The Arkansas Grand Prix started in 1982 under the administration of the Arkansas chapter of The Athletic Congress (TAC). For the first 8 years of the Grand Prix, the top ten overall and masters runners in male and female divisions were scored on a descending 25-15-10-7-6-5-4-3-2-1 point scale. Mike Clark and Beth Walker won the inaugural titles. Clark would subsequently go on to win the overall championship in the 1984 series.
Grand Prix I consisted of
5 total races:
The Riverfest 10K - The Riverfest 10K was named the 1982 Arkansas State TAC 10,000 Meter Championship and was sponsored by First National Bank (now Regions Bank) during Riverfest weekend. Randy Taylor served as the race director. First National Bank gave running shorts to all 10K entries but due to the large amount of expenses incurred, the bank got out of the racing business after one year and Union Life agreed to step in as the corporate sponsor in 1983. In 1983, there was interest by the Spa Pacers to get their Spa 10K (then in its 2nd year) into the Grand Prix Series and the Arkansas TAC was interested in expanding into Hot Springs. Since there were only championship races in the Grand Prix at that point, the Series was limited to one race per distance. It was agreed to switch the Riverfest 10K race to the 8K distance. The race became known as the River Run 8K and later the Rock Run 8K. It remained in the Grand Prix Series for 21 straight years until ceasing to run in 2002. In 2010, the Arkansas RRCA revived the Rock Run 8K for Grand Prix XXIX.
Big Apple Classic 5K - The Big Apple Classic 5K was held in the Riverdale area of Little Rock in 1981 and 1982 on Labor Day. In 1982, the race was named as the Arkansas TAC Championship 5K and part of the inaugural Grand Prix Series. The BAC 5K was sponsored by the Travel Center with their President, Todd Jurgens, serving as race director. The Big Apple name was given because the Travel Center donated two airline tickets and entries into the 1982 New York Marathon from a random drawing with the top ten finishers elgible. After the 1982 running, the Travel Center was sold the race ceased to exist causing the Arkansas TAC searching for a 5K to serve in the 1983 GP Series. Coincidently, the Arkansas Running Klub had started their own race, the Twin Cities Bank 5K, on Labor Day weekend that same year. Held across the river in North Little Rock's Burn Park, the TCB 5K was named as the replacement for the Big Apple Classic in 1983 as the State Championship 5K.
The Razorback Run 15K - The Razorback Run 15K was held in Fayetteville and was run for a number of year. Dr Barry Brown, a professor at the University of Arkansas, served as race director for the 1982 running, in which the Razorback Run was part of Grand Prix I. The RR 15K preceeded the Grand Prix and was one of the first races in the state during the running boom of the 1970s. Orginally organized by the University of Arkansas Air Force ROTC, the Razorback Run attracted elite runners throughout its history, with Sydney Maree as the biggest name to run the race. After 1982, there would not be a 15K State Championship until the Glenwood Caddo River 15K in 1988. Fayetteville would not have another GP race until the Gulley Park Cow Paddy 4K in 1992.
The First Arkie Ultra 50 Miler - The Arkie Ultra 50K Miler is the only ultra distance race to ever be included in the Grand Prix Series. The race was held in Russellville on the Bona Dea trail system. As the Bona Dea loop is just over 3 miles, runners had complete almost 15 laps to reach the 50 mile distance. Runners were asked to bring their own lap counters and handlers. Henry Hawk, of race sponsor Hawks Athletics in Conway, served as the race director. Separate prizes were given out to everyone who finished under 7, 9 and 11 hours. A total of 22 runner finished the race with David Horton and Kenny Plummer tied for first place at 5 hours and 59 minutes. Lou Peyton was the lone female finisher.
The TAC 20K - The TAC 20K Championship was held in Russellville on the Bona Dea trail system with Tom Aspel serving as race director. Beth Walker and Mike Clark were the female and male winners to wrap up their overall Grand Prix titles. The following year the Arkansas 20K hosted by the Saline County Striders in Benton was named the TAC Championship Race as part of Grand Prix II. Tom Aspel added another 6.2 miles onto the TAC 20K course on the Bona Dea trails to create the TAC 30K for 1983.
|Riverfest 10K||Little Rock||May 29th|
|Big Apple Classic 5K||Little Rock||September 6th|
|Razorback Run 15K||Fayetteville||October 16th|
|Arkie Ultra 50 Miler||Russellville||October 23rd|
|TAC 20K||Russellville||November 14th|