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Bear Chase Marathon to celebrate tenth year in Groveton

By Chris Edwards

For the tenth year now, Groveton will be the site of an event that one of its organizers considers to have a “cult following” in the world of marathon running. 

The Davy Crockett Bear Chase Marathon, which begins bright and early at 6:30 a.m. on Saturday, April 8 is a 26.2-mile total test of fitness that keeps participants coming back year-after-year. From runners who make the sport their life to novices and everyone in between, the event organizers promise that the Bear Chase is a way for participants to “get back to the roots of running.” Houston-based runner Paula Boone, along with her husband Steve, started the event in 2007. Paula Boone said initially the event was launched to help out with the Trinity County Chamber of Commerce, but proved quite popular. “The community has really gotten behind it, and that’s why we keep going back,” she said.

Aside from the outpouring of local support, the Bear Chase is also a great marathon for first-timers to cut their teeth on, Paula Boone said. However, from novices to veterans of hundreds of marathons, the Bear Chase boasts a varied base of runners. Participants come to Groveton from all over the country, and in the past the race has even hosted runners from the United Kingdom. The Boones, who also run the 3,700-member strong Fifty States Marathon Club, credit a great deal of what gives the event its appeal to the idyllic setting. “The small-town America feel is what people really like about it,” Paula Boone said.

A big part of the appeal for Paula Boone, personally, also has to do with the level of involvement that the city of Groveton offers to the event, as well as the camaraderie and opportunity of meeting new people. Prior to the race, on Friday night, a pasta dinner will take place for the runners and their families in the Groveton Elementary School cafeteria, free of charge. 

It lasts from 5 p.m. until 7. The dinner that has become a tradition during the race and something that Paula Boone considers one of the many highlights of the event. “The pasta party is always a lot of fun,” she said.

The marathon itself has different events, with each accommodating runners of varied levels of experience and age. The 26.2-mile main event is a cycle of twice around a 13.1-mile course, which features pavement and forest roads in and around the city. 

It will start at Groveton High School Athletic Field and proceed to the roads and streets, eventually returning to the starting point. 

Runners are also able to compete in a half-marathon, a 5K run or a Possum Walk event, which is one mile (four laps) around the track. All participants in the event will receive a medal and a stuffed bear. In keeping with the race tradition, Paula Boone noted that T-shirts for this year’s event will feature caricatures depicting 10 bears in hot pursuit of Davy Crockett. Boone said the number of bears increases with another year and race on the books. 

Each of the Boones have hundreds of marathon appearances to their credit, yet it’s the thirst for the camaraderie that keeps them participating, Paula said. “It’s also a great way to meet new people, to travel and see the world,” she said.

 The entry fees for participants range from $15 to $90. Registration can be done online (until April 6) by visiting www.50statesmarathonclub.com/bear.html. Participants can also print their application to bring on Friday evening or before 6:30 a.m. on Saturday morning.

You can also call the Trinity County Chamber of Commerce office at 936-642-1715 for information or a registration form.