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
at https://register.chronotrack.com/r/19275

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 HillbillyHalf.com / Registration opens on Saturday, February 6 at 10am at https://register.chronotrack.com/r/19275

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.

Runner Gets Abducted by Hillbillies at Franklin Half Marathon

A strange turn of events took place on the race route of the 2015 Franklin Half Marathon in Leiper’s Fork, TN on Saturday, June 6.  A band of moon-shining yocals were interrupted by runners after they stayed up all night on a rural stretch of Bailey Road.  This just happened to be near the turnaround for both the half marathon and 5K race courses.

We had all stayed up drinking moonshine all night and next thing you know a bunch of people in tight shorts started running by,” said Red Duck, the leader of the group they call the “Bailey Bottom Boys.”

The first runners that passed by thought this was a planned part of the race.  One runner was quoted as saying, “I thought they were in costume until I got closer and realized that there were no costumes.”

This notorious gang of talented moon-shiners and musicians is well-known by the local residents. “That’s the fellars that run off with my overalls and my pickup shackled up with a load of 100 proof mash ready to make a run to Atlanta. Dagnab ’em,” said a man on Facebook that goes by “Harry.”

April Cantrell, was the passerby who was able to record video and snap photos at a safe distance across the street.  While her photos may look innocent enough, she was able to capture an abduction where runner, “Ollie,” was barely able to escape the clutches of one of the gang members.  The video also captures the Bailey Bottom Boys heckling runners.  They seemed attracted to the runners wearing blue, as they mentioned blue shoes and the attempted abduction, the runner had a blue shirt.

Race Director Andy Johnson expressed his concerns. “Our number one goal is the safety of the runners. We do not intend to cancel or divert this race, however, in 2016 we suggest that you leave bright blue colored clothing at home.  We will have local law enforcement sweep the area to try to keep it clean, but we make no guarantees these folks will be deterred.”

“You’ll see those guys out here doing these silly things all the time,” Cantrell said. “You never know where that batch of boys will show up, dancing and playing music and being themselves” according to the Tennessean article.

Abducted runner, Ollie, has reported that he is doing well, but feels he may benefit from “a little counseling.”

If you have any photos of this incident, please email them to rd@franklinhalfmarathon.com or forward them to the Leiper’s Fork Volunteer Police Department.