The Little Rock Marathon was recently given two awards during the Arkansas Recreation & Parks Association (ARPA) annual conference in Eureka Springs, AR.
Hobbit Singleton was selected at the 2008 Individual of the Year for the countless hours spent coaching individuals in the Little Rock Marathon Training Program.
The Little Rock Marathon Training Program was selected as the 2008 Program of the Year for its positive impact health of Arkansans. The program is a free year round running/walking program offered by Little Rock Parks & Recreation and overseen by Hobbit and Tom Singleton.
Each year, the Arkansas Recreation and Parks Association (ARPA) recognizes the state’s outstanding individuals, programs and agencies who seek to improve the quality of life in their communities or for making significant contributions in the field of parks and recreation. ARPA is a non-profit organization for park, recreation and leisure services professionals that strive to broaden recreation, park and leisure opportunities for all Arkansans.
“Our job is done each March as soon as the race is over,” Hobbit said. ”We begin again in April and I am always amazed (and grateful) for the first timers who join our group, as well as the repeat offenders we have. Repeat offenders are those athletes who continue to train with us all year.”
“While we treasure the memories of all the faces that pass through our program,” she said “Tom and I really enjoy getting to know the stories behind those faces then counting them as our friends. Seeing those who didn't believe they could complete 6 miles, much less 13.1 or 26.2, decide to compete in an adventure race, a triathlon or a century (100 mile) bike race, makes it all worth the time and effort.”
“Making friends and helping others conquer their fear is what it's all about and why I'm out there Saturday mornings,” Hobbit said. “It’s also part of why I trained for my first marathon.”
In 2001, Hobbit completed her first marathon in Dublin, Ireland. Having learned first hand how important a support group and coaches can be to the success of a training program, she was eager to help others realize their dream of completing an endurance race. In the seven years since her first marathon, she has completed ? marathons, ? half marathons and various trail races. In 2006, Hobbit completed Walt Disney World’s Goofy Challenge. The Goofy Challenge is a half marathon (13.1 miles) on one day and a full marathon (26.2 miles) the next day. She set a personal best record at the full marathon with a 6:51, which she says “isn’t not bad for someone whose first marathon was a 9:05”.
As one of the coaches, Hobbit spends most every Saturday of the year helping group member meet personal goals as the train for the early March race (March 15, 2009). She is a Road Runners Club of America certified coach. The 2009 training program will be the tenth group she and husband Tom have coached since they began coaching in 2002.
Her coaching goal is “to help people realize they can complete a marathon, no matter what their pace is and to help them continue to keep moving long after the race is a terrific memory”.
The Little Rock Marathon Training Program reaches out to thousands of individuals at every fitness level around the world, many are participating in a marathon for the first time. Since its inception in 2003, the training program has grown from 253 participants to 1,283 participants. Although official training begins in late September, the group trains together every weekend prior to the beginning of official training. Official training programs are offered in Little Rock, Bryant, Fort Smith, Conway and Northwest Arkansas.
"Each year we successfully train hundreds of people who do not consider themselves athletic to finish a marathon," Gina Marchese Pharis, co-executive director of the Little Rock Marathon said. "Our coaches are the reason our training program is considered one of the best in the industry. Tom and Hobbit have tirelessly built the program from just a few participants to one with more than a thousand athletes at its completion. They take a sincere interest in each trainee and have the experience, as well as credentials to back it up."
"The scary part for most of us is taking the first step," Pharis said. "Our coaches are real people, with real jobs and understand what it takes to juggle it all, then train for a marathon on the side."
Interested individuals may register for the 2009 training program online at littlerockmarathon.com. Training schedules, which includes weekly Saturday morning runs, may also be found on the training page of the website.
Events for 2009 include the Little Rock Marathon, presented by the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette, the Little Rock Half Marathon, presented by Baptist Health, the Little Rock Marathon Relay, the Little Rock 5K Fun Run/Walk, the Little Rockers Kids Marathon, presented by Arkansas Children’s Hospital and Today’s THV, the Classic Rockers 55+ Marathon, and the Little Rock Health & Fitness Expo, presented by Arvest Bank.
For more information about deadline, details and the race, visit the website or contact the Little Rock Marathon office at 501-371-4770.
Little Rock Parks and Recreation (LRPR) oversees 53 parks, four community centers, the Adult Leisure Center, War Memorial Fitness Center, four swimming pools, two tennis centers, the River Market, the Riverfest Amphitheatre, three golf courses, and the MacArthur Museum of Arkansas Military History. The LRPR system includes more than 5,000 acres of designated parks and open space. In addition, the organization offers a wide-range of youth and adult recreational and sports leagues, after-school and summer playground programs for children ages 6-15, outdoor recreation, therapeutic recreation and programs for seniors. Funds raised will continue to support parks and recreational programs for all ages. For more information about Little Rock Parks & Recreation please visit www.lrpr.org <http://www.lrpr.org>.