WILLIAMSON, W.Va. – When the shotgun is fired, the fun begins in the Hatfield & McCoy Marathon on Saturday.

Amy For Africa runners Chris and Amy Compston don’t have to take cover but they better be prepared for one of the more grueling marathons in the world.

Gunfire going off was never a cause for celebration when the Hatfields and McCoys, the original feuding families, were battling each other a century ago. A shotgun blast usually meant somebody was going to be buried in a couple of days.

But today that single shotgun blast on the second Saturday in June means the runners are being launched on a demanding journey in the mountainous region.

This is no walk in the park. The Hatfield & McCoy Marathon has been ranked among the world’s top 15 marathons.

It takes runners through and past some of the locations of the Hatfield-McCoy feud. It goes up Hardy Mountain, down Blackberry Creek, into downtown Matewan, W.Va., down Rt. 49 on the West Virginia side of the Tug River, then swings back into Kentucky across the Sprigg Bridge before ending on Second Avenue in downtown Williamson.

This is the 15th year of the marathon and a record number have registered. Nearly 1,000 runners have signed up for the marathon or half marathon. They represent 44 states and Canada.

Runners will receive a T-shirt, a Mason Jar award and a participation medal upon completion of the grueling marathon.

Meanwhile, Team Amy For Africa will be busy handing out gospel tracts to the hundreds who are expected to attend the race during the Hatfield & McCoy festival weekend.

This will be Amy’s third marathon in three months. She ran in Boston and won the Gnaw Bone Trail Marathon in Nashville, Ind., last month. She has five more marathons to run between now and November.

Chris is running his second of six marathons this racing season. He also ran in the Gnaw Bone Trail Marathon and finished in the top five of his age division.

The husband-wife duo is an integral part of the Amy For Africa mission that has raised more than $63,000 for missions in Moyo, Uganda.