WILLIAMSON — The 16th annual Hatfield and McCoy Marathon took place yesterday with races that began at Food City in South Williamson, Ky. and in Matewan, W.Va.
Over 1,000 runners began the races early in the morning with perfect temperatures but ended with hot and muggy weather that runners continued to race right through until they reached the finish line.
The full marathon, the double-half marathon and the Blackberry half-marathon will began at Food City at 7:00 a.m. The double-half marathon counted as two separate races, which allowed participants to run in two different states, West Virginia and Kentucky.
The River Road marathon began in Matewan at 8:00 a.m. and the second part of the double half race began in Matewan as well at 10:00 a.m.
The Hatfield & McCoy Marathon runs by many of the original locations of the renowned feud, which is known world-wide.
The 5-K marathon began and ended in Williamson on Second Avenue at 8:45 a.m.
The first to cross the full marathon finish line was Johnathan Kinsey of South Carolina. Kinsey finished the 26.2 mile race in two hours and fifty-eight minutes, coming across the finish line before last year’s winner, Grant Stieglitz of Fort Wayne, Indiana. Stieglitz did participate again this year.
“It’s hot! But this is a great race, it was awesome,” said Kinsey.
The second runner to cross the finish line of the full marathon was James Sullivan of Boston, Massachusetts. Sullivan crossed the line in just over three hours.
“I over-heated in the end. It’s so hot and humid here,” said Sullivan.
Many runners talked about “Blackberry Mountain,” which is a steep mountain early in the race that some say is tougher than the “Heartbreak Ridge” in the famed Boston Marathon.
Kinsey and Sullivan, along with many other out of town runners, raved about the local race and the hospitality the Tug Valley race has. They also talked about the beautiful and natural scenery along the race route.
Both talked about how local residents sat on their porches and cheered for them as they run by their homes. Many local residents also line the streets of downtown Williamson at the finish line encouraging runners as they cross the line.
Runners stayed in hotels in Logan, Pikeville and other locations in the region.
Sullivan is one of those long distance runners who hopes to run a marathon in all 50 states. With this year’s race, he can now mark Kentucky and West Virginia on his list. This makes his 32nd marathon throughout 25 states. The Hatfield-McCoy Marathon route goes through the two states, but it can only count as one state with a finish.
Each runner was greeted at the finish line with applauds and awarded with a medal.