In 2014, members of the Fayetteville Firefighters IAFF Local 2866 wanted to create a fundraiser to commemorate the sacrifices that firefighters, law enforcement and first responders made on September 11, 2001 and the sacrifices they continue to make every day. In collaboration with The Spark Foundation, the Fayetteville Firefighters created the Hero Half Marathon, which consists of a one-mile fun run, a half marathon, a firefighter challenge, and a fire safety fair.
But what makes this race stand out from all of the others? Without a doubt it’s the firefighter challenge. Every year local firefighters run the 13.1-mile half marathon course while wearing 50 pounds of bunker gear as a tribute to those who put their lives in danger to protect their communities.
“To me, the best, most inspirational part of the race would be the firefighter challenge,” Jennifer Kurtz said. “It’s incredibly awe-inspiring to watch these local heroes cross the finish line.”
This event isn’t just for locals though. The Hero Half Marathon welcomes participants from all over the country. In 2015, over 300 runners from 14 states participated and raised almost $20,000 for seven local charities: The Spark Foundation, Fayetteville Public Education Foundation, Fayetteville’s Movies in the Park, Arkansas Special Olympics, Muscular Dystrophy Association Arkansas, Fayetteville Firefighters Scholarship Fund, and Camp Sunshine.
This year’s half marathon will begin at Lewis & Clark Outfitters in Springdale and make a loop around Lake Fayetteville with a finish line ending at the Walton Arts Center in Fayetteville.
Photos courtesy of the Hero Half Marathon