Under the leadership of Entertainment Chairman Regina Pacek, the Little Rock Marathon promises fun for every pace with energetic entertainment throughout the race.
By Jillian McGehee | Photography by Jodie Kelly | Makeup by Lauren Benet with Face Your Day Salon
Thousands of athletes will lace up their running shoes again this year for the 15th annual Little Rock Marathon. Set to a unique theme each year, the event is renowned for its extraordinary medals and energetic entertainment along the course. Behind this year’s fun is Entertainment Chairman Regina Pacek.
Regina recognizes the transformative power good entertainment has for runners who are facing fatigue and frustration along the race route. “I’ve been a runner my entire life, running distances from 5Ks to marathons. Having entertainment on the course is the best distraction ever,” Regina says.
“When you’re out there running and your mind is telling you that it hurts too much – you want to stop. Then you turn a corner and you hear people yelling ‘You got this,’ ‘You’re almost there,’ ‘Don’t stop now’ and there’s a band playing or even unofficial beer stops – it takes your mind off running. That is the best motivation!”
This Little Rock Marathon marks Regina’s first as an official volunteer – the race touts 2,000 volunteers annually. For nearly two decades the analyst and consultant at Acxiom Financial Services Group has provided support to various organizations around Central Arkansas, San Francisco and Delaware. She has participated in the Little Rock Marathon – running one relay and two half marathons.
Hosted the first weekend in March, race opportunities include a 5K, 10K and children’s mile on Saturday and a half marathon (13.1 miles) and a marathon (26.2 miles) on Sunday.
Last year’s marathon featured more than 60 cheer stations, Regina notes. “The Little Rock Marathon is known for two things: the size of the medals and the amount of entertainment on the course. People from all over the world come to this race because of the entertainment.”
Geneva Lamm, co-executive director of the Little Rock Marathon along with Gina Pharis, reports that all 50 states and more than 20 countries have been represented. This year for the “Runalicious” candy-themed event, organizers expect 12,000 to 13,000 participants, she adds.
The Little Rock Marathon is a major fundraiser for Little Rock Parks & Recreation, which maintains 60 developed parks and 12 undeveloped parks. The parks system offers a variety of recreational sports leagues, after-school and summer playground programs for children, outdoor recreation, therapeutic recreation and programs for senior citizens.
Over the years, the Little Rock Marathon has contributed about $750,000 for parks and recreation, Geneva says. “We’ve funded golf greens, replaced water lines, funded master plans and construction for various parks, provided sculptures and more.”
From businesses to churches and schools – Regina’s energy and enthusiasm is a winning combination for recruitment. “Anyone can join the fun and make a difference on race day for thousands of runners,” she notes.
This year’s festivities include the Athlete’s Village presented by Heifer International inside the Statehouse Convention Center. The Athlete’s Village is the hub of pre-race and post-race activities. It is open to the public with live entertainment, shopping and good times, Regina says. Downtown Little Rock Partnership will host the Food Truck Festival the afternoon of the marathon in cooperation with the event, she notes.
Race participants can also purchase the Outrageous VIP Experience presented by the Hatcher Agency. Amenities include pre-race nutrition, coffee and fluid replacement drinks; post-race food and beverages (adult beverages too); massage therapists for muscle tension; pre-race morning photos; and personal cheerleaders to calm nerves and celebrate achievements.