By Kyle Lovern
Two returning runners came in first in the men’s and women’s division of the 15th-annual Hatfield & McCoy Marathon held this past Saturday in the Tug Valley.
Grant Stieglitz of Fort Wayne, Ind., and Maggie Guterl of Philadelphia won in the popular race that brought in runners from 44 states.
For Stieglitz, it was his second straight win, while Guterl improved from her runner-up finish last summer.
Stieglitz didn’t have as good a time with this year’s win coming in at 3:03:3, compared to last year’s 2:50 finish.
“I was just trying to be consistent,” Stieglitz said. “The humidity was tougher this year.”
Guterl returned from Philadelphia this year and got the win in the women’s division. This is her 30th marathon.
“I knew the course from last year,” she said while celebrating with other runners on Second Avenue in Williamson. “It’s a tough course with the rolling hills.”
Many runners talk 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.
The Hatfield & McCoy Marathon runs by many of the original locations of the renowned feud, which is known world-wide.
“This was a good win for me,” Guterl added. “They put on a great race here. This is a nice, historic town.”
Stieglitz and Guterl, 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 will sit on their porch and cheer for the marathoners 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.
Stieglitz stayed at the Belfry (Ky.) Volunteer Fire Department barracks, who offered cots and air mattresses for runners. Guterl stayed at the historic Mountaineer Hotel in downtown Williamson.
Runners stayed in hotels in Logan, Pikeville and other locations in the region.
Temperatures at the start of the race were around 60 degrees and only about 75 by 12 noon, however by later in the afternoon they reached the 80-degree mark. The skies were sunny and clear, making it great day weather wise for the race.
Stieglitz is one of those long distance runners who hopes to run a marathon in all 50 states. With last year’s event and this year’s race, he can now mark Kentucky and West Virginia on his list. This makes his 15th marathon. The Hatfield-McCoy Marathon route goes through the two states, but it can only count as one state with a finish.
More than 1,100 runners participated in either the full marathon, one of two half marathons or the 5-K race.
Each runner that finished received a medal, T-shirt and Mason-jar trophy.