The Fort Smith region benefits tremendously from conventions and events that are brought to our area. Attracting and retaining this type of business relies heavily on the efforts of both the community and the growing tourism and hospitality industry. It is for this reason that we, at the Fort Smith Convention & Visitor’s Bureau, are happy to extend our heartfelt gratitude and thanks to 2015’s first-quarter Hometown Hospitality Hero, Patrick Pendleton.
As Director of the Fort Smith Marathon, Pendleton is responsible – along with the support of Jeremy Maxwell and Jay Hanson – for developing and leading the effort to hold the very first Fort Smith Marathon on Sunday, February 8, 2015. The effort and planning that went into executing this inaugural event began nearly a year and a half ago when city officials came together with Pendleton, Maxwell and Hanson to talk about the concept of hosting a Fort Smith Marathon. The representatives from Western Arkansas Runners (WAR), Women Run Arkansas, Mercy and others soon joined the discussion. Talks focused on the dimensional benefits of a marathon that would advocate health, bring the Fort Smith community together and, of course, create excitement for marathon participants and observers.
The Fort Smith Marathon and half-marathon courses encompassed Fort Smith’s most popular historic and scenic sights and challenged runners with unique and unexpected changes in terrain, elevation and the elements. The marathon’s course utilized a portion of Hardscrabble Golf Course and offered 23 aid stations with a unique character and group staffing each of them. There was also an extensive level of involvement from local churches. On the eve of the marathon, runners and their families were able to attend an ecumenical service at Immaculate Conception Church conducted by Father Jon Antony, Pastor, and T. Ray Grandstaff of the Arkansas Fellowship of Christian Athletes.
The Fort Smith Marathon hosted more than 1,000 runners who represented twenty-five U.S. states, Canada and Argentina. This can be accredited to a focused, well-targeted media campaign with three primary elements. First, Facebook was used to target an audience on the local level. Second, a banner ad posted on ArkansasRunner.com was used to attracted runners on a larger scale. Lastly, Marathon Maniacs were contacted, and they got the word out to seriously dedicated runners who would be attracted to challenging themselves with this new course.
This great gathering of runners came together to benefit the expansion of the Fort Smith Multi-purpose trail system; a public check-presentation will occur in the near future. The Fort Smith Marathon Planning Committee has also sent out a data-gathering survey, which will aid in the development of the overall economic impact of the marathon.
Following the event, Pendleton reported that he was, “amazed, shocked, and overwhelmed by the community support!” As the leader of the Fort Smith Marathon Planning Committee, he will hold an event follow-up meeting to determine how to broaden the already incredible levels of collaboration, enthusiasm and service that will serve as hallmark characteristics of the Fort Smith Marathon’s overwhelmingly successful first year.
Would you like to nominate Patrick in this year’s, “4th Annual Giving Recognition in Tourism (GRIT) Awards?” Click on the image below to nominate Patrick and other Hometown Heroes.