Hot and Sweaty is How They Found Love

Leiper’s Fork, TN – Running friends Kevin Miller and Kathleen Watson found more than they bargained for one hot day in June, 2013.

At the inaugural running of the then-named Franklin Half Marathon, six runners from Murfreesboro carpooled to Leiper’s Fork to participate in the first half marathon in Williamson County. “Kathleen and I had run a few times before in group runs with others, so we ran this race with the rest of our friends from Murfreesboro,” recalls Kevin.  Kathleen  went on to finish the race seven minutes ahead of Kevin that day.

L/R: Mike Gianquitto, Shaphar Kamtrin, Kathleen Watson, Laura Pfiefer, Kevin Miller
L/R: Mike Gianquitto, Shaphar Kamtrin, Kathleen Watson, Laura Pfiefer, Kevin Miller

Out of coincidence the pair found each other among 104 other runners on October 3, 2013 in Winchester, TN at the Southern Plunge Marathon. Kevin finished in 5:22.40 and Kathleen sped away again at the end to finish in 5:16:52.

In the Spring of 2014, Kathleen asked Kevin on an official “date” to run the Franklin Half again, finishing “together.”  By now their running rendezvous had cultivated into a dating relationship.  Remembering the 2013 race, Kevin sped away at the end to finish 28 seconds before her.

“The one event that has always been in common for us is the Franklin Half Marathon.”  -Kevin Miller

2015 the couple had to continue the streak, despite a nagging calf injury holding Kevin back. “I was nursing a calf-injury and so she stayed behind with me to make sure I could make it all the way coming down the final stretch. It was really tough as I was cramping up and struggling through the whole last 1/2 of the race, but she stayed with me the entire time for encouragement.” This year, they crossed the finish line together, as a couple.

The 2016 half marathon has been renamed to Hillbilly Half Marathon and Kevin and Kathleen are going to continue the streak, however, more than the race name will be changed; Kathleen will be running as Kathleen Miller instead of Watson. The couple decided that weathering three Franklin Half Marathons is more than enough to prove they are the perfect match. They were engaged in September and wed at the Belmont Mansion on January 27, 2016. The couple honeymooned in the tropical paradise of Antigua.

“The one event that has always been in common for us is the Franklin Half Marathon,” said Kevin. “We have both looked forward to this race as a challenge and fun event – particularly after last year’s addition of the dueling banjos at mile two.”

“We went from acquaintances to ‘running buddies’ to best friends to ‘soul-mates’ over those many long training miles,” said Kathleen.  “The Franklin Half Marathon (now Hillbilly Half) is something we both look forward to every year, not only for the beautiful course, and wonderful experience, but also because it was the first race we ran together.  We are both looking forward to continuing our ‘streak’ running this race, and hope to see it continue for many years to come. ”

Congratulations, Kevin and Kathleen!  May there be many miles together in your future!

Kathleen and Kevin Watson on Honeymoon.
Kathleen and Kevin Watson on Honeymoon.

2016 Hillbilly Half Marathon

June 4, 2016
Leiper’s Fork, TN

Registration Now Open!

Welcome to the World-Famous 2016 Hillbilly Half Marathon, formerly known as the Franklin Half Marathon. We had a bit of a surprise along the 2015 race course. A rogue group, known as the “Bailey Bottom Boys” heckled runners as they picked the iconic “Deliverance” banjo tune. A passerby, April Cantrell was able to capture the footage, which has seen 2 million views on Facebook and over a million on YouTube. It was shared by Competitor Group, ESPN, CMT, and various other outlets. You can view the video here:

While the Bailey Bottom Boys are not affiliated with the race, they have promised to make their presence known to the “city folk in short shorts.” We do not believe they are a danger to the runners at this time. Only one runner was abducted in 2015 and he managed to get away. We have no reason to believe their bark is as big as their bite. They seem to be mostly talk, but we urge you to use extreme caution if you encounter them. Some good advice would be to stick together and if needed, run faster.

Another surprising turn of events was when the community of Leiper’s Fork embraced the hillbilly hecklers and demanded that the name of the race be changed to reflect the quirky community we know as Leiper’s Fork. This unique community is comprised of musicians, movie stars, artists, millionaires, a new A-list landowner and many other creative individuals. With all their talents, this event will continue to be the highlighted race of the southeast.

We are capping the half marathon at 2000 runners. We expect a sell-out! Please make plans to register on February 6, 2016 at 10:00am to guarantee your spot. Remember, this is a scenic, yet challenging course through the pristine back country of Williamson County, TN. Be sure you are properly hydrated and have plenty of hill training.

Runner Gets Abducted by Hillbillies at Franklin Half Marathon

Hillbillies take over the Franklin Half Marathon

PRESS RELEASE: The Franklin Half Marathon Officially Changes Name to “Hillbilly Half Marathon”

Takes Over Leiper’s Fork for 4th Annual Event,
Saturday, June 4, 2016

Registration Opens Saturday, February 6 at 10am Central

Hillbilly Half MarathonLeiper’s Fork, TN (February 2016) – Organizers are pleased to announce that the fourth running of the Franklin Half Marathon will have a new look this year. Scheduled for Saturday, June 4, 2016, in Leipers Fork, TN, the race has officially changed its name to the “Hillbilly Half Marathon,” due to the popularity of the heckling “hillbilly” pickers that surprised runners in last year’s race.

The humorous viral video, shot by Leiper’s Fork resident April Cantrell, has been viewed over three million times on Facebook and YouTube and was featured in the media in such outlets as The Tennessean, Fox17, Williamson Source and Jack on the Web/CBSlocal. The video shows runners on Bailey Road, just before the turn-around point that sends them back to Leiper’s Creek. The hecklers played the iconic tune from “Deliverance” while shouting suggestive taunts reminiscent of the 1972 thriller.

While the term “hillbilly” generally has a negative connotation, it has also been embraced by self-identified hillbillies and can be a term of endearment or even pride. In fact, the name change was brought forward by the Leiper’s Fork community.

“Leaders and business owners from the community met with me to discuss the future of the race,” said race director and founder of the Franklin Half Marathon, Andy Johnson. “They thought the name should be more indicative of the colorful personalities who call Leiper’s Fork home. We landed on Hill-billy as a double meaning for the hecklers and the hills the runners have to traverse to get back to civilization,” Johnson added.

With a cap of 2,000 runners, organizers are expecting this scenic yet challenging course through the pristine back country of Williamson County, TN to be a complete sell out. “We expect this year’s race to sell out because the viral video has helped to put our race on the map. We have had inquiries from all over the country,” he said.

Interested runners should visit / Registration opens on Saturday, February 6 at 10am at

About the Hillbilly Half Marathon

Founded in 2013, as the Franklin Half Marathon, this race has been touted as one of the most difficult, yet scenic races in the Southeast. Last year it was host to the RRCA Tennessee State Championships. The course record for males was set in 2015 by Scott Wietecha with a time of 1:16:53 and females in 2013 by Ashley Evans with a time of 1:27:39. Renamed to Hillbilly Half Marathon in 2016.