LITTLE ROCK, AR - The 12th annual Little Rock Marathon kicks off this Sunday in downtown Little Rock and race organizers think this year’s race will be “Epic.”
Of course, that’s this year’s theme. More than 12,000 runners are expected to take part in the marathon, half-marathon, 10k or 5k races.
And for those who finish… they will be greeted with a medal of “epic” proportions, according to Executive Director, Geneva Lamm.
“We think that everybody, when they cross that finish line, should get the medal that represents what they just did and we think it’s a huge achievement and for most people it is. So, we want to give a huge honkin' medal,” says Lamm.
But before we talk about this year’s two and half pound medal, let’s take a trip back in time.
The first Little Rock Marathon was held in May of 2003. Roughly 823 runners laced up their shoes and hit the pavement. The race was a huge success, despite the weather.
“I think on that particular weekend there were tornadoes everywhere. We were very, very fortunate. It was pretty amazing,” Lamm recalls.
As for the medal itself, it was pretty basic and the theme was fairly tame, “A Race for Every Pace.”
Over the next two years the only thing that changed was the color of the medal. But in 2006, Lamm and her sidekick, Gina Pharis, decided to spice things up.
“We’re both women. You can’t have the same thing...you’ve got to have something new every year. We didn’t want everybody to have the same thing that came to the race next year. So we had to change it up,” says Lamm.
So they came up with a wild and crazy theme...and the medal started to grow. In 2006, the theme was “Big and Bodacious” just like the medal. And for the first time ever, it featured a “spinner” a circular disk in the middle of the medal that you can spin.
“It’s just a great toy...you can have fun with it and hang it from your car if you want,” Lamm says.
The idea of having an annual theme took off from there. In 2007, it was “Runapalooza” followed by “Six in the City in 2008. That medal also featured something else which had never been seen before...a pair of lips. Lamm says those lips belong to Pharis and it was actually her idea because “we love our participants and nobody has lips on their medals.”
The themes continued to grow...and so did the size of the medals, which are believed by some to be the biggest and heaviest marathon medals in the country. In fact, if you were to combine all 12 Little Rock marathon medals and weigh them, it would be just shy of 20 pounds.
Lamm says, “If you’re gonna do something, might as well have fun with it.”
But how do Lamm and Pharis come up with these wild and wacky ideas and where do they get their inspiration?
“I look at album covers… vinyl album covers. The art on those are a very visual thing,” Lamm says.
As for this year’s “Epic” medal, Lamm says her inspiration came from a comic book.
“I grew up reading comic books and I thought it was the perfect opportunity to put a little bit of comic book influence into it. You know everyone can dress up to be a superhero,” she says.
12 years of history, memories, themes and huge honkin' medals that have received not just national recognition, but international recognition, along with the envy of other race directors who are now playing catch up and following their lead.
“It’s just part of the insanity...part of the insanity...all that is the Little Rock Marathon,” says Lamm.
So what can runners expect for next year’s marathon?
Click here to watch my web extra interview with Lamm...it’s funny!
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