November brings a lot of excitement to the Spa City – The holiday season is officially upon us, the leaves have changed colors, turning the Ouachita mountains a riotous mixture of oranges, reds, and yellows, and groups of runners have been spotted training downtown and on West and North mountains in anticipation of the Spa Running Festival. An annual racing and running event, held in downtown Hot Springs, the Spa Running Festival is a favorite for locals and visitors alike.
This year’s festival will be extra exciting because Olympic Medalist and American long-distance running star, Deena Kastor will be a special guest and the official race starter for the half marathon, 10k and 5k events.
The festival’s most notable race, the Spa 10K, will hold it’s 37th meet this year. The competition is part of the Arkansas Grand Prix Series and this year is a State Championship Race.
Starting on Convention Boulevard, the race course winds through Historic Downtown and then over beautiful West Mountain for 2 miles of trails running through mixed hardwoods and the stunning vistas of the Ouachita’s. After trecking the mountain trails, the course returns to the pavement in the Quapaw Historic District and then crosses Central Avenue to end back on Convention Blvd.
Runners looking for a new and exciting challenge can take part in the 4th annual half-marathon, and this year there’s a twist on the classic. Runners of this race will follow a course that takes them to the summits of both North and West mountains for a challenging and thrilling test of athletic limits.
For those looking for an easier but just as exciting race, the 5K Run/Walk is a flat course from Bathhouse Row to Whittington Park and offers a more leisurely look at the historic architecture and scenic views of downtown’s best-known landmarks.
For junior high to high school age runners who wish to compete on a state-wide level, the XC 10K-Cross City Championship offers a chip-timed race on a fast and flat traffic-controlled course.
And for the tiny runner’s in your family, the Spa Squirt Race is a perfect and perfectly adorable event to teach the love of running and racing early in life.
To learn more or to sign up for a race, visit the Spa Running Festival website