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DANIEL CLIFTON • PICAYUNE EDITOR

MARBLE FALLS — Let the running begin.

Or, at least, let it start Oct. 20 for the first Hill Country Marathon.

The course winds its way from Marble Falls High School’s Mustang Stadium, 2101 Mustang Drive, north through some of the best scenery in the area as well as over a couple of challenging hills.

But that’s what race organizers were looking for when they came up with the Hill Country Marathon. Brad Quinn, one of the minds behind the event, said he and co-conspirator Josue Stephens wanted to create a marathon that not only challenges competitors but gives them great views to enjoy while pounding out 26-plus miles.

“I think we have one of the best marathon venues you can ask for,” Quinn recently said.

If a marathon is just a bit beyond your limits, the Hill Country Marathon offers three other options: a half-marathon, a 10-kilometer run, and, for families or kids, the Phoenix Fun Run that features a one-mile run/walk along a gravel path between the high school and Colt Elementary School.

“We wanted to make something that wasn’t just a marathon but an event everybody, everyone in the family, could come out and enjoy,” Quinn said.

As marathoners and half-marathoners hit the road about 7 a.m. with the 10K runners 15 minutes later, live music will help them find their groove. And, as the competitors head out of sight, the non-runners can continue to enjoy the music as well as numerous vendors and food booths.

Part of the proceeds from the marathon, half-marathon and 10K will go to Serve Who Serve, a local nonprofit that assists military families.

But all the proceeds from the Phoenix Fun Run will go to The Phoenix Center, a Marble Falls organization that provides high-quality mental healthcare for children.

“We’re really excited to be a part of the Hill Country Marathon,” said Sarah Rosen Garrett, The Phoenix Center founder and executive director. “The course (for the one-mile fun run) is great for jogging strollers. And the fun run isn’t just for kids and families, anyone is welcome.”

The entry fee for the Phoenix Fun Run is $15 per person, but Garrett said some scholarships are available for families who might not be able to afford the full cost.

Along with the running events, people can enjoy the Hill Country Marathon Vendor Faire from 7 a.m. to 3 p.m. at the high school stadium. Garrett said there will be several other features, including arts-and-crafts booths for kids at no charge.

“We just want people to come out and have fun,” she said.

As for the marathon, half-marathon and 10K, the entries continue rolling in.

“We expect anywhere between 400 and 500 runners,” Quinn said. He admitted the number was a bit more than expected for a first-year event, though it’s great to see the interest.

The race recently earned a boost when USA Track and Field Association officials certified the course, and it earned the distinction of becoming a Boston Marathon qualifying race.

“Now, not everybody wants to run the Boston Marathon, but pretty much everybody likes to say they qualified for the Boston Marathon,” Quinn said.

Registration for the marathon, the half-marathon and the 10K remains open until Oct. 18. Go to www.runthehillcountry.com to register or for more information.

The event starts at Mustang Stadium. Parking for the race and corresponding activities will be in the visitor’s parking lot off Manzano Mile between the high school and Colt Elementary School.

“Even if you’re not running, come out and have a good time,” Quinn said. “Who knows, next year you might be out there running, too.”

daniel@thepicyaune.com