Hatfield McCoy Marathon: Kentucky and West Virginia 

My general rule is never to run the same race twice.   The Hatfield McCoy Marathon is an exception, as it’s such a fun and extraordinary race.  

Last year, the 50 States Marathon Club had a reunion at the Hatfield McCoy Marathon and I decided to come and meet the members of the crazy club devoted to supporting people running a marathon in every state.

The full marathon begins in Goody, Kentucky and ends in Williamson, West Virginia.  According to the 50 States Marathon Club rules, the race can count as either state.

In 2014, I counted this race as West Virginia.  I had such a great time that I returned this year for Kentucky. 
 The race director, David Hatfield, along with the Tug Valley Road Runners, works tirelessly to ensure that every detail is perfect and every participant has a great time.  
The race highlights the famed feud between the Hatfield family and the McCoy family, dating back to the 1860s. 

Race weekend begins with packet pick-up, a community pasta dinner (included with entry fee!), and a skit between professional local actors playing Devil Anse Hatfield and Randolph McCoy.

With very few hotels in the surrounding area, the fire departments opened their doors to runners, charging $25 for an air mattress, sheets, towels and a hot shower.  We joined 50 other runners sleeping in the Belfry Fire Station.  The warm hospitality in this community was so comforting! 

Race morning was exciting, as I was surrounded by anxious runners performing their pre-race rituals.  

The race start was outside of the local supermarket, Food City, which opened early for the runners to get coffee, use the restrooms and buy any last minute items.   

Ole Ran’l McCoy and Devil Anse Hatfield were on hand to provide the shotgun start to the race. 

 The race course runs past many of the historic sites of the feud, throughout the Tug Valley and the Big Sandy River.  The sites include the McCoy pig farm (one theory is that the feud began over the Hatfield tribe stealing some hogs), the courthouse where the trial of the theft took place, the pawpaw bushes where Hatfields took charge of the situation, and the homes of many members of the family. 

The most difficult section of the course was  between miles 4-8, up Blackberry mountain.  Last year, Jeff famously surprised me and other runners with a sign at the base of the mountain:   

 Jeff also laced up his shoes to run me through other difficult portions of the course.   

We also found my sign!  Return runners are greeted with signs along the course! 

There were many other surprises along the way, including the world’s smallest horses, hillbilly bands, baby farm animals and Mountain Dew moonshine. 

And finally, in race tradition, we stopped at the Dairy Queen at mile 25.5 for a cone, and returned to finish the race, ice cream in hand.  

 I highly recommend this race to anyone looking for a friendly, quirky, no-time limit, fun race! 

 Race Tip: Always consider the season when planning a destination race and plan accordingly.  Learn from me, as I wasn’t prepared for the 95 degree temperatures of this Summer race in the South.  Dress in layers and have sunscreen and extra water and snacks on hand! Happy Running! 

4 thoughts on “Hatfield McCoy Marathon: Kentucky and West Virginia 

  1. Looks like an amazing experience! I’ll have to check that one out someday. The NYC Marathon will be my 8th state this November, and my 22nd marathon overall. Hope to see you out there on a race course one day!

    1. Wow! Are you trying to run all 50 states? NYC is my top choice but I can’t seem to win that lotto. Have a great race and I hope to see you soon!

      1. Well, all 50 states? I guess it’s a nice dream. May take me a lifetime, but I just love running, so wherever it takes me, is ok with me. Didn’t start my journey with that goal in mind, but now that I will be running in my 8th state, it may be a possibility.

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