Pumpkin Holler Hunnered derives its name not because it is near Halloween but because there is real “Pumpkin Holler” history. There is literally a small community on the course called Pumpkin Holler.
Pumpkin Center? Pumpkin Hollow? Punkin Holler? Cherokee County can't agree.
The most well-known of the Pumpkin Center communities, however, seems to be the Pumpkin Center in Cherokee County, off U.S. 51 about 14 miles east of Tahlequah. It is now mainly represented by a cemetery of the same name. “A number of early Cherokee families, such as Hair, Kirk, Pritchett and Pumpkin lived near here and are buried in the cemetery,” said historian Gary D. Courtney.
Tahlequah area resident and tribal citizen Ernestine Pumpkin said the Pumpkin Center area is indeed her family’s land allotment. Other locals affectionately call the area “Pumpkin Hollow,” or alternatively “Punkin Holler.”
Genealogist David Cornsilk, of the Cherokee Nation, grew up southeast of the area and remembers attending funerals at the Pumpkin Center Cemetery in “Pumpkin Holler.” Archival maps from the Bureau of Land Management in the 1890s show that the area also was once called Baumgartner Hollow, but it’s the Pumpkin Hollow vs. Center debate that still captures the imagination of locals.
“My entire life the question of Pumpkin Center (versus) Pumpkin Hollow has raged among old-timers much like the chicken or the egg,” Cornsilk said. “You want to start an argument? Raise the question of Center vs. Hollow. I don’t argue about it, I just let folks believe what they want to believe.”
Did you see the part about the cemetery up above? For those doing anything longer than the 25K, you run right past it. It is located off a small driveway where the gravel ends and the pavement begins. If you are feeling brave, we dare you to go in. If you are feeling really brave, go in on a lap when it’s dark. And if you are feeling the bravest of all…go in when it is dark and look for the headstone with the picture of satan with the glowing red eyes. Come on, we dare ya.
Every day we each run into heroes, yet we may never know they are heroes or how they impacted you. From our volunteers, to our finishers and everyone who toed the start line but did not meet their goal – you inspire us. You inspire the people around you in everything you do. The ‘greatness’ of Pumpkin Holler Hunnerd is not just the volunteers, not just the food, not just the ultra-runners, not just the course. It’s a combination of all of these things that make the experience better than ever expected.
Below are just a few stories about the heroes. Let us know if you have story to tell about yourself, a runner, a volunteer or mentor in your life that helped you along the PHH journey.
Thanks to our good friend and long-time hero, Brian Hoover, we have an overall mileage chart showing the total distance at each aid station.
Click the link below for high-resolution PDF version.
Updated version - 10/20/2017
Check out this 50K race report from Brian Desmarais, a blogger friend who ran the 50K at Pumpkin Holler.
Brian ran a 5:38, a very respectable time.
Brian has a great blog called BikeRunBeer and upon reading just a page or two, you'll agree that he is a great writer and photographer.
In his report, I am certain I sensed thoughts of a 100K attempt woven in the last lines of his telling. :-)
Each year, there has been a dog story. This year, this little dog followed runners all around the course once twice, three times. I saw it all over the course in my drives around the loop. Some people think it may have ran over 3 loops which is close to 100 miles. When I saw it at the start/finish, it was so friendly, greeting everyone like we were long lost friends. The next morning, it was tired and climbed up into peoples laps. Several people took this picture of her curled up in this chair. No, she did not drink the beer.
Kevin Lemaster and family agreed to take her in. Kevin made a few calls to area vets, but found no one who had reported her missing. Two days after the race, I received a call from a lady who said they'd lost a blue healer with red/white markings. that did not sound like this dog. I mentioned to her that THIS dog had been all around the loop. I don't really know why I texted her this picture--but when I did, she said THAT was her Missy!! Then, I had the task of calling Kevin to tell them that the dog he and his family had fallen in love with was gonna have to go back to it's home. :-( I put Kevin in touch with the owner so they could make the exchange.
But in their conversations, it came out that the dog belonged to this lady's mother-in-law, and she was wanting to give it away a couple of months ago. Kevin then offered to buy it. After a day of waiting for an answer, Kevin received a call from them and they told him they had decided to let them keep her. Kevin and the Lemasters named this sweet girl Pumpkin.
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Kathy came in 57 seconds under 27 hours, good enough for 4th place female. But this was also her 3rd 100 mile finish in the past 3 weeks. Since October 5 through October 20--a mere 16 days--she has raced over 300 miles.
Wes Rupell, a first time 100 miler, ran the entire race with Christy. It was like they had a pacer for the whole race. They really never looked like they were struggling. I guess no one told them running 100 miles was hard.
Mr. Arnold Begay--100-mile finisher. Arnold finished Pumpkin Holler--but only after finishing Urban Adventure 100, Arkansas Traveller 100, and Heartland 100 in the three preceding weeks. Four 100-milers in four weeks.