Rock with me since she wants to visit every presidential library so wanted to visit Little Rock to go to the Bill Clinton Presidential Library. We arrived Friday morning and walked the 5K together on Saturday. I also did the half on Sunday and you can read that review for more details. We got our packets at the expo Friday afternoon and included a short sleeved tech shirt. This was also an easy race morning since the start was behind the hotel. Weather was beautiful Saturday. The course was a nice 5K through downtown Little Rock. This 5K shows some of the more scenic areas though I wouldn’t call Little Rock particularly scenic. It was a really nice race with a ton of participants in costumes and quite a few spectators for the shorter distances. It was well marked. It was pretty flat just a few gentle rollers. If I were running it and at my usual fitness level even with my really low threshold to walk hills I would have been able to run it all. Since I was with my mom we just walked but we were a few minutes faster than last week. Finish was also at convention center and even the 5K medal is huge. It is much smaller than the Little Rock half marathon medal but about the same size as most of my other half marathon medals. You also get a challenge medal if you do the Saturday 5K or 10K with the Sunday half or full. There was not great post-race food for the 5K just water and bananas. If you are able to I would recommend trying to add on the 5K or 10K to your race weekend

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    dchaplin1990 FIRST-TIMER '21

    The medal is so big and is hands down the best medal to recieve. Everyone is so friendly and the on course support is outstanding, and will be definitely be … MORE

    The medal is so big and is hands down the best medal to recieve. Everyone is so friendly and the on course support is outstanding, and will be definitely be making a return trip for the full marathon.

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    5

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    You can sign up for multiple races during the weekend. This is one of my favorite medals. Great expo and well put together race. I love the theme and all … MORE

    You can sign up for multiple races during the weekend. This is one of my favorite medals. Great expo and well put together race. I love the theme and all the runners dressed up. Super fun for the whole family!

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    tiffwhit FIRST-TIMER '21

    The chicks definitely deliver! Thus far I have ran 22 races across the country and this was one of the best organized races and did I mention the medals? The … MORE

    The chicks definitely deliver! Thus far I have ran 22 races across the country and this was one of the best organized races and did I mention the medals? The course is moderately challenging. The start and finish line were great, I didn’t mind the modified course, and felt water stops along the way were adequate. To me, the best part of this race was hours after many were finished we walked past the finish line again, to which they were still set up and announcing finishers as they came in. Most races would have torn down and moved on, but not this race, way to support the participants from start to finish!

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    juliehirota FIRST-TIMER '21

    This is a well organized race, with the biggest finisher medal. They pulled together an excellent quality during the pandemic. Absolutely loved it. MORE

    This is a well organized race, with the biggest finisher medal. They pulled together an excellent quality during the pandemic. Absolutely loved it.

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    Tank3872 REPEAT RUNNER '21

    The course changed up this year, spent quite a bit more time and miles in NLR due to the I30 construction going on. We did get lucky that the rain … MORE

    The course changed up this year, spent quite a bit more time and miles in NLR due to the I30 construction going on. We did get lucky that the rain held off, the race itself was good, great spectator support and an interesting course as it went all around downtown NLR and LR. I will tell you the hills in the final 4 miles make it a tougher run, I did however score a PR on this course. The medals are awesome and huge as I’ve come to expect, also the pst race food was really good, only pasta and bananas though, but plenty of beverages available.

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    amy.schaumburg FIRST-TIMER '21

    Great little town. Gigantic medals (really, a bit too big, but memorable), fabulous on-course support including a large number of CLEAN potties at practically every aid station, amazing, friendly folks … MORE

    Great little town. Gigantic medals (really, a bit too big, but memorable), fabulous on-course support including a large number of CLEAN potties at practically every aid station, amazing, friendly folks and an easy walk to start/finish. You hope that city races show you the things that are best about their city and this one did not disappoint. We even saw the governor standing outside the governor’s mansion saying hello to everyone. I mean, how often does that happen!?!?! Moving the race to mid-autumn due to COVID was great as the fall colors were so beautiful and the weather perfection for running. My friend and I loved everything about this race.

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    onepamperedgirl REPEAT RUNNER '21

    If you want the "Bling" then you run Little Rock. This year all of the race courses were changed up due to construction. I actually liked this course better than … MORE

    If you want the “Bling” then you run Little Rock. This year all of the race courses were changed up due to construction. I actually liked this course better than the previous ones. Covid restrictions moved this race from March to November. The rain held off and made for an amazing running day. The expo was smaller this year that it has been in years past but there were numerous races that same weekend. I am already signed up to do it all over again in March!

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    DrewNYC REPEAT RUNNER '21

    This review is from 2021 - the race was run in November this year instead of the normal March weekend. The medals, though, still have the March dates on them. … MORE

    This review is from 2021 – the race was run in November this year instead of the normal March weekend. The medals, though, still have the March dates on them.

    I ran the Little Rock Full Marathon back in 2016. It remains as the LARGEST race medal that I’ve ever received. When it came time to come back to Arkansas to run a half, the choice was easy. I came for the bling!

    I stayed at the host hotel (Marriott). The Convention Center (where the expo is located) is attached to the hotel. The finish line area is also in the Convention Center, so this hotel is very convenient.

    I did the 5k on Saturday and the half marathon on Sunday so that I could leave the weekend with 3 medals. The medals are great – even if they are smaller than the full marathon medal.

    Every running of this race has a theme. This year’s theme was “Runderland”. The theme is carried through to the swag, the “decorations” (for lack of a better word) at the expo and throughout the weekend, and to the medal, of course. Additionally, many runners get into the theme and dress up.

    The half course wasn’t very scenic and there were the occasional hills. Running across Broadway Bridge is a high point of the course (figuratively but not literally).

    The finish area had plenty of food and drink options–pasta, bananas, cookies plus chocolate milk, soda, and beer. Food outside of the finish area was a little harder to get. I’m not sure if it is always like this or if it is do to staffing shortages, but lots of restaurants were closed or open limited hours. So there were waits wherever you wanted to go.

    It’s a fun a weekend with great race swag. I highly recommend considering this race for those runners looking to knock Arkansas off their full or half marathon state list.

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    bryantcam41 REPEAT RUNNER '20

    This race has the best Swag in regards to medals. The course is fun. Volunteers do an awesome job with cheering and encouraging. Along this course, you will past the … MORE

    This race has the best Swag in regards to medals. The course is fun. Volunteers do an awesome job with cheering and encouraging. Along this course, you will past the Historic Central High School. If you decide to run this course, please be prepared to put some work in during the second half of the course (Full). Parking is super easy, available and close to the start/finish.

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    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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    usamhall Feb 28, 2022 at 3:18pm

    Hope you don't mind me putting my two cents in here, Michael. But for those of us who are back of the packers the early start is quite wonderful. I… MORE

    Hope you don't mind me putting my two cents in here, Michael. But for those of us who are back of the packers the early start is quite wonderful. I always enjoy seeing my fellow 50 Staters and Maniacs in Little Rock. Every time I am there I learn something more about LR. Hey, don't forget the best fish and a fishbowl of beer at the Flying Fish. LESS

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    M_Sohaskey Mar 01, 2022 at 2:49pm

    Agreed and thanks for the add, Michael! Little Rock did seem to do a great job of catering to all paces. Glad to see you'll be enjoying the LR festivities… MORE

    Agreed and thanks for the add, Michael! Little Rock did seem to do a great job of catering to all paces. Glad to see you'll be enjoying the LR festivities again this weekend—run well, and hope you'll let us know how it goes! LESS

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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

    DIFFICULTY
    3
    PRODUCTION
    4
    SCENERY
    4
    SWAG
    3

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  1. Races
  2. Little Rock Marathon