Atalanta, from Greece to Rogers

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He looked up from his laptop and said “There’s a duathlon at Lake Atalanta the day after the Styx N Stones trail race.” My immediate response was “On or off-road?” “There’s a choice” he said, “you can do either.” This is intriguing.

My first experience with Lake Atalanta was a couple of years ago when I was in search of a morning run route before heading over to the State Championship Cyclocross races for the day. Despite the persistence of a lingering cold front and the ice that still clung to the shadier areas, there were people lining the lake to fish and many out for a walk around the lake.

Sunshine on Lake Atalanta

The WPA built reservoir lake was named for Atalanta Gregory, whose husband donated the land. I wonder if she was named for the mythological Atalanta whose father abandoned her to the forest for being born in the unfortunate state of being female. She was rescued by a bear, became a great huntress and outdoorwoman, and was known for besting men in wrestling matches. She had little use for a man in her life so when her reconciled father tried to marry her off, she devised a plan to challenge suitors to a foot race. If they lost, which they all did, she beheaded them. Eventually a suitor named Melanion was so in love with Atalanta, he decided to trick her with three golden apples he received from the goddess of lovers, Aphrodite, promising in exchange a future sacrifice to her. As Atalanta would start to best Melanion on the run, he would toss an apple to the side. The magic golden apples were irresistible to Atalanta, and the seconds spent retrieving the prizes gave Melanion the victory.

Fleet Feet Little Rock, now hiring.

Joe wondered aloud if he would be able to participate in the duathlon since he doesn’t like running. “If I needed to run god wouldn’t have invented the bike” he says, and he’s still recovering from an achilles injury. I am standing in our living room wondering if I can run fast enough to “Atalanta” him since I’m not as fast on the mountain bike. Not the beheading part, I’d make him buy me a beer at Ozark Beer Company and a Black Forest Crepe at Paulettes instead. Perhaps the universe was sending me a message because the very next morning I opened an email from one of my favorite vendors of running clothes to find an ad for the Atalanta shirt.


The event website advertises this first year event as a Dash, Mash and Dash. Whether you choose the road option or trail option for the bike section, both runs are on a 3 mile trail loop. The road bike is about twice the distance of the trail route, with the advice that the road bike begins with a heart pumping climb. I ran down that incline, there will be some shifting right off the bat and/or you’ll be dancing on the pedals. The run and the mountain bike options are both advertised as easy to moderate. While trail ratings are often subjective and the ease or difficulty depends on the reviewer’s skill, this trail has been compared to Blowing Springs and Progressive Design contributed their handiwork, so I’m going to bet on the side of moderate difficulty and fast flow. Are you ready to Dash, Mash, and Dash? Registration is open.


Searcy County Winter Accommodations.
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