You know you’ve had an impact on a race if the event changes its name in your honour. That’s exactly what happened at the newly-named Hillbilly Half-Marathon in Leiper’s Fork, Tenn. after the “Bailey Bottom Boys,” a local group of hecklers, made an appearance at last year’s road race.
Video from the event, previously known as the Franklin Half-Marathon, went viral last year after footage surfaced of the roadside hecklers giving runner’s some added motivation during the race. It now has a tongue-in-cheek name, which was also spurred by the race route’s abundance of hills.
Appropriately, the 5K is now referred to as the “Little Billy.” The local community encouraged the name change, according to The Tennessean, after the roadside celebrities were one of the highlights of last year’s race.
In Ontario, Hamilton’s Around the Bay 30K has a similar roadside celebrity as the Grim Reaper makes an appearance each year near the end of a race. Grim’s job is to motivate runners with rather humorous remarks including “the beard does not make you faster,” and “you look dead.”
With banjos in hand, sporting overalls, and sitting next to an old school pickup truck, the Bailey Bottom Boys managed to attract nearly a million views on YouTube, two million views on Facebook, and made appearances on ESPN and Country Music Television (CMT).
Part of the group heckled runners as they ran by while other members of the Bailey Bottom Boys played music from the popular movie, Deliverance. To them, runners can be described as “city folk in short shorts,” a pretty accurate description for many half-marathoners.
The race website offers some sound advice to get by the stretch of road in question: “Stick together and if needed, run faster.”
The Bailey Bottom Boys even have their own Facebook page after their ascent to popularity following last year’s race.
It’s unclear whether the “rogue group,” as described on the race’s website, will be making an appearance at this year’s fourth annual event, set for June 4.
Note: The article has been updated to exclude the marathon option (we fell for the event’s April Fools’ prank).