Jeff Galloway, a member of the 1972 U.S. Olympic team and author of more than a dozen books on running, called the Hatfield-McCoy Marathon one of the toughest road marathons in the U.S., thanks to its challenging hills through the mountains of the Tug Fork river valley along the border between Kentucky and West Virginia.
Runners start the race at about 675 feet and reach 1,270 feet at the course's highest point – and 500 feet of that rise occurs within a single mile, near Blackberry Mountain between miles 6 and 7.
Along the route, runners make their way through "feud country," past many of the historic sites where the Hatfields and McCoys fought between 1863 and 1891. While the feud didn't officially end until a truce was signed in 2003, the peace seems to have taken hold: David Hatfield, the race's director and a descendant of the Hatfield family, plans to train for next year's race with a local resident who is a real descendant of the McCoys.
A rock, a mason jar, and a horse shoe – these are the finisher’s medals really worth running for!
In West Virginia, the guys find an old general store that had a lot of Hatfield customers around the time of the legendary feud between the Hatfields & McCoys. There are a few artifacts with the Hatfields name, but are they authentic? In Eddie's Georgia garage, share his passion for items like toys planes, a go-cart, and a rare Harley frame and motor. And Jeff has a picker's playground overflowing with awesome stuff that he says he's ready to sell. But getting him to really part with some of it calls on the Pickers most persuasive powers.
This hot, hilly race passes through historical sites and rural Appalachian towns where Main Streets are just a block long, stoplights are scarce, and the locals dress up their livestock for the 350 runners’ amusement. Before the start, organizers assign every entrant to a team—half are Hatfields and the other half McCoys (like the families involved in the infamous feud). Whichever group finishes with a faster average race time wins. There aren’t many hotels nearby, so book your room early. Race director Alexis Batausa says he’s working on securing a camping option, but it’s not yet a done deal.
Good to Know A man who lives between miles eight and nine claims to own the world’s smallest horse and encourages runners to snap a selfie with it.
What: A delightfully hipster mason jar
Which race: Hatfield McCoy Marathon,
Williamson, W.Virginia, USA
Next race: June 11, 2016
Covet factor: 9
This race started from humble beginnings in 2000 with just 13 competitors, and it now welcomes over 1,000. The marathon travels through two states, West Virginia and Kentucky. Finishers are given a cool medal and mason jar.