The Talimena ½ Marathon Run & Relay is set for Saturday, March 11, 2017. This year there will again be an Individual Category, a 4 Person Relay, & a 13 Person Relay.
This race formerly called the Rich Mountain Classic, was first run in 1986 and continued through 1990, using the Janssen Park to the Queen Wilhelmina Lodge race route. In 1991, the “Classic” was renamed the Talimena Drive ½ Marathon and was run from the lodge to near the state line and back. The Talimena Drive is called the “scenic drive” for a reason as the drive from Mena to the State Park and Lodge is beautiful with many breathtaking views and overlooks.
In 2014 this event was re-named the Talimena 13.1 Run & Relay.
It is noted that Governor Bill Clinton and Attorney General Steve Clark were past participants in the race.
The Queen Wilhelmina Lodge has a great history in our area. In the 1890’s, the KCP&G Railroad Company built a north-south railroad from Kansas City to Port Arthur Texas. While building the route through the Ouachita Mountains, a flat area atop of the 2,681-foot Rich Mountain was discovered, and Dutch investors were captivated by the beauty of this windswept mountain. The original lodge was constructed of native stone and timber at a cost of $100,000. The lodge was named for Queen Wilhelmina of the Netherlands, and became known as the “castle in the sky.”
With financial trouble to the KCP&G Railroad, the lodge was abandoned within a few years, and fell upon disrepair. In 1957, a State Park was built at the same location, opening in 1963. In November 1973 the building was destroyed by fire, but the State Parks rebuilt the lodge. The lodge recently underwent a major renovation and reopened the Summer of 2015.