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Saturday, June 8, 2002 -- Matewan, WV - Goody, KY
Hatfield-McCoy Marathon & Half Marathon (iPO Event Id#: 4870)
Story and photos by Ariana Kincaid

[Details] [Coverage]
[Overall Results] [Results by Class]
Pictures: [Set 1] [Set 2] [Set 3] [Set 4] [Set 5] [Set 6]

Race Start
Let's get this party started
The 2002 Hatfield-McCoy Marathon and Half-Marathon drew nearly 150 participants to and through Goody, Hardy, and Buskirk, Kentucky, and Matewan and Williamson, West Virginia. Along the route were places of interest to those with a Hatfield or McCoy in their ancestry from McCoy final resting places to homes of various Hatfields. Even though everyone in the race was designated either a Hatfield or a McCoy upon registration, there was little feuding or sight-seeing among the runners. Just putting one foot in front of another for 13.1 or 26.2 miles was enough of a challenge!

One person who appreciated the difficulty of the course was Carl Hatfield the official timer for the races and a native of Matewan. He is one of the most famous distance runners from West Virginia. In 1967, he became WVU's first All-American in Cross Country, and repeated that feat a year later. He organized the West Virginia Track Club, and led them to the Boston Marathon team championship in 1974, and the AAU national team championship in 1978. Hatfield also won the AAU national marathon championship in 1978 and represented the United States at several meets around the world. He credits the hills of southern West Virginia with preparing him for the famed "Heartbreak Hill" of the Boston Marathon. As he put it, "When you've trained all your life down here, Heartbreak Hill isn't a heartbreak, and it isn't much of a hill."

Another person who appreciated the difficulty of the course was Jared Smith. The Danville, West Virginia native was the first finisher in the Half Marathon, completing 13.1 miles in just 1:17:05. Smith said he felt a lot better this year than last year (when he also won the Half), saying, "I had fun with this race. I really did. I just went out there and ran what I knew I could. I had fun, and I feel good." Designated an honorary Hatfield, Smith also received the "Fastest Male Hatfield" Trophy.

Jared Smith
Jared Smith catches his breath after winning the half
One of the focal points of the town of Matewan is a large gallows. This is a contraption from which criminals (and likely some innocent folks) were hanged in the 1800s and early 1900s, and the one in Matewan is used in the play, "The Last Hanging in Pike County." Interestingly enough, the second place finisher, Bill Wright, is from Tombstone, Arizona, another town in which a gallows still stands. Wright, who just happened to be in West Virginia for last year's Half-Marathon, and liked it so much he came back this year, finished a full ten minutes behind Smith, with a time of 1:27:31. Wright was last year's second place winner as well, and was this year's "Fastest Male McCoy."

And finishing up a repeat of last year's top three, Randall Watts of Garner, Kentucky finished third with a time of 1:31:29. Watts, too, said that he felt better this year, saying, "I was better prepared this year. And even though I finished in the same place, I cut my time. That's always a good thing."

And Ed Meittinger, a "Halfer" from Philadelphia, had nothing but good words to say about the organization of the race. "The water stops were well placed, the course was well marked, and the race volunteers were very friendly and encouraging. I can't say enough."

The finish line for the Half-Marathon and the half-way point of the Marathon was really the place to be. Those finishing the Half were glad they were done, and those in the Marathon were glad to know the most challenging part of the course was over. It was also good for the Marathoners to hear the encouraging words of the spectators and race volunteers as they continued on through Matewan, onward to Williamson.

Race Pic
No stopping in Matewan for the marathoners
From Matewan through Sprigg to Williams was a relatively flat second 13.1 miles relative of course, and to the rigors of Blackberry Hill in the first 13.1. Each mile was marked with relief, some cold H2O to douse one's self with, and the relief of ticking off another mile toward the finish.

Feeling that relief first, after crossing the bridge into Williamson, and winding his way toward the historic Coal House, the first place finisher was 42 year old Bob Fargo, with a time of 3:20:26. Not far behind him was the second place finisher overall and first female finisher, with a time of 3:25:19, Robin Cannon. And wrapping up the top three was Mike Larkin, 27, i n 3:27:25.

In a flip-flop of the Half Marathon, where two forty-somethings finished behind a twenty-something, a twenty-something was bested by two forty-somethings. Could Williamson be the site of the famed Fountain of Youth? Be sure and come out next year to find out for yourself.

Also, this year, race director David Hatfield determined that there needed to be a measurable way to decide who -- the Hatfields or the McCoys -- could claim braggin' rights for the races. They take their feudin' seriously down there! Since everyone at the beginning of each race was designated either a Hatfield or a McCoy for determining the fastest Hatfield and McCoy, Dave thought he'd make it a little more interesting. So, at the end of each race, the times of the Hatfields were added up, and the times of the McCoys were added up, and the family with the lowest total finish time was declared the winner of that "feud". And the winners of this year's feud? It was split -- the Hatfields won the Marathon Feud, and the McCoys won the Half Marathon Feud! I'm sure all will return next year to settle a few scores...

Special thanks to Dave Hatfield, Carl Hatfield, Danny Elliott, Food City, Jeannie Rivard, Danny Elliott, and Power 107 FM for making the Hatfield McCoy Marathon and Half Marathon a huge success!