My Profile

@kmerskine

Chattanooga, TN Raving since 2021 50 States hopeful/finisher, Half Fanatics From Fourth Island Active 3 days, 7 hours ago

About Me

  • Running club(s):
  • Rave race:

    Greenville Half and the Chattanooga Half

  • Race that's calling my name:

    Polar Circle Half Marathon & Key West Half Marathon

  • I run because:

    Running races helps keep me healthy and is an excuse to take the wife away for a weekend.

My Races

Organize, track & review your races and personal bests here.

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Half Marathon

Marathon

Ultramarathon

(Marathon or Ultra) + Half

Marathon + Ultra

Other

Future Races

Personal Bests (18)

Race Distance Location Date Result
Beast Chandlersville, OH May 7, 2016 4:38:20
Sprint Canandaigua, NY Sep 18, 2005 1:29:11
60 Miler Chattanooga, TN Oct 20, 2023 10:48:00
50K Bryceville, FL Feb 24, 2024 6:56:28
Marathon Franklin, TN Nov 4, 2023 3:15:30
30K Mullan, MT Jun 17, 2023 3:18:03
18 Miler Pelham, AL Jul 22, 2023 4:32:37
25K San Angelo, TX Mar 4, 2023 2:52:42
Half Marathon Greenville, SC Feb 26, 2022 1:50:57
10.2 Miler Chattanooga, TN Mar 26, 2016 2:23:06
10 Miler Trabuco Canyon, CA Mar 19, 2016 1:53:37
15K Fort Oglethorpe, GA 2015 1:22:28
8 Miler Fort Oglethorpe, GA Apr 16, 2016 1:19:37
12K Mount Berry, GA Feb 27, 2016 1:15:22
6.5 Miler McDonald, TN Feb 10, 2018 1:13:09
10K Chattanooga, TN Dec 5, 2015 55:10
8K Chattanooga, TN Nov 26, 2020 46:06
5K Chattanooga, TN Oct 30, 2016 37:20

Future Races (2)

Race Distance Location Date Paid
Half Marathon Paro, Bhutan May 26, 2024
Half Marathon Fort Payne, AL Oct 12, 2024

Past Races (141)

Race Distance Location Date Result My Raves My Performance
Half Marathon Huntsville, AL Apr 7, 2024 1:55:19
30K Chickamauga, GA Mar 23, 2024 4:20:09
Half Marathon Chattanooga, TN Mar 3, 2024 2:02:49
50K Bryceville, FL Feb 24, 2024 6:56:28
Half Marathon Townsend, TN Dec 10, 2023 2:08:27
Half Marathon Helen, GA Dec 9, 2023 2:50:52
Half Marathon Knoxville, TN Dec 3, 2023 3:04:38
Half Marathon Rising Fawn, GA Dec 2, 2023 2:50:58
Half Marathon Chattanooga, TN Nov 25, 2023 2:03:20
Half Marathon Atlanta, GA Nov 23, 2023 2:09:31
Half Marathon Gadsden, AL Nov 18, 2023 2:03:26
Half Marathon Fort Oglethorpe, GA Nov 11, 2023 1:58:53
Marathon Franklin, TN Nov 4, 2023 3:15:30
Half Marathon Chattanooga, TN Oct 28, 2023 2:18:18
60 Miler Chattanooga, TN Oct 20, 2023 10:48:00
Half Marathon Travelers Rest, SC Oct 15, 2023
Half Marathon Greenville, SC Oct 14, 2023
30K Blue Ridge, GA Oct 7, 2023 4:41:07
Half Marathon Asheville, NC Sep 30, 2023 2:04:04
Half Marathon Johnson City, TN Sep 24, 2023 2:07:48
30K Morgantown, NC Sep 23, 2023 4:43:42
Half Marathon Huntsville, AL Sep 10, 2023
Half Marathon Asheville, NC Aug 26, 2023 2:14:10
Half Marathon Spencer, TN Aug 20, 2023 2:05:01
Half Marathon Chattanooga, TN Aug 5, 2023 2:59:32
Half Marathon Morristown, TN Jul 29, 2023 3:26:46
18 Miler Pelham, AL Jul 22, 2023 4:32:37
30K Sturgis, SD Jun 24, 2023 4:23:37
30K St. Regis, MT Jun 17, 2023 3:18:03
Half Marathon Laketown, UT Jun 10, 2023
Half Marathon Cokeville, WY Jun 9, 2023
Half Marathon St Charles, ID Jun 8, 2023
Half Marathon Newport, OR Jun 3, 2023 2:07:56
Half Marathon Nantou, Taiwan May 28, 2023 2:21:45
Half Marathon Taoyuan City, Taiwan May 7, 2023 2:34:03
Half Marathon Chatsworth, GA Apr 23, 2023
Half Marathon Pikeville, TN Apr 22, 2023
Half Marathon Hollandale, MS Apr 19, 2023 2:27:05
Half Marathon Lake Village, AR Apr 18, 2023 2:58:57
Half Marathon Winnsboro, LA Apr 17, 2023 2:32:01
Half Marathon Madison, AL Apr 16, 2023 2:04:55
Half Marathon Atlantic City, NJ Apr 2, 2023 3:34:46
Half Marathon Rainsville, AL Mar 10, 2023 2:27:53
Half Marathon Rainsville, AL Mar 10, 2023 2:27:53
Half Marathon Rainsville, AL Mar 10, 2023 2:06:31
Half Marathon San Antonio, TX Mar 5, 2023 2:03:49
25K San Angelo, TX Mar 4, 2023 2:52:42
Half Marathon Greenville, SC Feb 25, 2023 1:55:36
Half Marathon Chattanooga, TN Feb 12, 2023 1:56:56
Half Marathon Guntersville, AL Feb 11, 2023 2:42:30
Half Marathon Spencer, TN Feb 4, 2023 2:43:05
Half Marathon Asheville, NC Jan 21, 2023 2:02:22
Half Marathon Daufuskie Island, SC Jan 14, 2023 2:00:02
Half Marathon Mobile, AL Jan 8, 2023 1:59:27
Half Marathon Chattanooga, TN Jan 1, 2023 2:04:32
Half Marathon Huntsville, AL Dec 11, 2022 1:59:09
Half Marathon Helen, GA Dec 10, 2022 2:36:57
Half Marathon Nashville, TN Dec 4, 2022 2:09:41
Half Marathon Chattanooga, TN Nov 26, 2022 1:57:44
Half Marathon Oak Ridge, TN Nov 19, 2022 2:09:07
Half Marathon Fort Oglethorpe, GA Nov 12, 2022 1:58:40
Half Marathon Harrison, TN Nov 6, 2022 2:43:41
Half Marathon Chattanooga, TN Oct 29, 2022 1:59:41
Half Marathon Chattanooga, TN Oct 16, 2022 1:59:43
Half Marathon Taoyuan, Taiwan Oct 2, 2022 2:17:56
Half Marathon Tainan, Taiwan Sep 25, 2022 2:40:26
Half Marathon Taipei, Taiwan Sep 24, 2022 2:14:21
Half Marathon Taiwan Sep 17, 2022 2:27:43
Half Marathon Dundee, United Kingdom Jul 17, 2022 2:06:28
Half Marathon Newburyport, MA Jun 12, 2022 2:03:42
Half Marathon Portland, ME Jun 11, 2022 2:02:36
Half Marathon Claremont, NH Jun 10, 2022 2:13:59
Half Marathon Lincoln, RI Jun 7, 2022 2:24:33
Half Marathon Simsbury, CT Jun 6, 2022 1:56:30
Half Marathon South Pomfret, VT Jun 5, 2022 1:54:14
Half Marathon Laurel Park, NC May 14, 2022 2:00:40
Half Marathon White Sulphur Springs, WV May 7, 2022 2:05:12
Half Marathon Rehoboth Beach, DE Apr 24, 2022 1:55:50
Half Marathon Huntsville, AL Apr 10, 2022 1:57:34
Half Marathon Woodville, AL Mar 20, 2022 2:02:17
Half Marathon Chattanooga, TN Mar 6, 2022 2:11:00
Half Marathon Greenville, SC Feb 26, 2022 1:50:57
Half Marathon Milwaukee, WI Feb 12, 2022 1:57:38
Half Marathon Chattanooga, TN Jan 8, 2022 2:00:14
Half Marathon Chattanooga, TN Jan 1, 2022 2:06:56
Half Marathon Rogersville, AL Dec 4, 2021 2:30:58
Half Marathon Chattanooga, TN Nov 27, 2021 2:07:32
Half Marathon Cleveland, TN Oct 23, 2021 2:09:07
Half Marathon Chicago, IL Sep 26, 2021 1:58:34
Half Marathon Spencer, TN Aug 22, 2021 2:22:53
Half Marathon Potomac, MD Jun 6, 2021 2:28:15
Half Marathon Covington, VA Jun 5, 2021 2:16:58
Half Marathon Indianapolis, IN May 8, 2021 2:03:32
Half Marathon Gettysburg, PA Apr 25, 2021 2:15:58
Half Marathon Greenville, SC Feb 27, 2021 1:56:26
10K Dawsonville, GA Jan 23, 2021 56:23
10K Helen, GA Dec 12, 2020 1:01:44
8K East Ridge, TN Nov 26, 2020 46:06
Half Marathon Chatsworth, GA Sep 13, 2020 2:07:46
Half Marathon Mount Berry, GA Mar 7, 2020 2:17:51
Half Marathon Chattanooga, TN Mar 7, 2020 2:16:20
Half Marathon Helen, GA Dec 14, 2019 2:23:50
Half Marathon Huntsville, AL Apr 7, 2019 2:26:57
Half Marathon Lexington, KY Mar 30, 2019 2:24:27
Half Marathon Helen, GA Dec 15, 2018 2:32:09
Half Marathon Thompson\'s Station, TN Nov 10, 2018 2:13:28
Half Marathon Townsend, TN Sep 7, 2018 2:12:25
Half Marathon Calhoun, GA May 26, 2018 2:11:08
Half Marathon Huntsville, AL Apr 8, 2018 2:07:29
Half Marathon Pikeville, TN Mar 11, 2018 2:32:43
6.5 Miler McDonald, TN Feb 10, 2018 1:13:09
Half Marathon Helen, GA Dec 16, 2017 2:30:46
Half Marathon Chattanooga, TN Oct 15, 2017 2:24:23
Other triathlon distance Lewisburg, TN Oct 14, 2017
10K Black Mountain, NC Aug 29, 2017 2:34:32
Half Marathon Huntsville, AL Apr 9, 2017 2:09:17
Half Marathon Elkmont, AL Jan 21, 2017 2:20:48
5K Chattanooga, TN Oct 30, 2016 37:20
Sprint Crandall, GA Oct 2, 2016 2:03:12
Beast Chandlersville, OH May 7, 2016 4:38:20
Sprint Woodlawn, TN Apr 20, 2016 2:10:36
8 Miler Fort Oglethorpe, GA Apr 16, 2016 1:19:37
10.2 Miler Chattanooga, TN Mar 26, 2016 2:23:06
10 Miler Trabuco Canyon, CA Mar 19, 2016 1:53:37
12K Mount Berry, GA Feb 27, 2016 1:15:22
10K Chattanooga, TN Dec 19, 2015 1:09:34
10K Chattanooga, TN Dec 5, 2015 55:10
Half Marathon Chattanooga, TN Aug 1, 2015 2:32:30
Half Marathon Muskegon, MI Jul 6, 2015 2:15:00
6K Collegedale, TN Feb 22, 2015
15K Fort Oglethorpe, GA 2015 1:22:28
10K Chattanooga, TN 2014
Sprint Canandaigua, NY Sep 18, 2005 1:29:11
Sprint Trumansburg, NY Aug 7, 2005 2:00:48
Sprint Kueka Lake, NY Jun 12, 2005 1:43:00
Sprint Cazenovia, NY Aug 15, 2004 1:39:21
Sprint Trumansburg, NY Aug 1, 2004 1:38:28
Sprint Canandaigua, NY 2004 1:32:22
Sprint Geneva, NY 2004 1:30:32
Sprint Crandall, GA 1990
Sprint Crandall, GA 1989

My Raves

This race is really well done. Parking is easy, the start / finish is a nice area, plenty of toilets along the route, although they need to bring in more … MORE

This race is really well done. Parking is easy, the start / finish is a nice area, plenty of toilets along the route, although they need to bring in more to the start line as there is always a long line and this year it delayed the start of the race. The post-race food used to be better, or more varied. I’m not sure why but they have less tents with food than they had a few years ago. It’s slowly getting less… but it’s still decent post-race food. Pizza, cookies, oranges, apples, bananas, soda, water, gatorade, and more. I think I’ve run this race maybe six times now and I’ll be back.

It’s worth driving an hour or two to get here for this run, but probably not more than that. It’s a nice local race, but not a bucket list race unless your bucket list focuses only on Huntsville.

DIFFICULTY
2
PRODUCTION
5
SCENERY
2
SWAG
3

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This was the first year of this race and it was relatively small. I think about 50 did the 30k and maybe not quite that many did the 50k. It … MORE

This was the first year of this race and it was relatively small. I think about 50 did the 30k and maybe not quite that many did the 50k. It is in a beautiful setting! Parking is easy (on an old paved airstrip), check-in was fast, and everything about the start of the race was great. The little old country store where you check in was about as charming as they come.

The aid stations were placed perfectly, there were enough of them, the volunteers were super helpful, and the menu of food was great. I don’t know if there were toilets on the course; I didn’t look for them and didn’t notice them. I might have seen one, but there could have been more.

The course itself was harder than it appeared. The first mile was flat and along an old dirt road through a field. After that you had like 2 miles of steep uphill. Then down, and some up and down, and then maybe three or so miles along an old dirt road that was mostly up. But there were flat’ish sections that I ended up walking. Not sure why? Maybe because the hills I’d already run had beat me down. I was walking some of these and felt like I really should be running. The 30k is really a runnable race, with a few exceptions. But the fastest time was just over half of my time, so that gives you an idea how quickly the elite runners will tackle this.

The post-race food was good, and they had veggie burgers. Yay! They didn’t have any buns or tomato or lettuce, onions, or the things that make a burger, so I just squirted a bunch of mustard on my plate and dipped the burger in mustard. Not great, but at least it was some protein. They had a huge apple pie, chips, beer, soda, water, and Powerade, all for the post-race meal.

Nicely done! I’d recommend this one. I drove an hour to get there. It might be worth a two hour drive, but not much more than that. Great regional race, but not a bucket list race. Yet. But this was it’s first year, it will grow and get better, I think. Clearly the RD for this race has run these races and knows what it takes to run a good race.

DIFFICULTY
4
PRODUCTION
4
SCENERY
4
SWAG
3

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This is my town, so this is an easy race for me to get to. I know the route, and it's a beautiful course. I wish they would run us … MORE

This is my town, so this is an easy race for me to get to. I know the route, and it’s a beautiful course. I wish they would run us through the UTC campus, instead of along the backside of it. It would be a minor rerouting and wouldn’t change the distance considerably. And it would add to the charm of the course.

Packet pickup is easy, there are toilets on site and plenty of them, and parking is plentiful and easy, and very close to the start / finish line.

Great race. I’ll be back again next year. This is one that is worth a weekend in Chattanooga. Stay at a nice hotel downtown, eat out, walk across the Walnut St. Bridge, see the Medal of Honor Museum and maybe the aquarium.

DIFFICULTY
3
PRODUCTION
5
SCENERY
3
SWAG
3

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So I hand-picked this race specifically because it was flat, not paved, and not technical. I am not sure if you could pick a better race for your first 50k … MORE

So I hand-picked this race specifically because it was flat, not paved, and not technical. I am not sure if you could pick a better race for your first 50k race. There is a lot to like about this race and not much to dislike. I would absolutely recommend this for first-timers or veterans.

There was free camping. I drove from Chattanooga and I got up at 2am to drive down there so I could secure a parking spot. Well, I needn’t have bothered. It rained much of that day, I think, and much of the evening. The camp ground was a big puddle, but there were enough spots to pull in and camp. I have converted a Honda Element into a camper so I was able to stay dry, but the poor bloke next to me must have gotten soaked, and, he forgot his tent poles, to boot. He strung something up though, in the dark, and was gone when I got back to my Element after the race. He and I were the only people in the entire group camping area (where racers were camping).

The camp area was only about a two minute walk from the start/finish line, and from the bathrooms / showers. There were probably… 50 or 60 runners? Maybe half of them doing the 25k and the rest doing the 50k.

I fell in with a few veterans in the first 10 miles or so and those miles flew by pretty quickly. By the time I got to mile 15 my time was still great but my legs were getting tight. I’d stop at the aid station, stretch a bit, refuel, and be on my way. There were two aid stations. One was at the start / finish line, and then another at the intersection of the Y shaped course. The tops of each side of the Y were lollipop shaped, and it was really quite a pretty course. Flat as you’d expect in FL. I think there was a single hill, actually, and that was where an 18-inch drainage pipe had been laid under the road, so the hill was about 26 or 30 inches. In 32 miles I had only about 374 ft of elevation change.

The first half of the race I completed in about 2:30. 15.5 miles. The second half took me almost 4:30. MUCH slower. Guess I’ve got some training to do!

The aid station in the Y intersection, you passed it six times. They had a lot of yummy snacks, plus bacon and maybe a bacon burrito? I am vegetarian… please, for goodness sakes, this is 2023, there are enough vegetarians around that you’d think RDs would at least have something on hand. I’m not that bothered by not having fake bacon, it is more irritating though that RDs don’t care to provide a yummy, hot, alternative. Otherwise, the aid station was really well stocked and the volunteers were awesome, as they usually are. I’m always so grateful for these folks, and the vols at this race were so helpful.

At the finish they had pulled pork sandwiches. Although if you are a veg like me, you can eat potato salad. And if you are totally plant-based, you can eat a granola bar. 🙂

I loved this race. If I didn’t live nearly 7 hours away I’d do it again. Highly recommend! I also highly recommend the RD to offer some vegetarian alternative for the post-race meal. 🙂

DIFFICULTY
1
PRODUCTION
5
SCENERY
3
SWAG
3

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First, I won entry to this race in a contest here on Race Raves, so thanks to the entire RR team for that! I've been underwhelmed by the Santa Hustle … MORE

First, I won entry to this race in a contest here on Race Raves, so thanks to the entire RR team for that!

I’ve been underwhelmed by the Santa Hustle races I’ve done. I’ve done two, both in TN, and both have had a lot of hype, and a lot less of a great course. This race was almost completely along a divided four-lane highway. I think it was divided anyway… maybe it wasn’t. In any case, the course took runners a few miles down one side of the highway, you turn around, and then cross under the highway to the other side, and then run back up the other side of the highway, turn around and come back. It is as if someone there wanted to have a race, course quality be damned. If I was local I *may* do this one again if I wanted to run that weekend and couldn’t find another run, but it wouldn’t be my first choice, and I’ll not drive two hours to that race again.

The organization was good, the volunteers were great, as is usual with volunteers, and the Christmas spirit was also nice. Parking was easy’ish, and there are hotels within about a 5 or 10 minute walk if you don’t want to park or drive.

Without a doubt, the best thing about doing this race is arriving the day before and driving out to Cades Cove, and having a drive through the park.

This was a benchmark race for me though. It was my 52nd half marathon in 52 weeks, in my 52nd year. So I was happy to have completed it.

DIFFICULTY
3
PRODUCTION
3
SCENERY
2
SWAG
3

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I've done this race maybe six times. It's a great race, a beautiful course, and in a nice park. Parking is easy, and this running community is pretty friendly. It's … MORE

I’ve done this race maybe six times. It’s a great race, a beautiful course, and in a nice park. Parking is easy, and this running community is pretty friendly. It’s always short of an actual 13.1 miles so if you are a purist, this ain’t your race. If you are looking to come out, run some hills, see a pretty place, and enjoy yourself, this is a good race to do that.

Helen, GA can be a little obnoxious this time of year. If you don’t like lots of tourists then stay at the lodge. If you like tourists and Christmas lights, then stay in downtown Helen. It’s about a 10’ish minute drive to the start/finish.

Worth a few hours drive for this race, and stay for the weekend.

DIFFICULTY
4
PRODUCTION
4
SCENERY
5
SWAG
4

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The start/finish area is nice here. Indoor bathrooms, although not enough of them, and the trail was promising at the start. This wasn't a particularly easy course though. If I … MORE

The start/finish area is nice here. Indoor bathrooms, although not enough of them, and the trail was promising at the start. This wasn’t a particularly easy course though. If I was local, I would do this one again, but I drove 90 and probably won’t go back to repeat this one.

The post-race snacks were nice, parking was easy, and it was well-organized. But the directions to the race were not good. I ended up at a nature center. The nature center people gave me directions back to where the race was and it was clear that I wasn’t the first person they’d had to re-direct.

DIFFICULTY
3
PRODUCTION
4
SCENERY
3
SWAG
3

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The scenery was nice in the few moments the clouds cleared. But it mostly rained during this run. I'd do it again, I think, but I'd probably want to do … MORE

The scenery was nice in the few moments the clouds cleared. But it mostly rained during this run. I’d do it again, I think, but I’d probably want to do some stair climbing. I think I counted the stairs and there were over 500 actual stair steps, in one go. And that’s not counting other small stairs or hills. Not an easy course. But it is a pretty course and I did enjoy this run.

I drove in for this race so I don’t know how accommodations were locally. I think they had bunks for runners for the weekend, but no idea how that went. They did have bathrooms near the start line, and the post-race food was great. Lots to drink, lots to eat.

I would do this race again. It’s worth a few hours drive to get to it, but maybe not more than that unless you must have a race that weekend.

DIFFICULTY
4
PRODUCTION
4
SCENERY
4
SWAG
3

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This race is in my town. If it wasn't, I'd probably drive an hour or so to get to it, but not further. But it is indeed a great local … MORE

This race is in my town. If it wasn’t, I’d probably drive an hour or so to get to it, but not further. But it is indeed a great local race. Several hundred runners, a pretty course, through a pretty town. Some of it is downtown, some is along the river. And at the end you get donuts, all you can eat.

Hotels near the start/finish line are not within a five minute walking distance, and most are across a bridge, so you’d need to get an Uber, or drive. But the organization of this race is always great, and it’s a fun local run.

Absolutely recommend if you are local’ish.

DIFFICULTY
2
PRODUCTION
5
SCENERY
3
SWAG
3

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I think maybe 12,000 to 15,000 people ran this race. Heck, maybe more. It was hard to tell, there were just so many. By far the biggest race I've run. … MORE

I think maybe 12,000 to 15,000 people ran this race. Heck, maybe more. It was hard to tell, there were just so many. By far the biggest race I’ve run. I arrived pretty early so I didn’t have to fight for a parking spot and ended up getting a spot in a huge nearby lot, and walked only about 2 minutes to the start line. But packet pickup was about a ten minute walk. No complaints though, it was a lively morning, which was nice.

Plenty of bathrooms, plenty of aid stations, and everything was really well organized. I may not run this one again, but only because I don’t like Atlanta traffic and it was about a 90 minute drive from home for me. But I’m glad I ran it once. It was a fun experience.

DIFFICULTY
2
PRODUCTION
5
SCENERY
3
SWAG
3

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I didn't know what to expect with this race but Gadsden is a cute little town and the race is small enough that you don't need to worry about parking, … MORE

I didn’t know what to expect with this race but Gadsden is a cute little town and the race is small enough that you don’t need to worry about parking, which is plentiful anyway, just across the street from the brewery, where you start, and the brewery is two blocks from the downtown center. The course is nice, featuring some of Gadsden’s highlights. I enjoyed this course and will probably do it again next year.

There are port-a-johns at the start and at most aid stations, and there were probably five (?) aid stations. These stations had sports drink and water. The course is described as “moderately challenging” on the website but I would probably describe it as pleasant and rolling. This race has the potential to get significantly larger if word spreads regionally how nice this race is. But I think there were maybe only 150’ish runners for the 10k and HM, which started together.

There was a nice lunch at the end but as is typical, nothing substantial for vegetarians. I made do with the protein bars and potato chips.

Overall, nicely done, Gadsden! Great event.

DIFFICULTY
2
PRODUCTION
4
SCENERY
3
SWAG
3

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This isn't a bucket list race to travel across the country for, but it's easily a tier 2 bucket list race to travel across the region for. It's a great … MORE

This isn’t a bucket list race to travel across the country for, but it’s easily a tier 2 bucket list race to travel across the region for. It’s a great course, it’s gentle rolling hills and quiet national park roads are a nice change from the higher traffic roads of most road race. This is not the Grand Canyon or Zion, but it’s a super pleasant run through the battlefield of the second largest battle in the Civil War.

The aid stations are about every 2 to 3 miles. They have snacks, water, Powerade, and Port-a-Johns. The food after is good. Parking is easy and close to the start line. This is a super nice race and I’ll be doing it again next year.

And while you are in the area you should visit Chattanooga, only about 30 minutes away. And, the race is on Veterans Day weekend, and what better way to spend a few hours thinking about American veterans than to run through this sacred ground?

DIFFICULTY
2
PRODUCTION
5
SCENERY
3
SWAG
3

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This race should have been faster for me. It is very technical in places though and I tend to run a lot slower than the average person on more technical … MORE

This race should have been faster for me. It is very technical in places though and I tend to run a lot slower than the average person on more technical stuff. I’m not turtle slow, but I’m more turtle than hare. This is a small race in a really pretty area along the Trace, with small towns nearby. There are none of the really tourist-worthy tunnel-like parts of the Old Trace along the course. I was disappointed to not have seen that.

I believe there were indoor toilets at the start line. Parking was easy. Packet pick up was easy.

The one thing they do need to improve on is the website instructions. It was hard to figure out if they had a half marathon or just a 13.1 ruck. So I thought I had registered for the HM but as the race neared and I started to work out the race day details, it seemed that there was no HM, that the only 13.1 distance required a 20lb pack, or something like that. So I took that to ruck in and only discovered on the shuttle up to the start that I didn’t need to take it, that I could run the HM. There were 15 or 20 other HM runners and they didn’t appear confused, so maybe I just missed the clear instructions somewhere.

I’m glad I ran this race but wouldn’t run it again. It was just more technical than I like for a trail run, in places, and not as enjoyable of a run as I like to have on a trail run. But I’m glad I spent a few hours on the Trace. Lots of history on that old road.

DIFFICULTY
3
PRODUCTION
3
SCENERY
3
SWAG
3

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This race is not for people who are uber competitive. It's just a fun race for local / regional people who want to get out and run along the river. … MORE

This race is not for people who are uber competitive. It’s just a fun race for local / regional people who want to get out and run along the river. It is well organized although the directions on the website are not super clear. I seem to always go to the wrong location but always eventually find the race. I usually leave a few minutes earlier than I think I need for this reason.

The aid station is epic. If you’ve run a 50k before then this is the kind of aid station you may have seen on those longer races. If you’ve run with Mainly Marathons, this is the same kind of aid station as they have, and the course idea is the same. It’s a figure 8 loop and so you pass the aid station twice in your loop… or once about every 3’ish miles.

People dress up, parents push strollers, there are slow runners and fast runners. Enjoy the cool air and the view of the river. As long as Awesome Sauce keeps producing races I’ll keep running them. They are, after all, local. I probably would not drive more than an hour or two to run these races because there are other local races in most parts of the country with similarly produced races.

The race is small. Maybe 100 people between all race distances (5k, 10k, half, full, and 50k). I was running the half and don’t think there were more than just a few people left running the longer distances when I finished.

There are heated restrooms in multiple locations along the course. No portable toilets, which is nice.

The race is not chip-timed and I am not even sure if they recorded my time. If they did it wasn’t super accurate because I stood in line behind someone to let them know that I’d actually finished. The woman recording finishes was seated at a table under a pavilion near the finish line. So if you are looking for something more official, this ain’t it. But if you are looking to go out and maybe just have a good run with other runners, this might be your kind of race.

DIFFICULTY
1
PRODUCTION
4
SCENERY
3
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3

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This was my first stage race but not my first set of multi-day long runs. Before this race the longest it has taken me to run 20 miles was 4:43. … MORE

This was my first stage race but not my first set of multi-day long runs. Before this race the longest it has taken me to run 20 miles was 4:43. Days 1 and 2 of this stage race were only about 17 and 18 miles, respectively. Day 1 took me 5:18 and day 2 took me 5:30. On day 2 I was 30 minutes past the cutoff time.

Here are some “never before”s for me. Never before have I finished last. Never before have a finished past the cutoff. Never before have I taken 5+ hours to run 17+ miles. Never before have I gotten lost on a course. Never before have a gotten stung by a bee while running. On Day 2 I was stung by yellow jackets multiple times on three different places on the course. Never before have I DNF’d a race. I went out to run on Day 3 but turned around inside the first half mile because I was still sick from the bee stings of the day before. The toxins really kicked in hard in the afternoon of Day 2, and I was sick all evening, slept 0 minutes that night, and tried to run in the morning. It wasn’t going to happen so I turned around and headed back to the car. Too bad though because Day 3 promised to be the easiest and most runnable of the three courses. The time I have listed of 10:48, is because there is no DNF option for a race on Race Raves. I have just put my total time for the first two days.

Yellow jacket stings aside, I would not do this race again. Why? The description of this race undersells, imo, the difficulty of the course. It is basically unrunnable for the average runner like me. I’m nearly always a middle of the pack finisher but on Day 2 I was on a first name basis with the course sweeper (who got lost with me at one point). I very much appreciate what this race company is doing by developing new trails for recreational use, and I have run other of their races, but this course seemed to be chosen for no other reason than that is was insanely difficult and technical and steep.

The people who ran this race were young’ish and older. But they were super fit and smokin’ fast. I was not last on Day 1 but the guy behind me, who finished last, had hurt his leg and I only passed him on the last mile. I was last on Day 2 by about 20 minutes so I took comfort in knowing at least one other person didn’t make the cutoff. I wasn’t the only one, lol.

There were no port-a-potties at the start or aid stations of Day 2. Day 1 there was a bathroom. Day 3 had plenty of port-a-potties at the start. There were maybe two aid stations on Day 1, three on Day 2, and I’m not sure about Day 3… maybe three? But they were not well-stocked.

If I were going to suggest improvements to the RD of this race they would be these below. And for those running this race take note.

First, describe the course more accurately on the race webpage. Use adjectives that most races don’t use. Repeat them multiple times. Words like, “brutal,” “not runnable for most people,” “savage,” “primarily for elite runners,” etc. Imo, if you don’t regularly finish in the top 25% to 35% of races you enter then be prepared for this to be a long race and one you may not particularly enjoy. I generally finish in the 40% to 60% percentile range. I have finished way lower and way higher, but the norm for me is in the middle. I did not enjoy the two days that I ran. The scenery can be pretty at times but it just seemed designed to be a ridiculously hard race for the average runner. Like maybe the really just want elite runners but didn’t get their race description quite in line with the actual course. It’s not so much the net elevation gain, it’s just that it’s so steep in places, and so often just very technical whether up, down, or flat.

Second, mark the course better. I got lost once and was briefly off course one or two other times. And multiple other times I had to stop and look around to find course markers. And that’s even with the extra flags marking the course for the runners. I would have had an even harder time if I was just following the white blazes as a backpacker after the flags for runners had been removed after the race was over.

Third, have more food at the aid stations. Races like this are usually very good about loading up those aid stations. These have a few basics but were not the kind that most 30k to 50k races provide. They weren’t bad aid stations, they just weren’t the typical smorgasbord of food options I typically see on 30k runs. Lol, but maybe those smokin’ fast elite runners ahead of me don’t stop long enough to stock the aid stations?

Barring these things, at least extend the cutoff time and warn the runners on the race page that the aid stations are not the typical 30k buffet of junk foods and fuels.

As is, this race would be a truly great experience for the runner who wants this kind of spartan experience. Or a competitive runner. And I’m glad I did it and would have finished had it not been for the yellow jackets on Day 2. My legs were fine, body was fine, other than the stings. It’s just that it’s so difficult to cover a course that technical in the amount of time allowed before the cutoff. And at the end of the day I really did want to run (not walk), but so much of this course cannot be run that it was less enjoyable than I expected it to be.

With that said, I will certainly run other Wild Trails races and I absolutely support their mission.

DIFFICULTY
5
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3
SCENERY
5
SWAG
3
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My Garmin is often short by a mile or two on 30k runs, but it measured this one as 16.93 miles. I'm guessing it is probably closer to 19+ but … MORE

My Garmin is often short by a mile or two on 30k runs, but it measured this one as 16.93 miles. I’m guessing it is probably closer to 19+ but maybe not 20? Not sure and I don’t mind some distance variation in the races I run because I’m not a competitive runner and am just fine going a bit shorter or longer than the advertised distance, but for purists you may want to confirm before registering for this one.

The start line is promising. It’s a super pretty area. There isn’t much parking and it seems like basically everyone just parks in the grass along the side of the road. There is a cool country store across from the iron bridge where you start and finish. And that’s also where you get your post race meal. I didn’t stay for the post-race meal because you order from a menu and the line was crazy long with other runners ordering and waiting. It was just a small country store the looks like the restaurant was an afterthought. So it’s not like they have a lot of help back there. I’m sure the food was good but maybe they need to get rid of the menu and just make a standard array of foods and put them on tables for the runners after the race. It’s a small store with not a lot of room for a line. That’s really not a negative at all; just a suggestion. The store was super cute and I’d like to go back and drive through there, and eat at the store, during the week when it’s not so crowded.

Would I recommend this race? Maybe. It was hard, steep and more technical than I like, but I’m an average runner who finishes in the middle of the pack. Out of 102 people who started the race I finished 59th. So if you are in that range of finishers in the races you run you may also think this is a steep and technical race. And there was no great payoff during the race. No incredible views, nothing to redeem itself from the technical work. It’s a pretty course at times, just not spectacular.

I’m glad I ran this one but probably wouldn’t run it again. But I can see the attraction of driving to such a pretty place, camping for the weekend, eating at the Iron Bridge store and cafe, and doing the run.

DIFFICULTY
4
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3
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3
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3
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Asheville is my hometown so any time I get a chance to go back to my hometown, visit with family there, and run a race, I will do it. Lots … MORE

Asheville is my hometown so any time I get a chance to go back to my hometown, visit with family there, and run a race, I will do it. Lots of things to like about this race, not least of which is the location – Asheville. The course is nice but not awesome. That’s not a complaint, it just tempers expectations for those who might be looking for a course with spectacular views. This ain’t it, but you will get some river views and run through some nice old neighborhoods. Not “nice old” as in super ritzy places, but nice and historic, but smaller homes. It’s a very pleasant course.

There are heated bathrooms in the park along the run. One, or two, I think.

Parking requires a shuttle. I used the shuttle and it wasn’t a hard thing, and it’s not far from the start line, but the start line is at a brewery with a gravel parking lot that probably holds only 30 cars. Packet pickup the day before was a real hassle for those who cannot get into the brewery to park. In fact, although getting into the gravel lot to park makes pick up easy, it also makes getting out back to the road difficult because the spaces in and out of the parking lot is tight and it was jammed. My advice would be to park on the road and walk the .1 or .2 miles into the brewery from the road.

The finish festival is great. There was pizza, beer, seating, and it was just a nice area to finish. I will do this race again. It’s a great time of year for a race in Asheville and the weather was great.

Insider tip: The Hole Donut is just a mile or two from the start / finish line. These are THE best donuts you will ever put into your mouth. There are other good donut shops in AVL but this one is, hands down, the best donut in AVL, and in my SO VERY extensive donut research experience, the best anywhere. 🙂 It’s a nice post-race treat.

DIFFICULTY
3
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4
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3
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3

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This race was surprisingly nice! Although I've lived in WNC and Eastern TN for most of my life I don't recall spending any time in Johnson City, TN. It's a … MORE

This race was surprisingly nice! Although I’ve lived in WNC and Eastern TN for most of my life I don’t recall spending any time in Johnson City, TN. It’s a cute town and worth finding a place to eat at after the race. The race was organized well, parking was plentiful and close to the start line, and the course was very nice. The only part of the course I didn’t care for was maybe a mile or two along a divided four-lane, but the rest of the course was through nice old neighborhoods with folks sitting out on their porches cheering runners on, through the ETSU campus, and through the downtown area. A charming course in a charming town. It was a three hour drive for me but I’d definitely do this one again.

The post-race food came from Publix. It wasn’t fancy… basically your typical post-race snacks, and the aid stations had water and Powerade. Certainly adequate, with plenty of volunteers.

We drove in from Chattanooga so I’m not sure what the hotel situation is like near the start line but the course starts right downtown and so I’m certain there would be a few options within easy walking distance.

DIFFICULTY
2
PRODUCTION
4
SCENERY
3
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3

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I ran the 33k, not the 50k. The course is advertised as being very difficult and the pictures on the website suggest a course with spectacular views. This is part … MORE

I ran the 33k, not the 50k. The course is advertised as being very difficult and the pictures on the website suggest a course with spectacular views. This is part of the reason I registered for this race (the views, not the difficulty). But the course was not nearly as difficult as I anticipated. It was plenty hard, but it was also manageable. But there were no views. None. It was either on a gravel or overgrown back road, or in the green tunnel. With that said, the course was still pretty. There were a LOT of water crossings, and none of them were the type you can cross by hopping rocks to keep your feet dry. After mile 3 or 4 you’ll have wet feet for the entire run. This didn’t bother me though and I think if you just wear the right socks and lace your shoes up tightly you’ll be fine.

The race organizers were great, parking was easy, aid stations were well appointed and the volunteers at these stations were super friendly and helpful. There could be a few more porta-johns… well, there could be a few. The only toilets I saw were the campground bathrooms, which had only two stalls in the mens restroom. So plan to arrive early if visiting the john is part of your pre-race ritual.

The post-race food was great, and they had homemade corn salsa, black beans, and pulled chicken on a tortilla. Plus some veggies at the end of the line to add to the tortilla. Plenty of sodas, water, beer, etc., was on hand as well.

Overall, I’d do this race again but probably not the 33k (they call it a 30k but they tell you it’s actually 33k). If I’m going to work that hard I’d probably just like to do the 50k and see the incredible views in the pictures on the registration website.

Worth the trip if you are looking for a well-organized race in a great location.

DIFFICULTY
4
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4
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3
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4

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I'm from Asheville. Born there, but moved away when I got married at 26. I still have family that live here and visit regularly, BUT I generally do NOT go … MORE

I’m from Asheville. Born there, but moved away when I got married at 26. I still have family that live here and visit regularly, BUT I generally do NOT go downtown. The city has become overcrowded and overpriced in the last 30 years, unfortunately. I was visiting family and friends in AVL over this weekend and decided to run this race. I’m glad I did!

Although I generally avoid races that require you to come into town the day before the race for an early packet pickup, or that require you to pay extra for race day packet pickup, I was already coming to town so I went ahead and registered. The packet pickup location is at a brewery and the festival there for pickup was maybe the best race festival I’ve seen anywhere (and that’s over more than 100 races). It was really a cool thing going on at packet pickup at the Highland Brewery.

The race itself was also great. Parking was easy and I think I walked less than a block from where I parked to the start line. That’s unusual for an urban race in a town this size. Asheville is a beautiful small city. I love my city, but I’m biased. But this was a big race and I talked to a few people from out of town who came to town for the race and who loved AVL as well.

Because I spent 26 years in this town I didn’t expect to be awed by the course. But I’m telling you that Asheville put its best foot forward with this race. Parking was easy, plenty of toilets, a super pretty course through town, the river, and nice neighborhoods, and then a finish back into the downtown.

To the race organizers, I’d change two things. First, have the finish come in flat or down hill. That last two blocks running up hill through the finish line was not fun or appreciated. Second, and this is a bigger complaint, I saw two things to drink at the finish line… water handed to the runners as they crossed the finish line, and beer in the finish festival area. No sports drink? Not even a water table in the finish festival area??? And runners like to drink, but a lot of runners don’t drink at all… tell the breweries to bring NA beer, or get some Athletic Brewing Company NA brews. And if you add an actual meal, this would be one of my top 5 races. That is literally the only thing missing to make this a serious contender for a top 50 road race in the country. Despite the lack of a meal, or sports drink, this is a race that I’ll be doing again next year. Worth coming from out of town for the race and a visit to AVL.

DIFFICULTY
3
PRODUCTION
4
SCENERY
4
SWAG
3

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This is a pretty park. When I got to the race I thought it was a trail run. That's just my bad for not paying enough attention to the race … MORE

This is a pretty park. When I got to the race I thought it was a trail run. That’s just my bad for not paying enough attention to the race info. But I was glad it was a road run once I was a couple of miles in. I’ve raced in this park probably four or five times, all of which were trail races, and doing trail races here is sublime. Well, maybe not sublime, but it’s worth a few hours drive. Doing the road course here means you don’t get to see waterfalls and have water crossings, but it is still a decent course. Few cars, a lakeside run for part of the course, and it’s not a huge race so you don’t have to fight through crowds (if you are slow’ish, like me) in the first mile or two.

Parking was easy. They had toilets. Post-race food was okay (but not vegetarian), and the SWAG was all pretty average. Average is not bad, I just mean that it checks most of the standard boxes that races need to check these days – a metal, t-shirt, a few post-race snacks, and that’s about it.

Worth doing if you are within a few hours drive, but certainly not a destination race.

DIFFICULTY
3
PRODUCTION
3
SCENERY
3
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3

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This is a great park for locals like me and I train here on a regular basis. I probably would not run this race if I wasn't local though. The … MORE

This is a great park for locals like me and I train here on a regular basis. I probably would not run this race if I wasn’t local though. The trails are only okay, there are no views, no water crossings or water at all, and plenty of hills. I’ve run this race three times I think, but only because it’s only ten minutes from my house.

With that said, if you are not local and haven’t been to Chattanooga, it’s worth a weekend to come do the race if you were already wanting to come to the area for a visit. It’s not a bad race at all, and the race org is fine… they check all the required boxes and not really any of the extra boxes. There are only a few aid stations and the food at the end is basically just bananas and granola bars. That’s not a complaint, really, but these days that’s a below average post-race snack menu for as expensive as races are these days.

Parking is fine and there are port-a-potties at the start (and you loop back to the start where you do a second loop on a different trail, so you see them twice in the half marathon). I wish they would do a road race in this park but the race org is called Wild Trails, not Wild Roads, so I doubt that’s likely from this group. 🙂

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3
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3
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2
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3

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I don't know if this run was just really, really difficult or if I was out of running shape. Maybe both. I had done shorter runs in the few weeks … MORE

I don’t know if this run was just really, really difficult or if I was out of running shape. Maybe both. I had done shorter runs in the few weeks prior to this one but nothing that approached 18 miles. It was hot, so very hot and humid.

Did I say it was hot? Or humid? It was. The finish line is at the put-in for the lake and I basically just kept running through the finish line, to the pizza tent to grab a slice, and then straight into the water. I stayed in the water cooling off for probably 20 minutes, and I was not the only runner who was doing this. Clearly runners had been thinking about this during the last few miles of the race.

For a trail run it was so-so. That’s not a knock on the race organizers or the state park. I’m from the Southeast and currently live in Chattanooga. I generally find trail courses to be not a great ROI. You work really hard and don’t get a lot of payoff in terms of views or waterfalls, etc. Still, I do the trail runs here because… well, because I live here. I wuld say that the trail itself was decent. There were rocky and rooty places but there were also plenty of places that weren’t rooty and rocky.

There were port-a-potties on site, parking was easy enough, and although I didn’t camp in the park I do believe there was camping available, or lodging close to the park.

I’d recommend this one for runners who live within a couple hours drive, but probably not further than that. I am not itching to do it again but would if I were looking for a nearby race and this was the only one that fit my calendar.

DIFFICULTY
4
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4
SCENERY
3
SWAG
3

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First the pros. - Really easy parking and packet pickup. - The absolute best aid station I've been to. Ever. In 100+ races. It wasn't the food that made this … MORE

First the pros.
– Really easy parking and packet pickup.

– The absolute best aid station I’ve been to. Ever. In 100+ races. It wasn’t the food that made this aid station great… the food was average. But the guys running the aid station dressed as prisoners – orange pants and a white tank top – and were absolutely excited when I rounded the corner by myself, but well below 50%th percentile in the race. They screamed, shouted, whooped, cussed a little, and did ALL of my water bottle filling for me and then whooped and hollered as I headed on down the course.

– The waterfall and creek crossings. Really pretty, and unexpected. It was nice to stop and wash the poison ivy off of my legs and then drench myself in the water.

The cons:
– The course was brutal. Brutal ups. Brutal downs. And it was very technical. I did the 18 miler and I think maybe only 6 miles was flat’ish and not super technical. It was a lot like what you’d expect to find at a Spartan race.

The average:
– The swag. No metal, which is fine by me, but it’s not the norm.

– The post-race food was not what I expected it would be. My impression was that there would be some great post-race food. Unless I missed something there was just a lot of post-race snacks and drinks, the same stuff they had at the aid station. They did have some cake at the finish line.

– The post-race beer. First, bring some local craft beer. Second, get some non-alcoholic beer for those of us who don’t drink.

Overall, I’m glad I did this race but I wouldn’t do it again. If they could plot a course that had more good views and less brutal ups and downs then it would be good. I don’t mind the ups and downs but that is a lot of effort to really have the only payoff be a single pretty waterfall. Much of the rest of the time it is like you are running through a green tunnel that feels like it’s closing in on you. I heard repeat runners talking about this course, that they liked it, and so some will really like this sort of race. Run your own race, they say.

Even if you do want to do this race it’s not really a destination or bucket list race. I drove 3 hours to get to it. If you are driving to the race the night before, the hotels are very close by. The park is easy to get to. Parking is simple. There were indoor flush toilets close to the start line. This was not a bad race, just not a great race.

DIFFICULTY
5
PRODUCTION
3
SCENERY
2
SWAG
2

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This was only my second 30k run. I'm from Tennessee and so the Black Hills were a bucket list place to run. The course itself isn't through the most stunning … MORE

This was only my second 30k run. I’m from Tennessee and so the Black Hills were a bucket list place to run. The course itself isn’t through the most stunning part of the Black Hills, but it is a pretty course. I would do this course again.

A shuttle was required to get to the start line of this race. The shuttle was easy to catch and the race started on a dirt road where you got off the shuttle. There were some hills but for the most part the forest was open and you just have the most beautiful place to run for a few hours.

There were port-a-jons, parking by the shuttle was easy, and the post-race food was both good and plentiful. I’d love to do this race again.

I stayed in nearby Rapid City, so I’m not sure about hotels or camping near Sturgis, but if you stayed in Sturgis you could probably walk to the start line. It would probably be a 10-15 minute walk if you were staying on that side of the town. And Sturgis is a cute little town to walk through, although a lot of the shops seemed to be tattoo places, bars, or places catering to stuff bikers will want.

DIFFICULTY
4
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4
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4
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3

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This was my first 30k and I chose this race because it would be an easy entry into the 30k distance. It was along a gravel road and was almost … MORE

This was my first 30k and I chose this race because it would be an easy entry into the 30k distance. It was along a gravel road and was almost completely a gentle downhill grade. The host town was St. Regis and the highlight of this town was the Travel Center at the gas station. I don’t like touristy stuff but the Travel Center was pretty cool. And get a mulberry shake!

The course was okay. Although it was down, and it was a pleasant course to run with regards to scenery, it felt more technical than a gravel road should feel. It was a shuttle ride to the top of the course and that was easy enough. And there were plenty of aid stations, and I believe there were toilets at all, or almost all, aid stations. The post-race food was great and the best post-race food I’ve had in a while. But… please start offering food that vegetarians can eat. After all, part of our race fee is going toward the post-race meal. And those veggie meats are where we are going to get protein replacement… that’s not coming from fruit salad or cole slaw. I don’t think I’ve been to more than one or two races, out of more than 100, where post-race food had anything for plant-based eaters. A minor complaint though and this was a decent race and if I were in that area next time the race was held I’d likely run it again. But it’s not a destination race or a bucket list race. Still it was a fun race and I am glad I did it.

DIFFICULTY
2
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4
SCENERY
3
SWAG
3

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This course was just very pretty. It was hilly, but the views were constant and I didn't really think about the hills very much. It isn't a fast course, or … MORE

This course was just very pretty. It was hilly, but the views were constant and I didn’t really think about the hills very much. It isn’t a fast course, or at least it wasn’t for me.

The race org was good, with a great post-race party, plenty of food and drink. Or plenty of drink, anyway. I don’t actually remember the food, except that it wasn’t vegetarian (which I am). I think it was clam chowder, or something like that. I don’t know what the hotel situation is like; we camped the night before and the weather was perfect for camping… and running.

Overall, this was a great race. I live in TN and although I did not travel to OR solely for this race (we have family there), if I could pair this race with a couple of other pretty races in that region then it would have been worth the trip just for the running. It’s not a bucket list race and I probably wouldn’t make the trip across the country just for this race unless it were a runcation and I was going to be in this part of the PNW anyway. But I’m super glad this one found its way onto my race calendar.

I would highly recommend this one. Everything from the start line through the post-race party was just really well done.

DIFFICULTY
3
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4
SCENERY
4
SWAG
3

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The draw for this race is where it is held, as in the nearby towns and Sun Moon Lake. The course was okay, nothing special. A good course, but not … MORE

The draw for this race is where it is held, as in the nearby towns and Sun Moon Lake. The course was okay, nothing special. A good course, but not a destination course except that it is near a very pretty part of Taiwan.

The SWAG was endless. All sorts of things in the goodie bag, including a frozen chicken filet (in another TW race the SWAG bag included a bag of rice). The toilet situation was good. If you do this race you’ll likely want to take a taxi from your hotel. As I recall the parking wasn’t good and that’s why I and two other racers at my hotel got a taxi. And we all took a taxi back as well.

Overall this was a good race. I was in Taipei at the time and I’m glad I took the train / bus down to Nantou for this race but it’s not a destination race and so I’d not likely do it again, unless already in the area.

DIFFICULTY
3
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4
SCENERY
3
SWAG
4

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Races in Taiwan are nothing like those in the US, except for the actual running, of course. They have pre-race group calisthenics. Lots of SWAG, lots of festival, and the … MORE

Races in Taiwan are nothing like those in the US, except for the actual running, of course. They have pre-race group calisthenics. Lots of SWAG, lots of festival, and the aid stations have massive amounts of every kind of food you can think of. Seriously. Each of the aid stations are like the church potluck, or like the Golden Corral buffet. If you’ve only raced in the US then you are in for a treat. This race, like all TW races, was no exception.

This is at a touristy area south of Taipei. There were a lot of mountains, but the views from the top were stunning. It was really a great course.

Parking for this race wasn’t the best and I’d recommend you stay at a nearby hotel, within walking distance. I did, but the hotel owner insisted that I not walk. Instead he wanted to loan me his car so I could drive down. I was hesitant but he insisted. This is how TW’ese people are, just very friendly. I arrived early’ish and had to sort of create my own parking space. So be aware of this if you plan to drive in for this race.

DIFFICULTY
4
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5
SCENERY
5
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5

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I enjoy these races because of the friendly people, and the race organizers. The courses aren't especially pretty, but they are usually in a state park. There is one port-a-potty … MORE

I enjoy these races because of the friendly people, and the race organizers. The courses aren’t especially pretty, but they are usually in a state park. There is one port-a-potty and one aid station. The aid station is stocked with more food than you can possibly eat. I had to discipline myself to not eat too much each time around! You loop around and you see the same people and wave. It’s unlike any other race or race series I’ve done before.

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I enjoy these races because of the friendly people, and the race organizers. The courses aren't especially pretty, but they are usually in a state park. There is one port-a-potty … MORE

I enjoy these races because of the friendly people, and the race organizers. The courses aren’t especially pretty, but they are usually in a state park. There is one port-a-potty and one aid station. The aid station is stocked with more food than you can possibly eat. I had to discipline myself to not eat too much each time around! You loop around and you see the same people and wave. It’s unlike any other race or race series I’ve done before.

DIFFICULTY
1
PRODUCTION
3
SCENERY
2
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3

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I enjoy these races because of the friendly people, and the race organizers. The courses aren't especially pretty, but they are usually in a state park. There is one port-a-potty … MORE

I enjoy these races because of the friendly people, and the race organizers. The courses aren’t especially pretty, but they are usually in a state park. There is one port-a-potty and one aid station. The aid station is stocked with more food than you can possibly eat. I had to discipline myself to not eat too much each time around! You loop around and you see the same people and wave. It’s unlike any other race or race series I’ve done before.

DIFFICULTY
1
PRODUCTION
3
SCENERY
3
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3

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This was a small race and parking was easy. The race was organized fine. Pretty standard things and they checked the boxes. The course wasn't especially pretty but it was … MORE

This was a small race and parking was easy. The race was organized fine. Pretty standard things and they checked the boxes. The course wasn’t especially pretty but it was safe and no complaints about it. I probably wouldn’t run it again but only because I live two hours away from this race. If I was local I’d certainly consider doing this one again. But it’s not one you want to travel for unless you are just going around doing all of the Whiskey Runs.

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2
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3
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2
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I had a nose cautery on my nose three days before this race and so I walked it. The course was easy, the scenery along the ocean (for part of … MORE

I had a nose cautery on my nose three days before this race and so I walked it. The course was easy, the scenery along the ocean (for part of the way) was nice, and the post-race food was decent. At this time of the year there weren’t that many people in AC and so it was easy to find affordable accommodation near the start line. I do not appreciate needing to pay extra to pick up the packet on the day of the race, or to arrive a day early to pick up on site. This feels like a money grab to me and I generally don’t register for that type of race.

There were port-a-poddies at most of the aid stations, as I recall. I did not drive so I don’t know about parking. Overall, a decent run. It would be nice if it was in a different city though. AC is not a great place to hang out and wander around in. I was told by multiple people not to wander off of the boardwalk after dark. I didn’t want to anyway due to my nose cautery. I walked the entire race with gauze hanging out of my nose. 🙂

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3
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3

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So this is a race that seems to be primarily run by members of a running club near Fort Payne or Rainesville, AL. The production rating I gave it is … MORE

So this is a race that seems to be primarily run by members of a running club near Fort Payne or Rainesville, AL. The production rating I gave it is low, and that’s the way the race organizers like it. There are no chip timers, no start and finish line… you touch a mailbox at the end of a driveway on some back rural route, to start, and then finish whenever you feel like you are close enough to the mailbox to be done. I love it! This is an out and back course that has a single aid station at the turnaround point. The race organizer, Crazy Jerry, really is a personality and it’s easy to see how he gets his name. Super nice guy.

This is a race worth doing. In the last 15 years the races he has organized have donated $450k to local charities for abused or homeless women. I think there were less than 30 people running this race and I think I probably chatted with more people pre and post race at this race than at any other single race, even those with 5,000 runners.

The course is super rural and pretty. In the first 6.5 miles I think only five or six cars passed me. Someone asked about a port-a-potty and the answer was, “There are woods everywhere! You have 13.1 miles of port-a-potty!” That may turn some readers off but that gives you an idea how rural the course is. No turns at all. Just 6.6 miles out, and 6.6 back. It is pretty hilly though.

FYI, if you do this race in Mentone, stay at the Andiamo Lodge. This is the starting and finish point for the race. You have muffins at the lodge in the morning and the pre-race meeting is on the lodge back porch. After the race eat at Seabolt’s Taco Truck or Wildflower Cafe. And the cost is $100 for the trifecta of half marathons, three days in a row. Can’t beat that.

The course was actually 13.55 on my Garmin, but the other runners measured 13.74 or 13.75 almost to a person. Probably 1,000+ feet of ascent.

Absolutely zero frills at this race. Just friendly people which, imo, is the best frill of all. I had a nice conversation with a blind runner and her guide over the first three miles. We ran / walked together until I finally took off running because my wife was waiting for me at the finish line. You don’t get that sort of fun stuff at the much larger races, which I also love doing, but this was a special race.

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3
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1
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4
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3

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Either I ran past the Alamo and didn't see it, or we didn't run by it. I think the latter. After the race I walked to the Alamo and there … MORE

Either I ran past the Alamo and didn’t see it, or we didn’t run by it. I think the latter. After the race I walked to the Alamo and there was construction in front of the building so I think we didn’t actually run by it. Understandable and I suppose the road works will be done by 2024.

This race is worth it for San Antonio (and the Riverwalk) and for the Alamo itself. Otherwise this would not be a race I’d have wanted to do. With that said, production was great, the post-race food was awesome, volunteers, aid stations, port-a-potty location, everything… the production was very good. Most races this size have good production but this was better than most others I’ve done.

The course itself was okay. The first several miles were through downtown areas that were really a joy to run through. There were a few middle miles that were on busier roads and the scenery was nothing special. The last few miles were nice. I’d probably do this race again if I lived within a few hours drive but I wouldn’t fly out to TX from TN to do it again, as I did this time. It was probably just below a bucket list race for me and I’m glad I did it, but in retrospect it probably didn’t deserve the “near bucket list” status.

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So this is my first 25k race, and only my second race west of the Mississippi. My time for this 25k was far better than any trail race I've done … MORE

So this is my first 25k race, and only my second race west of the Mississippi. My time for this 25k was far better than any trail race I’ve done in the Appalachians, which are far more rocky and rooty than this race in San Angelo. I flew out to TX from TN for this race on Saturday, and for the Run the Alamo on Sunday. It was BY FAR the best trail run I’ve done, and that’s probably only about 20 races, but I just really enjoyed this and didn’t want it to end.

The pre-race dinner was typical (spaghetti, salad, bread, tea), and appreciated. Good food, it was hot, and there were picnic tables so you end up chatting with other runners while you eat. The dinner is at packet pickup, at the start line. Primitive camping surrounds the pavilion where you eat. I did see quite a few people camping but I didn’t want to deal with the tent stuff before a race and after. My phone told me the temp was 42 at start. My car told me it was 32. In either case, it was a little cool.

Although people from that part of the country might chuckle at my raving of the scenery in this state park, but we don’t have anything like this back east. It was stunning. What a great place to run, and I’d consider flying back out again just to do this race.

The aid stations were super. They had port-a-potties at most of them and they had plenty of food and drink. There is a 100k option for this race and the courses run concurrent in places, so the food needs to be stocked for them, I suppose.

Overall this was a super race. When I went to TX my primary goal was to go for the Run the Alamo. The San Angelo race was an afterthought. The Alamo race was very much so-so and I’m glad I found this desert trail race.

DIFFICULTY
3
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4
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5
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4

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You'll do this race because of the finish line in a great small city and because you expect to have a good time. The scenery is nothing special, but isn't … MORE

You’ll do this race because of the finish line in a great small city and because you expect to have a good time. The scenery is nothing special, but isn’t anything to complain about either. The first four miles are rolling along a road and sidewalk and the next nine miles are along a paved greenway. This has everything you could want in a race: easy packet pickup, port-a-potties at start and aid stations, plenty of aid stations, great post-race support, and the typical medal and t-shirt at finish.

The only two things that would make this race better are both possibly beyond expectation. The first is to have the packet pickup at the high school where everyone parks. That would avoid the 4-lane hwy crossing by 2,000 runners and it would provide an indoor place to wait, particularly in case of bad weather, which we narrowly avoided this year. It would also mean a lot less walking to packet pickup. Traffic up here for an hour before the race is jammed. Plan to arrive earlier than you think you need to arrive, just to get through traffic and parked. Heaviest traffic I’ve seen for a race, even for much larger races.

The second thing is to drop the cap of runners. 1,850 for the half was a bit crowded, although I’ve certainly run races that were more crowded, so that’s a minor issue, imo.

Another reviewer mentioned bag pickup. I didn’t use this so I have no observation. I also didn’t notice the food shortage, although that could have been after I finished.

If you are a runner who clocks a sub-9 minute mile but who doesn’t typically care where you start, or who likes to start in the back of the field, this is one race where you may want to reconsider. I’ve done that in previous years at this race and it’s not easy working your way up once the trail narrows down to a greenway after mile 4. I started near the pacer whose time I expected to match and things moved pretty much my preferred speed after the first quarter mile or so. So if you start with your pacer time then you should be fine.

I drove four hours to get to this race and this is my third time. And I’ll probably be back. It’s a really nice race and a great weekend destination. This is one that the non-runner wife is happy to return to each year.

DIFFICULTY
2
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5
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3
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3

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This course was not pancake flat like a beach course would be, but it was close to it. It's an out and back course, partially along the Chattanooga Riverpark and … MORE

This course was not pancake flat like a beach course would be, but it was close to it. It’s an out and back course, partially along the Chattanooga Riverpark and partially on the South Chickamauga Creek Greenway. A really nice run, and a nice change from the typical HM courses that follow the Riverpark for the entire course.

This was a small race. It was 39 degrees at start, and raining until about ten minutes before start and I suppose some of those who registered didn’t actually come out to run. The 19 runners who did show up didn’t have to fight through crowds in the first mile or two as is generally the case. I’m surprised it’s so small since the race organizer does several other races and has an emailing list that he can use to advertise this race. Plus, runners can sign up on one of several online race finder sites. So I was baffled at the small size. But it was okay by me since I ended up winning my age category, which was a first! 🙂

Parking was between packet pickup and the start line. And there is plenty of parking should the race grow in size; it’s at a community college with multiple lots. Packet pickup was inside one of the CC buildings, next to a Be Caffeinated coffee shop in what I guess was a student lounge area. There were plenty of bathrooms in the building although with only 19 people they weren’t busy. The coffee cup SWAG was a nice change from the medal, but the white long sleeve cotton shirt probably won’t see the light of day for too many. It’s a decidedly unattractive garment. That’s not why most people run these races – for the shirt – but it is a missed opportunity for the race organizers for free advertising for next years’ race.

Anyway, I would run this race again since it is my town. I’d probably not drive across the country to come to this race though. But the course is pretty enough, and if you have time to spend a night in Chattanooga, it’s worth driving a few hours to come out for this one.

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1
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4
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3

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This course had the best volunteers of any race I've ever done, in probably 75 races. They were super helpful, asked what we needed when we got to the aid … MORE

This course had the best volunteers of any race I’ve ever done, in probably 75 races. They were super helpful, asked what we needed when we got to the aid station, helped fill bottles, etc. The aid stations were stocked. Plenty of junk food, sports drink (not diluted with water), water, bacon, quesadillas, and even Coke. Hands down the best aid stations and the best volunteers. Full stop. Weirdly, this is in contrast to the race I did last week that was put on by the same company. That race had great aid stations but zero volunteers. Zero. On the entire course, and I and others got lost due to one turn that had unclear trail markings, apparently. That was Frozen Falls. But this Eagle Ridge race was great, in that regard.

The start/finish line was close to the state park lodge and it’s a great lodge with an amazing view over the lake from the top of the mountain. Indoor bathrooms, a fire in the huge fireplace, plenty of space for runners to sit and relax before walking out to the start line 50m away. Parking was aplenty and located between the lodge entrance and the start line.

The course scenery was ho-hum. There were a few middle miles that ran along the lake and were quite nice. There were other miles that were super technical and it was basically walking. There as maybe a half a mile somewhere in there that was through a boulder or rock field and without markers everyone would have gotten lost as the trail itself wasn’t obvious. But the trail was marked really well and you know to keep the hanging orange ribbons to your right. At the end of the few miles on the lake you take a hard left and immediately start a climb up a very steep gravel road. I mean *very* steep. It was maybe three-quarters of a mile to a mile long but no one I could see in front or behind me was running. It was all I could do to walk fast without stopping. This was maybe around mile 10 (for the half marathoners) and so you are already tired. Once you reach the top you take a left and head down a trail again, hit an aid station and then run the last mile or two to the finish line. I was so beat by that time, and tired from the climb, I ate and drank too much (M&M, quesadilla, Coke, and sports drink). I know better! But that made the last mile or two slower and less pleasant with that sloshing around in my tummy. Not a smart move, but man, I was feeling a bit hungry!

This was a hard course. Maybe the hardest I’ve done. And the payoff in scenery was not a solid ROI for the output of effort. I’m glad I did this race, but for this reason I don’t think I’d do this course again. If I did do the race again I would take the wife to the lodge for the weekend and would run the race because of the aid stations and volunteer support. I recommend this race, at least once. But it’s not an easy course. And it is short of 13 miles. My GPS said 11.54, but I typically end up with a mile short on trail runs (Garmin Fenix 5). Not sure why, but whatever. But the trail organizers did indicate that the race was somewhere in the 12+ mile range. So if you are a purist looking for a certified course this probably wouldn’t be it.

The finish line was typical. They had chili and chicken noodle soup. I am generally a plant-based eater and always a vegetarian. Plant-based options are probably a bit much to ask for but it would be nice to see more races offer vegetarian options for post race food, other than the Saltine crackers I munched on at the end of this race. No complaints though. Most races don’t have soup at all and this was a solid race in terms of food, across the board.

DIFFICULTY
4
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5
SCENERY
3
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3

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In more than 60 HM's this is maybe the prettiest trail course I've done. It's just non-stop river or lake, with multiple river crossings over swinging bridges and other log … MORE

In more than 60 HM’s this is maybe the prettiest trail course I’ve done. It’s just non-stop river or lake, with multiple river crossings over swinging bridges and other log bridges. There are very technical and hilly parts, and there are places where you run on a smooth paved trail through the wooded area, and terrain that includes everything in between those two extremes. It’s a great course. There were multiple places that I and other runners stopped along the route to take photos. By the halfway point I stopped taking photos because I figured I already had photos of similar beauty. But it was non-stop.

There were four aid stations and they are unmanned. They all had water, sports drink, and plenty of snacks, including gel. At least one of them had small cans of Coke as well. I’m not a huge use of aid station food but I did stop for about five minutes at the final aid station and enjoy the beauty while munching on a bag of Doritos and drinking a can of Coke, around mile 10. I finished 3rd in my age / gender category, which I’ve never done, ever, and if I’d known I was going to place I wouldn’t have stopped for five minutes.

I also got lost at one point and wandered around for five minutes before myself and four other lost runners finally found the trail, by sheer guess. Even then, for another mile I wasn’t certain I was on the right path. I’m sure we weren’t the only ones, and one of the runners said that this same thing happened last year when he and about 20 other runners got lost. Luckily, it was at a road, where you can go straight, left, or right, so at least we were on a road and not stuck in the woods somewhere. The only thing this race can do better is to put volunteers at some of the less obvious turnoffs later in the race after the running field has thinned out. There were zero volunteers on the course and the pre-race email said to memorize the course. That’s not normal, I thought, and I’ve always been in races where the trail was marked well… and since I’m not last or first I usually just follow the crowd. It’s never failed. But if you are running this race, take the email seriously and memorize the course.

There were indoor bathrooms in the parking area and the course passed by one, and maybe two, indoor bathrooms in the park. And I saw at least one port-a-potty. So there were plenty of places to use the restroom if you needed it.

Parking was plenty but it was about a seven or eight minute walk to the packet pickup / start line. In 19 degree temps I was not keen to walk down to pick up my packet, walk back up to my car, and then walk back down to the race. It would be nice if they’d set up packet pickup inside the visitor center next to the bathrooms. It would, of course, require the visitor center to open a bit early, but it might also bring them a bit of additional business in selling shirts, hats, or whatever.

This race is about 1.5 hour drive from my house and I’d say it’s easily worth a two hour drive, although I might stay in the lodge next time, and there will be a next time for me. I loved this race. If not for the lack of volunteers and the all the cold weather walking required pre-race, this would easily be a five-star race.

The SWAG is typical. The shirt was long sleeve and not tech, which is fine by me. The finisher bling was wood, which is what this race company does. I do wish races would branch out of the typical shirt and start providing visors, race hats, beanie hats for cold weather, or decent runners gloves. The gloves would have been welcome among the runners. I chatted with one lady who said she couldn’t open her aid station gel because her hands were numb. I mean, that’s on her for not having gloves in 19 degree weather, but still, the gloves would have been a great addition. No complaints though. This is a solid race!

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5
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3
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This was a well-organized course. My hometown is Asheville and I wanted to go back to visit family, and so I stayed outside of town. But there is at least … MORE

This was a well-organized course. My hometown is Asheville and I wanted to go back to visit family, and so I stayed outside of town. But there is at least one hotel, maybe two, within easy walking distance of the start line. The parking was about a ten minute walk from the start but it was mapped out on the website clearly and so no issues parking.

The weather was cold, which is expected in January in WNC, but the staging area pre-start is at a school and it was nice, for a change, to be able to hang out in the warmth until a moment or two before the race started.

The course was pretty once it got to the river, and along River Rd., and you go by the old Asheville Speedway, and to the end of the riverwalk, then back. I’d do this course again, but only if I were in town visiting family over that weekend. It’s a good race, certainly worth doing, but maybe not one you’ll drive very far to get to unless you just want to visit AVL or were going to be there anyway.

Plenty of toilets along the route, aid stations were great, and the hot chocolate at the end was also nice. And good. Not cheap powder. But I’m puzzled why the French Broad Chocolate Co. would sponsor this race and provide the hot chocolate but serve it to runners in white (what looked like) hospital pill/med cups. Seems like a whole lot of free advertising to serve cups that are a bit larger – maybe espresso cups? – and marked with the FBHC Co. name. Not a gripe, just an observation.

Nothing negative about this race. Absolutely do it if you are local or regional and looking for a nice urban course and don’t mind the cold. I think it was 29 degrees when we started. 34 or 35 when we finished. Then head over to The Hole Donut Company about 1.5 miles away for some fresh handmade donuts. Top five donuts I’ve ever eaten.

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4

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So I've run a lot of races in cold weather, and this race was not particularly cold. It was in the mid-30s I believe. But... the organizers need to plan … MORE

So I’ve run a lot of races in cold weather, and this race was not particularly cold. It was in the mid-30s I believe. But… the organizers need to plan a bit better for the cold weather. You’ve got runners taking the ferry from the mainland as early as 6:30, and the half marathon (which I ran) didn’t start until 9:30. I appreciate the late start on a cold morning, actually, but runners were super cold. I stood around for well over an hour in the 38 degree weather, doing nothing. There were heaters but more than half of them were out of fuel by 8:15am. The others had limited space around them and other runners were understandably crowding in around, but there just wasn’t enough space.

Suggestions? Bring in more heaters. Make sure all have plenty of gas. Don’t just enclose the back wall of the tent, enclose the sides and part of the front, at least. And finally, have packet pickup open until the last race starts; be sure your website has the correct times for packet pickup. My race started at 9:30 but packet pickup ended – according to the website – at 7:40. Unless I clicked on another page, where it said it ended at 8:30. We stayed on the island overnight and drove a golf cart for 20 minutes to the race, so that 20 minutes at 20 mph on a cart didn’t help keep me warm.

BUT, these things above are the only complaints about this very cool (no pun intended) race! This race was awesome and I’d go back and run it again. And to be fair, this was unusually cold weather for Daufuskie… but still, there is a weather forecast to help planning.

The course was beautiful. The last two miles were so pretty, but also brutal. They were on the ocean and a biting cold strong headwind made running hard. I ran two 1:30 slower per mile in the last two miles than my average for the other miles. It was demoralizing, tbh. But that was no fault of the race orgs, it just is what it is, and I loved it. You run through a golf community, the historic area, the beach, down packed sand roads with hanging Spanish Moss, and I’ve run only a few courses that were more pretty. Out of maybe 75 races I’ve done this course was top 10.

I appreciated the pre-race cinnamon rolls, but the post-race food was ho-hum. I’m a plant-based eater and this is the ONLY race I’ve ever seen veggie burgers at the post-race meal, so kudos for that! But it was a burger on a bun, and that’s it. No tomatoes, no lettuce, onion… but maybe I expect too much? 🙂 They had chips, plenty of drinks, beer, and live music. If it had not been colder I would have stayed longer. Honestly, not much more you can ask for here.

The SWAG was decent. The duffle bag I thought I wouldn’t use was put into immediate use and is now my race bag. And it’s nice to get something other than a t-shirt. The medal was fine.

Plenty of toilets, plenty of aid stations, and the spectators were super friendly. I’d love to do this race again but I live six hours away, by car. Such a pretty place, and race. I would highly recommend this.

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I don't know why this race doesn't have more participation. Actually, it's probably because there isn't a great website for this race and you can't register until just a couple … MORE

I don’t know why this race doesn’t have more participation. Actually, it’s probably because there isn’t a great website for this race and you can’t register until just a couple of months prior to the race. I was worried it was going to be a flop. But it wasn’t…

This was one fun race! The course is through a lot of older neighborhoods and it is completely flat. The only complaint I would have about the course is that some of the roads were in desperate need of repair and there were a few places where I felt like I was on a trail run. But that’s a minor ding to an otherwise really wonderful race.

The race venue was downtown Mobile, where there are plenty of hotels to stay within easy walking distance to the start and finish line (not the same place), and Dauphin St. has plenty of great restaurants. Roosters, Mo’ Bay Beignets, Spot of Tea, Ruby Slippers, and more. Not a lot for plant-based eaters, but we did find options that would fit our diet.

There were porta-johns, the aid stations were aplenty – including one stop with kids handing out donut holes, and the spectators were better than most races. A lot of folks came out from their houses to wave and cheer, even the course volunteers did some cheering.

The post-race gala had a jazz band, ice cream, beer, the typical post-race food, and breakfast catered by a local restaurant. The one request I’d make of this race, and all of them, is to include some sort of plant-based protein for plant-based eaters. Find a restaurant that will do that sort of thing. A lot of runners are vegetarian or plant-based. Include chocolate milk, and soy milk. But these are requests, not complaints.

I live six hours away and won’t be driving down for this race again, but if I were within an hour or two of Mobile I’d absolutely do this race again. Worth it!

DIFFICULTY
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3

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Races are all so very standard these days. You get a shirt, some bling at the finish, aid stations, and chip timing. This course has all of that (including gel … MORE

Races are all so very standard these days. You get a shirt, some bling at the finish, aid stations, and chip timing. This course has all of that (including gel and bananas at most aid stations) but where it really stands apart is the food after-party. Pizza buffet, all the donuts you can eat, and drinks.

The course itself is the riverpark, which seems to be the default course for a lot of Chattanooga races. No complaints, it’s a pretty course. But this course starts at the Wheland Foundary, which is NOT where most of the riverpark races start. This is the first time I’ve run from this end of the park. There were plenty of bathrooms, plenty of parking spots, and an easy in/out race venue for drivers.

This is one course I’ll be doing again next year.

DIFFICULTY
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I've never been a race or event organizer. I'm sure it's a heck of an undertaking, especially a race like this where you have a few thousand runners across multiple … MORE

I’ve never been a race or event organizer. I’m sure it’s a heck of an undertaking, especially a race like this where you have a few thousand runners across multiple races of different distances. This race was superbly organized, any comment about this race must be prefaced by giving credit where credit is due.

Parking. There is ample parking all around the VBC, although it was either a $5 or $10 to park. More on that later. You should have no issue parking in one of the multiple lots that surround the venue.

The event location. The Von Braun Center is a great location for a race. There are multiple bathrooms, there is plenty of room to host thousands of runners as they wait for the race to start, and if the December weather is cold, it’s nice being indoors. The Back Half course is a point-to-point race and you have to shuttle to the start line. Park at the VBC since you’ll finish here. I did not have to wait at all for the shuttle up to Univ of AL at Huntsville (UAH) and once at UAH there is an indoor student union building, or something like that, where the 800 runners can wait, use the bathroom, sit and relax, or hang outside and stretch. Kudos to the organizers for both the use of VBC and UAH for start locations. Over the 55+ half marathons I’ve run, I’ve never seen one that has such runner friendly or indoor start lines. Even the finish line at this race is inside the VBC. At the finish the volunteers handed out the medals and an emergency blanket. Most winters that would be useful. In 2022 the weather was probably in the mid-50s at finish, so most probably didn’t need them, but many took them anyway.

The course. The course is decent (I did the Back Half Marathon) and it was rolling but a net downhill, and it’s a fast course. You run through the Paul Marshall Space Center and it is here that you see runners, including me, stop to take a few pictures. That was the highlight of the course. It didn’t run through any attractive downtown space, nor was it particularly scenic otherwise. And although rolling, it was basically a downhill course. Very fast course, actually.

The aid stations. There were more aid stations on this course than I’ve ever seen on a course. They had Powerade and water at all stations. They had Gu gel at most stations, and one station had chips and M&Ms.

The post-race food. This was great. I’d like to see something other than pizza, or pizza that is vegan friendly, but pizza was only one of the several options. They had chocolate milk (but no soy chocolate milk), soda, water, bagels, oranges, bananas, PBJ sandwiches, pizza, and a few other things. Top 5 for post race food in the races I’ve done. I’m sure offering a beer ticket would please many, although I’d like to see Athletic Brewing Company set up a non-alcoholic beer table. Overall, the food was great.

The bad? Not much, to be honest. The volunteers were super. The race organizer answered my facebook message about shuttle service (they sent an email, but apparently some runners never received it) within a few hours, and there was just so much to like. The one complaint I have is cost. I get that races are expensive. I know it takes a lot to put on a good race, but the race registration was $95, which is on the high end for races in this region. Then runners had to pay an additional $20 to do race-day packet pickup. Then it was $10 to park. I can deal with the parking and the race fee, but same-day packet pickup is a money grab, imo. For that reason it’s unlikely that I’ll do this race again. But if you don’t mind the extra $20 then you should absolutely do this race. It’s not a bucket list race, but if you live in within a couple of hours drive, it’s worth the drive.

DIFFICULTY
2
PRODUCTION
3
SCENERY
3
SWAG
4
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This is a fun race, for me anyway. Helen is a little obnoxious and I wish the town were a little less filled with tourists like me. Traffic is bad … MORE

This is a fun race, for me anyway. Helen is a little obnoxious and I wish the town were a little less filled with tourists like me. Traffic is bad and you always have to wait in line for a place to eat. But the race is held on the first weekend Helen has Christmas lights, so that’s to be expected.

The race course is always different, and always enjoyable. The climb up to Anna Ruby Falls is brutal, but SO totally worth it. I don’t know how any runner can reach the top and not stop and take pictures of the falls. It really is just stunning. Part of the run is around a lake and ine year they had an electric guitarist – Metallica style – jamming solo on the sandy beach. Another year they had a bagpiper playing on the dock of the lack. You run right by them. This year there was no surprise on the lake. They also didn’t have the post-race beer, if that’s something you’ve enjoyed in the past.

This is a fun race and it’s intended to be low competition and Sean wants everyone to enjoy themselves. It would be nice if there were more than one aid station but there are a couple of places where you pass state park bathrooms and you can pop into one of those and refill your water bottle in the sink, if needed.

The weather for this race seems to always be bad. I think I’ve run this race five times now and the first year the weather was just damn cold. Maybe in the mid-20s at start, and finish. The other years it’s either been raining and a little warmer, or not raining but cold. This year it was in high 40s and misty, drizzly, but no rain.

The course is always challenging, even though it changes every year. One thing that would be nice is if the course would go through a bit more of downtown Helen so the locals could get a sense of the race and encourage them to come out and support. Or not… it is a bit early. In previous years the course did skirt the side of Helen downtown, but this year it did not.

In any case, Sean always puts on a great race here. I’ll be back again next year. That will be my sixth red beanie hat. I guess I need to start gifting these to family at this point!

DIFFICULTY
4
PRODUCTION
4
SCENERY
5
SWAG
3
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So I registered for this course because of the Christmas-y website and description. I'd have Christmas cookies at the aid stations and everyone would be dressed like Santa, or so … MORE

So I registered for this course because of the Christmas-y website and description. I’d have Christmas cookies at the aid stations and everyone would be dressed like Santa, or so I thought. The course was decent and was along a greenway the entire time, which was nice. I think this course would be nice for a spring or fall race since it is tree-lined much of the time. It was a bit more out-and-back, and then out-and-back again than I’d have preferred. Sort of like a Y-shaped course, where you start at the bottom of the Y, then run the left side of the Y, then back to the down, and then up the right side of the Y, then down again, and then back up the left side of the Y again, then finally back to the the bottom of the Y. A minor complaint, tbh. It seems the course is this way because they simply ran out of greenway at the top end of the Y segments.

The volunteers and race organizers were also friendly and helpful, which has always been my experience at the races I’ve done. When it’s 30 degrees outside and you stand there behind a table for two or three hours to hand out water or gel, you deserve a “thanks” from the runners.

The Santa hat and tech sweatshirt were also fun. Loved seeing everyone wearing the red shirt and Santa hat.

But… I would not run this race again. This is a Christmas race and is advertised as having Christmas cookies. But there were not actually any Christmas cookies. There were multiple aid stations, but only the first two had anything sweet to eat. The first station had packaged cookies. Oreos, Famous Amos, that sort of thing. The second station had M&Ms, Snickers, and other similar candy. Maybe bring in Little Debbie holiday cakes? They are more moist and I won’t choke on the crumbs. All other aid stations had only water, or water and sports drink, and I think a few had gel. My beef is, if you advertise Christmas cookies, then perhaps put actual Christmas cookies at the aid stations. The finish line food was water and more of the packaged cookies. There were bananas and trail mix as well, but no hot chocolate, or candy canes? Hey, it might be a minor thing, but these days with so many half marathons if you want to stand out as a race better than the rest, then do what it takes to stand out. And also, advertise the race accurately. I think this race has a lot of potential, and it already has a good course and great volunteers, but it does need to up its game a bit so that the actual race matches the advertising. Or keep the same race and change the way it’s advertised.

Parking was ample, and easy, and very close to the start line. There were port-a-poddies at the start line, and packet pickup was easy. This was a small race… maybe only 300 people running all distances? Anyway, there is lots to like here, but in future years please bring out the cookies and hot chocolate, or cider, or coffee, or candy canes! 🙂

DIFFICULTY
3
PRODUCTION
3
SCENERY
2
SWAG
4
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I live in Chattanooga and initially registered for this race because it was the closest thing to a Thanksgiving Day half marathon I could run without traveling far. 2022 was … MORE

I live in Chattanooga and initially registered for this race because it was the closest thing to a Thanksgiving Day half marathon I could run without traveling far. 2022 was my second year doing this race and I enjoy this course. A lot of Chattanooga races build the riverfront park into the course, and for good reason. It’s pretty, it’s wide, and it’s car free. The aid stations were standard, the parking was plenty, and the race has everything a race should have these days. I loved the donuts at the end of the race, although it would have been nice if they’d had something hot to drink at the end as well. It is, after all, a late November race and the temps are on the cool side.

I’ll be running this one again next year. It’s really a hidden gem. There aren’t a lot of people who run it – maybe 350? – and so it’s a hassle free experience. But the race production itself is what you see at races with two or three times that number of runners. It’s not a travel-across-the-country race, but it’s certainly worthy of an hour or two drive if you are local’ish.

DIFFICULTY
2
PRODUCTION
4
SCENERY
4
SWAG
4

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I've run more than 50 half marathons and I don't often give a negative review. But this is perhaps the worst race I have run, and it is solely because … MORE

I’ve run more than 50 half marathons and I don’t often give a negative review. But this is perhaps the worst race I have run, and it is solely because of a) the course, and b) how the race is marketed on their website. From the website:

“The half marathon route starts at the scenic Melton Lake Park peninsula. Considered a great PR course! Course runs along the beautiful Melton Lake then down by an operational quarry for a change of scenery. Continue along a serene tree-lined private road then wind through Oak Ridge. Finish your race along the water’s edge right back to the peninsula.”

I registered for this race after reading this description. I knew I wouldn’t PR because I’m not in PR running condition at the moment, but was looking forward to at least an easy and scenic course, and it was only 90 minutes drive from where I live, so not a terrible drive.

It wasn’t fast. It’s a slow course. The only people who will PR on this course are those whose first race is this race. There is no way people are getting a PR here. Here is some context: Of my 30 half marathons this year, 10 of them have been sub-two hour times. My best time this year was 1:50. My worst time this year was on a trail and I finished at 2:40. Across 30 races I have averaged 2:08, and that includes a handful of slow trail races. My time for the Secret City race was 2:09. Not a PR course. Nineteen minutes slower than my PR from earlier this year. It’s got a couple of lengthy hills, one of which is about three-quarters of a mile.

It’s not scenic. Like… except for the first two miles and the last half mile. The course itself was promising for the first couple of miles, but then turned onto a separated four lane highway, and it continued on busy roads until maybe the last half mile to mile. While the police presence was pretty good in most places, the orange cones keeping the speeding cars from hitting the runners were spaced at probably a quarter mile apart in some places. At one point on the four lane highway I crossed an exit ramp and there was no cone and no police to slow or stop traffic. The runners just had to turn around and make sure no speeding cars were going to run us down while taking the exit ramp.

I would absolutely not recommend running this race. If the entire course could be like the first few miles and the last half mile it would be great. But as is it is both unsafe and not a fast course. It is not an enjoyable course. Unless you are local and just absolutely must get a race out of the way, then look elsewhere.

The race organization itself, at the start/finish, was fine. Easy packet pickup, port-a-potties, water and snacks at the finish line, pint glasses with the swag (if you pay extra), and all the standard things. It was the course that was the problem, the rest of the race production was up to snuff.

DIFFICULTY
2
PRODUCTION
3
SCENERY
1
SWAG
3

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Despite having lived in the area for years, and running on the Chickamauga Battlefield a couple of times a week most months of the year, I've never run this race. … MORE

Despite having lived in the area for years, and running on the Chickamauga Battlefield a couple of times a week most months of the year, I’ve never run this race. But I finally ran it this year. The race production is good, the post-race food is great, and the course is even better. Such a pretty race and put together production. I’ll be back next year.

DIFFICULTY
2
PRODUCTION
5
SCENERY
4
SWAG
4

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I love the races this race company puts on. They are local, or at least have a lot of local races. But the races are also low production and very … MORE

I love the races this race company puts on. They are local, or at least have a lot of local races. But the races are also low production and very small. This was a race weekend and all meals from Friday evening through Sunday morning were included in the race fee.

The course was pretty but the leaves on the ground made it hard to see the roots and rocks and I tripped and fell hard three times. Not the fault of the race organizers, just be aware of the hazards of this fall trail race.

I’m local to Chattanooga so it’s only a 20 minute drive for me to the race. If I lived more than an hour away I probably wouldn’t drive to this race. But it’s def a great race for locals who want a relaxed race. Oh, and the single aid station – which you pass with each loop – is probably the best aid station you’ve ever seen at a race.

DIFFICULTY
3
PRODUCTION
3
SCENERY
3
SWAG
3

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