My Profile

@kmerskine

Chattanooga, TN Raving since 2021 50 States hopeful/finisher, Half Fanatics From Fourth Island active 4 weeks ago

About Me

  • Running club(s):
  • Rave race:

    Greenville Half and the Chattanooga Half

  • Race that's calling my name:

    Covered Bridges Half

  • 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 (12)

Race Distance Location Date Result
Beast Chandlersville, OH May 7, 2016 4:38:20
Sprint Canandaigua, NY Sep 18, 2005 1:29:11
Half Marathon Greenville, SC Feb 27, 2021 1:56:26
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 East Ridge, TN Nov 26, 2020 46:06
5K Chattanooga, TN Oct 30, 2016 37:20

Future Races (5)

Race Distance Location Date Paid
Half Marathon Saint Augustine, FL Nov 14, 2021
Half Marathon Mobile, AL Jan 9, 2022
Half Marathon New Orleans, LA Feb 6, 2022
Half Marathon South Pomfret, VT Jun 5, 2022
Half Marathon Greenville, MS 2022

Past Races (53)

Race Distance Location Date Result My Raves My Performance
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 Geneva, NY 2004 1:30:32
Sprint Canandaigua, NY 2004 1:32:22
Sprint Crandall, GA 1990
Sprint Crandall, GA 1989

My Raves

So I would probably give this race 3.5 stars in any category I had to choose here between 3 and 4. I loved this race, and in 25+ half marathons … MORE

So I would probably give this race 3.5 stars in any category I had to choose here between 3 and 4. I loved this race, and in 25+ half marathons I had my second best time, only the second time I clocked in below the 2 hour mark. But, there are some things that really could be improved on. It’s a big, big race, I get that, and I’m sure there are some limitations due to the size of the race. Still…

Organizer communication is good, and the packet pick-up was fine. Packet pick-up venue was not close to anything connected to the race, which was fine but was also different than I had done for a race before. There was an athlete guide in PDF that outlined everything you’d need to know as a runner, especially a first time runner. This was appreciated. But why does it need to be a PDF in this age of web? Put everything on a webpage. I only say this because I didn’t actually see the PDF guide until the week before the race, but kept looking for info on the actual race webpage. Not a huge deal though.

One note. The athlete guide gives recommendations from Millennium Station (if you choose to take the train to Jackson Park), but when I did try to find this station later that afternoon when we were headed to Wrigley Field (because google maps seemed to think I could catch a train from there), it took us about 30 minutes to find it. There are quite literally no signs outside the station. And once you do find it, after asking multiple people, you’ll still be unsure where to go within the station because even the underground station isn’t clearly marked. Really weird! All other stations we rode on the CTA were well marked and easy to find. Not sure what’s up with this one. I’d recommend NOT taking the train to the race. Take the shuttle or drive.

The shuttles to the race left at 4:45 according to one official race source, with no indication of when they would stop, or if they were only leaving at 4:45am. According to another source, they would run until 5:15. According to yet another official source they’d run until 5:30. I took a chance and caught one at about 5:15 and there were still a line of busses, so clearly they were not going to stop running shuttles before 5:30. This would have been great to know because once you arrive at Jackson Park you end up standing around in the 56 degree temp, huddled around the exhaust fan from engine on the portable lights. If you plan to run this race DO take some warm clothes to wait around in. Or just take a later shuttle. There was a free bag drop, so that was a nice feature, one that I don’t see at too many races.

The start was right at sunrise, more or less, and was really quite pretty. Blue sky, the lake was nearby, and because you are standing in the corrals for about ten minutes with thousands of other people the temp seemed to increase significantly. Despite running on Lakeshore Dr., you don’t get great views of the lake except for a few miles. But you are running on a wide road, good surface, and generally the course condition is very good. No real incline / decline on the course to speak of, except for going up / down a few bridges. One thing that I did like was that they grouped runners by their estimated times. Lots of bigger races do this but I’m pretty sure most people put the times they hope to get, not the time that they got in their last race or in their training; you end up passing people that should not be in the front of the pack. With this race – despite passing and getting passed – it seemed that people were grouped better somehow and so you didn’t get things clogged up with 14 minute milers holding up the 7 minute milers.

There are aid stations. More than I needed. I think there were about 10. All stations had portable toilets as well. This is a nice feature for a race, particularly since the city of Chicago probably doesn’t want 7,000 people looking for a toilet on Lakeshore. And there aren’t any trees either.

Post race was very meh. The concert was fine, the festival itself was fine, but the post-race food was not good. At . All. The drinks exiting the finish line corral was fine (bananas, water, Gatorade, and a protein drink), but I saw picture advertisements in official race media of Chicago style hot dogs and really sweet looking pizza in the post-race festival. No such thing. No hot dogs at all. The pizza was thin crust and genuinely looked like it was three days old. It was a single slice in a box. I took one bite and tossed the rest in the garbage and saw others doing the same. I’m not much of a drinker but saw that the post-race beer they were offering was a mass produced big label brand. All other races I’ve seen that have had this have offered some small label craft brew. And it would be great to see an NA brew at a race this size as well. (Athletic Brewing Company would be great, if the organizers read race reviews here). So the post race food really needs to step up it’s game. For a race that I’d give a B+ to up to the finish line, I’d drop that grade by almost a full letter due solely to the disparity between the marketing and the reality of the post-race food. I just burned 1,500 calories, dammit, I want some yummy food! 🙂

Final note, according to my Garmin Fenix 5 the course was 13.25 miles. When I got on the shuttle back and asked other runners what their distances were, they all nodded in agreement, that it was a little longer than 13.1. That doesn’t bother me at all, but for many race purists it’s a deal breaker, and in a race as big as this one you’d think it would be exactly correct. But perhaps it is actually correct. Perhaps we clocked more than 13.1 due to zig-zagging on the course, weaving in and out of the thousands of other runners. In any case, if you are a purist, you will want to confirm the distance prior to committing to this race.

Would I do this race again? Absolutely, even with the nasty post-race food. There is so much to like about this race, not least of which is that you can spend the weekend in Chicago. No race can be perfect, but all things considered, the organizers put on a great event.

DIFFICULTY
1
PRODUCTION
4
SCENERY
4
SWAG
3

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The pros: This course is in a beautiful state park and the course is great. It is paved the entire way and parts are on a bike trail, other parts … MORE

The pros: This course is in a beautiful state park and the course is great. It is paved the entire way and parts are on a bike trail, other parts are on the road. You are on a lake part of the way, and it’s two loops for the half marathon. The aid stations were also spaced at about every mile or just over a mile, and there were five or six of them, so for the two loops you end up with an aid station every mile or so, for the full race. All of them had water and sports drink and a few of them had energy gels. I also appreciated that this was not a large race. The limit is 500 and I don’t think there were 400 runners across all race categories (5k, 10k, and half), which was nice. Nice run, honestly, and I would recommend this for those who are local’ish.

The course is hilly but not badly so. I normally run between 9:30 and 10:00 minute mile half marathons but for this one I ran 11:29 a mile. So you’ll run more slowly, but you’ll also enjoy the course.

The cons: There are several and for the die hard half marathoner this will NOT be a race you’ll want to do. First off, it’s not 13.1 miles. My Garmin said 12.44. My son’s Garmin said 12.92. And a lady in front of me turned around – just about 1/10 of a mile before the finish line – and ran back past me going the other direction, and then turned around again after I passed by her and ran to the finish with me. I asked her why she had turned around. She said her Garmin wasn’t reading that she’d run 13.1. She wanted the extra 2/10ths of a mile that her Garmin said she needed. This wasn’t a big deal for me, but for many it would be a dealbreaker.

I don’t organize races and I know it takes a lot of work. And a BIG thanks to all the volunteers and Boy / Girl Scouts that came out to volunteer. Loved seeing those kids out there. But there are a few things the organizers could do better to make it go more smoothly on race day. First of all, the address provided on the website is NOT EVEN INSIDE THE PARK. It was about a quarter mile outside the park gates. On the race website the organizers do provide the name of the place inside the park you should go, but when I looked that up and plugged it into Google Maps, nothing came up, nor did it come up on the Park’s own info site, not that I could find anyway. I wasn’t the only one, I had a line of cars following me as I turned around and wandered through various parking lots and roads to find the race. This is easy to fix.

Once I finally found the race, I had a hard time finding an empty parking space. It would be great to have a volunteer or two put an orange cone in full sections of the labyrinth of parking lots / roads that wind through the starting area. This could be remedied, and would help smooth the morning parking rush.

Next, I waited 15 minutes to pick up my packet and there were only about 10 people in front of me getting their race packets. It wasn’t because they had trouble with only one slow person, it was because the system was just clumsy and slow. Also easy to fix. Do it like other races do it. Have more people checking racers in, or just have envelopes instead of looking it up on a computer, or something. Never seen this go so slow at another race. I had to run my stuff back to my car and by the time I got back to the start line it was 10 minutes past the official start time. As a credit to the organizers they seem to have realized things were going a bit slow and they delayed their start time by about 15 minutes. I was grateful for that.

On the course I don’t recall seeing any port-a-poddies, although I could have missed them. The start / finish line also didn’t have any port-a-poddies, but they did have park bathrooms that were small and would be the equivalent of two portable bathrooms. Anyone who has waited in line for the porta at a race can tell you that two portables isn’t enough for most races. There wasn’t a line though, remarkably, which I attribute to the small size of the race. They may want to consider bringing a few in if they get many more racers in future years.

Lastly, it would be great if post-race snacks included chocolate milk or something with a better balance of carbs and protein. While I’m happy to fill up on Coke and Doritos, those don’t provide me with a healthy replenishment. This is also a simple fix. They did have bananas and granola bars as well, but only water and Coke to drink.

These cons might make you put you off of this race, but unless you are a die hard half marathoner who MUST have 13.1 miles, or unless you are traveling far and expecting the best race ever, then you should consider doing this race. I would do this race again and the nice course and Scout volunteers outweighed the shortfalls at registration, routing, and parking.

DIFFICULTY
3
PRODUCTION
1
SCENERY
4
SWAG
2

1 member marked this review helpful. Agree?

This is a very pretty and historic course. The entire course is along the C&O Canal towpath, and appears to be a National Park with old locks and canal quarter … MORE

This is a very pretty and historic course. The entire course is along the C&O Canal towpath, and appears to be a National Park with old locks and canal quarter lockhouses along the way. It’s a great course to run and as a professional historian I loved the whole concept of spending two hours running next to this kind of history. And the race director was great at communicating, which is always a plus.

Another plus were the aid stations. Sometimes aid stations seem to be set up by people who don’t run. No garbage cans 100 yards past the water table, full bottles of gatorade and water (instead of small cups), 75% of which get wasted… but this race had coolers, small cups, and trash cans just beyond each station. I’d probably want them to offer Gatorade at ALL water stops instead of maybe only two of them, especially in this heat. There was no gel, snacks, or fruit at the aid stations, just liquid.

There are a few things I’d change about this race in an ideal world. And I’m sure the race director has considered all of these angles already, and these aren’t enough to deter a person from doing this race. The race could have started an hour earlier. It was an 8am start and by that time the heat and humidity are already on the rise. By 10:30 when I finished it was in the low to mid-80s and humid. I’m a slow runner and normally finish half marathons anywhere from 1:56 to 2:17. This one yielded the worst time I’ve had in a few years, at 2:28.

This is an open course and the towpath trail is well-used. I passed at least as many runners on the course who were just out for a Sunday run as I passed fellow racers. Lots of bikers and walkers on the path as well. Ideally this would be a closed course, but that may not even be an option.

It would be great if the start line could begin in the parking lot, or in the field next to the parking lot, and then run to the towpath. That would make for about two or three minutes of running OFF / to / from the towpath at the beginning and end, but it would also allow for a more festive post-race setup that might attract a few more vendors, or allow for a better tent setup.

This is a small race and race production is well-organized but it is low budget. I’d be happy if they dispensed with the small medal (with no ribbon) and saved the expense and waste. And maybe have chocolate milk at the finish line, and pure Gatorade instead of watered down Gatorade (which is fine when running, but after the race you want something stronger).

Overall, I’d recommend this race. But know you are going to a low-budget race and you should go for the beautiful course and not for the swag or post-race food and festivities. And for sure, take your own fuel.

DIFFICULTY
1
PRODUCTION
3
SCENERY
5
SWAG
2

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This is an average race. That isn't a criticism. Most races these days check all the boxes: nice course, good support on the course, chip timing, post race snacks, etc. … MORE

This is an average race. That isn’t a criticism. Most races these days check all the boxes: nice course, good support on the course, chip timing, post race snacks, etc. This race checked those boxes, with a few things better than average and a few worse than average.

First, the course was great. You can’t see beyond the trees on the path for part of the race, but it’s a nice surface and you do have river views for part of the run. It’s almost completely flat, so if you are looking for a soft surface flat course, this is your race… I’ve not raced too many (any?) non-paved trails that are this flat.

The aid stations were great. They had sports drink, water, and a few stations had gel. A few may have also had cut oranges. But the liquid was all in bottles which may have been a Covid-related thing. But it’s wasteful because runners don’t usually need more than a few ounces of liquid at each stop. Who drinks a 10 or 12 oz bottle of Gatorade or water? Wasteful, but again, it was likely Covid related. The post race food and drinks could have been a bit more robust. No chocolate milk? That’s becoming a fairly standard thing to see at races, and rightly so since it is widely considered nearly the perfect immediate post-race drink.

Parking was good and there were porta-potties at the start. This is a small race and I don’t think they’d be able to get much bigger due to parking limitations. But the nearby town of Covington is a cute town, worth walking around in, but as cute as it is, it isn’t real tourist friendly. I think I saw maybe only one or two places to eat on the main street, and one of them was closed. The other was a hot dog and ice cream joint, which isn’t exactly what races are looking for pre-race. Still, I loved this little town and the race. I probably won’t do it again, but only because it was a 6 hour drive for me to get to Covington from my home. If I lived only an hour away I’d do this one again.

DIFFICULTY
1
PRODUCTION
3
SCENERY
4
SWAG
3

1 member marked this review helpful. Agree?

This is a nice course. It's an out and back course and the first (and last) two or three miles are very pretty, along the river. And flat. But the … MORE

This is a nice course. It’s an out and back course and the first (and last) two or three miles are very pretty, along the river. And flat. But the middle miles are on roads that are not good. I’d almost rather run on packed gravel than some of these roads. Found myself swerving here and there to stay on un-cracked, un-pot-holed asphalt. They need new roads… not for the runners, but gosh, for the drivers!

But I’d still have run this race. Lots of aid stations, friendly spectators, lots of police at the road crossings, and a nice long-sleeve shirt. I had originally intended to run the Mini-Indy, and would like to go back for that bucket list race. I probably wouldn’t have run this Checkers race if I hadn’t already scheduled other things around that weekend, planning to run the Mini Indy race, but that one was canceled. I think the size of the Mini Indy would make traffic heavier. This Chase the Checkers race is a small race, which made it nice. I stayed with family just out of town so had to drive in. But coming in I didn’t notice any hotels within easy walking distance of the start line. There may be, but I didn’t see them.

Parking was easy, the aid stations were great, post race snacks were abundant. It’s a good race. I’ve run probably 25+ half marathons and this one is probably in the top half of the pack for overall recommendations, all things considered.

One thing I would recommend to the race admin is making info on the website easier to find. It seems that race websites are sometimes a bit cloudy on details and I wonder if the people making the website are actually runners. Some of the info I was looking for was actually on the website but I had to email the race directors to find it.

DIFFICULTY
1
PRODUCTION
3
SCENERY
3
SWAG
3

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This race is advertised as being on the battlefield. It is, but it isn't. You will not run by the better known Gettysburg battle sites, such as the High Water … MORE

This race is advertised as being on the battlefield. It is, but it isn’t. You will not run by the better known Gettysburg battle sites, such as the High Water Mark, Little Round Top, or anything to do with Pickett’s Charge. It is a pretty course and I don’t think the mis-advertise the battlefield aspect, but runners should know that if you want to see that other stuff you’ll need to get in your car and drive to it. Would have been nice to have actually included some running through downtown G’burg, as well as some of the better known sites. But still, this was a nice race. No real complaints on the course. On the flip side, the start / finish location was right in a hotel parking lot so if you stay in that hotel you just walk out the front door to race. That was nice.

The post-race party didn’t ever seem to materialize, which might have been expected due to Covid, but the website advertised things that I didn’t see at the end of the race. No biggie, and I did get my pint glass, which was a nice touch.

The website could have been a bit more clear with regards to putting needed info all in one place. There was no race day packet pick up info, or if there was it was not easily findable.

Overall, no race is without a flaw here and there and having run 25+ half marathons and 25+ other types of races, this was a good race. Pretty course, well organized, and plenty of aid stations. Having enough aid stations is always a nice touch, and a touch that many races don’t have, unfortunately. I would recommend this race. Easily in the top third of all the races I’ve done, all things considered.

DIFFICULTY
3
PRODUCTION
4
SCENERY
3
SWAG
4

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This is a great race, in just about every regard. If this isn't your PR race then you aren't trying hard. It's up and down for the first few miles … MORE

This is a great race, in just about every regard. If this isn’t your PR race then you aren’t trying hard. It’s up and down for the first few miles and then the rest of the race is downhill. And not like falling-down-the-mountain downhill. It is almost imperceptible, which is the best downhill you can have when running. The course is on a paved greenway and you have only a few road crossings. It’s pretty, but it’s not running by waterfalls, cliff edges, or spectacular views. But no complaints, really. It is a nice course. There are also amply stocked aid stations every few miles which is always a plus. For context, I finished 508 out of 1,052. Pretty average.

The organization of the race was also great. Timely emails, easy start and finish, and the race starts (point to point) downtown, so if you want to stay at a hotel near the start line, you can. But you’ll need a ride up to Traveller’s Rest, where it starts. And Greenville is such a cute town! I grew up only an hour away and don’t remember Greenville being such a nice town, but it’s definitely worth a weekend trip. If you do this race, I would highly recommend staying at a hotel in downtown Greenville and exploring the town. And the spouse can drop you at the start line, then go back, sleep a bit longer or eat breakfast, and then wander down to the finish line to watch you finish.

And the post-race party at the end, despite Covid, was great. This was my first time in this race – 2021 – and I think the norm is to have a more lively post-race party. And at the finish line you are in the Falls Park area of the city. Lots of bridges and benches to walk and sit on, and nearby cafes to eat at… if you are still hungry after eating the post-race meal.

In 25+ half marathons and 25+ other races, this is easily in my top 5 races, all things considered. Highly recommend.

DIFFICULTY
1
PRODUCTION
5
SCENERY
3
SWAG
5

2 members marked this review helpful. Agree?

This race was okay. Not bad, not great, just average for races... and these days average means a well-organized race with a tee-shirt, or some other swag. We got a … MORE

This race was okay. Not bad, not great, just average for races… and these days average means a well-organized race with a tee-shirt, or some other swag. We got a long-sleeve shirt, which is a plus, but also got a coffee cup, which I love because so few races do anything other than a shirt and metal.

The downside of this race was that the course wasn’t particularly creative or scenic. It was a below average course and I wouldn’t do this race again unless there was nothing else that looked decent for this racing month. I’m not discouraging runners from doing the run, I’m glad I did it, but I wouldn’t do it again.

Dawsonville is a cute little town and it’s a scenic area, which makes the course even more disappointing, given all the beauty around it. Parking was easy, and this was one of the few races taking place during the Covid racing season, and for that I’m grateful. Was nice to be out with runners again. And, to be fair, this was a VERY small race. Only 36 runners in the 10k field. Not sure about the 5k field, but there were way more people running than 36.

I don’t remember water stops. They may have had one, but probably only one since there was some looping in the course. But I don’t even remember for sure if there was one.

With all of that said, I didn’t reach my target time, but this was still a PR for me in the 10k category, so I can’t complain about that!

DIFFICULTY
2
PRODUCTION
3
SCENERY
2
SWAG
4

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Sean "run bum's" races should be on your bucket list. This race is great. It's cold, but there is a great pre-race party the night before, and they offer a … MORE

Sean “run bum’s” races should be on your bucket list. This race is great. It’s cold, but there is a great pre-race party the night before, and they offer a pint glass and free beer at the end of the race. The course seems to be modified a bit each year. One year it went by Angel Falls in the park, and other years you run by quiet wooded ponds. He seems to always have a surprise on the course as well. Once it was an electric heavy metal guitarist standing on the beach playing as you ran by on the sand. Another year it was a bagpiper playing on the dock of the pond. Always a great race, and Sean’s enthusiasm is part of what makes his races so great.

For those purists who want their half marathon’s to be exactly 13.1 miles, this isn’t your race. Sean’s races almost always fall short of 13.1 by up to a mile. He’s pretty upfront about that, and unapologetic. And all the runners seem to enjoy the race anyway.

DIFFICULTY
3
PRODUCTION
5
SCENERY
5
SWAG
5

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This race likes to advertise the high percentage of PRs people get in this race. I was out of running shape when I did this race and did not get … MORE

This race likes to advertise the high percentage of PRs people get in this race. I was out of running shape when I did this race and did not get a PR. The first four miles or so are up and down (out and back), and then you head down the mountain and never look back. It is a point to point race and unless you have a ride to drop you at the top of the mountain you’ll ride the bus to the top. It’s a small race – maybe 200+ half marathoners? – and so bussing everyone up wasn’t bad at all. They bussed us from the finish line and there were plenty of busses taking us up there. This was easy, well organized, and parking was less than a 20 second walk to where I got on the bus, and there was plenty of parking in the small town where we the finish line was set up.

I raced in 2020, when Covid precautions were still mostly in place, and it was one of the first races in the area to be held as things started to relax a bit. Everyone wore masks on the bus and at the start line until we started running.

Once the race started masks came off. The downhill part of the course was probably a little steep for my tastes. Running downhill seems attractive but a) if it is too steep you end up spending more energy trying not to fall down the mountain, and b) your legs are killing you the next day! That’s not a complaint, I loved the course, but it is a warning. I’ve run lots and lots of races but this was my first race that was primarily downhill and I thought it would be easy. My quads were killing me the next day and I thought I was just in terrible shape, but the race director sent out an email to the races a few days later and said, “now you know the price for running downhill races,” or something like that. I felt a little better.

I’d do this race again, but I’d probably do a bit more downhill training before the race. I didn’t get a PR despite the downhill course. If you are really looking for a PR, look for a course that is almost imperceptibly downhill. The Greenville Half Marathon in SC is a great PR course.

I think this race normally has a pretty good post-race party but due to Covid they had nothing. I never hang out too long after a race anyway, but it is nice to sit in the grass and rehydrate and eat some snacks while everyone else wanders around. Due to Covid this wasn’t really permitted after this race, understandably.

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1
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4
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This course doesn't get enough PR. This is maybe one of the most beautiful courses that aren't in a national park, along the beach, or on top of a mountain. … MORE

This course doesn’t get enough PR. This is maybe one of the most beautiful courses that aren’t in a national park, along the beach, or on top of a mountain. This is a far better course than Run the Bluegrass, which is listed as a bucket list or must-do list race on many websites.

The parking for this race is fine, plenty of space, but you do have to walk a couple of minutes to the start line. You run through the college campus at the finish and it’s a beautiful campus.

Race day packet pickup was easy, indoors, and quick. There isn’t much in the way of swag that is better or worse than any other race, but there are INDOOR bathrooms and a warm place to wait indoors while you wait for the race to start. It’s a lobby of a student center or something, but plenty of space.

The course itself is not terribly difficult but it isn’t the easiest course either. It’s got a few hills, is on gravel and paved, but I noticed these less given the beauty of the course.

There are aid stations on the course, AND porta poddies, which isn’t as common if you aren’t at the start/finish line. I’ve done this course twice and the second time the course and organization were FAR better than the first time. It wasn’t bad the first time, but it was extraordinary the second time around, a few years later, in March 2020 just a few days before the Covid shutdown.

DIFFICULTY
3
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4
SCENERY
5
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3

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I love this race. Chattanooga does races so well and it's such a pretty town for racing (Ironman, anyone?). It feels like a big city race in the start finish … MORE

I love this race. Chattanooga does races so well and it’s such a pretty town for racing (Ironman, anyone?). It feels like a big city race in the start finish area, and along the parks and downtown areas. But once you get out of the immediate downtown, there is some pretty course and some not so pretty course. The course is so-so, as I imagine most downtown courses are. But it’s not a bad course at all, just not super great scenery.

The race festival area and post race stuff are all great. You finish downtown and can walk to cafes, coffee shops, great places to eat, or you can plop down in the grass by the river, where the finish line is. There are aid stations and they were stocked well, and the packet pickup is also smooth on race day.

There are hotels within easy walking distance from the hotel and unless you are on a shoestring budget I’d recommend staying downtown. There is a lot of parking along the river but these parking lots are linear and so you may need to walk a couple of minutes to the start line. And Chattanooga has plenty of parking spaces, but again, you may need to walk a couple of minutes.

I give this race four starts because it’s great, but not A+… meaning, it would be perfect if you were, say, running on the rim of the Grand Canyon? Everyplace can’t have that, and this is about as great a race as you are going to find for small town urban races. I can’t think of anything I’d change about this race, except perhaps move the few miles of busy road running to something a bit more quiet. But that’s a minor complaint.

DIFFICULTY
3
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5
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3
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4

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This is a great race. One of my favorites. The course is beautiful, the organization is great, the parking is easy, the post-race food and festival are the best I've … MORE

This is a great race. One of my favorites. The course is beautiful, the organization is great, the parking is easy, the post-race food and festival are the best I’ve seen in 50+ races, and there is just so much good about this race and almost nothing bad.

For starters, this is a medium size race that is growing larger each year, it seems. But because it takes over an outlet mall (is it an outlet mall? Not sure, but it feels like one), races have all the large parking lots to park in, so easy parking is always nice. Although it is in a shopping area the race begins before things open and this Bridge Street Town Centre does NOT feel like your typical outlet mall area. It is very quaint, with cobblestone streets and waterways and cute bridges and park benches. It’s quite nice, actually. And the post-race festival takes place in this area. This post-race festival is second to none. All you can eat food, drink, I mean… this is venders coming out, offering up their food, for free. And, on top of that, you have the standard packaged snacks as well. For the post-race alone this race is worth running.

But even if the race didn’t have a good post-race, the course alone makes the race worth running. It’s a great course, one of my favorite. You start in the shopping area but pretty quickly you are out in the countryside, running along hills and hollows, past old churches and farms. Quite a scenic route. There are some hills but I’d probably not call this a particularly hilly course. It’s a quick’ish course but probably not PR quick. You’ll definitely enjoy it though.

Highly recommend this race. Don’t put it on your life’s bucket list or anything, but it’s worth traveling a few hours to run. Easy parking, great course, great post-race… this is in my top 3 favorite races. I really can’t think of anything that would make this a better race… except perhaps transport the post-race party and easy parking to one of the National Park races, or to a flat beach race.

DIFFICULTY
2
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5
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4
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5

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I'd read a lot about this race needing to be on any half marathon bucket list. Scratch that. It's a good race, but not that good. I've run several others … MORE

I’d read a lot about this race needing to be on any half marathon bucket list. Scratch that. It’s a good race, but not that good. I’ve run several others that are as good or better. It’s still a good race, go do it… but don’t be disappointed when the scenery fails to impress like the Northern Lights.

Parking is easy, pre-race festival / expo is nice, course is pretty. In the 50+ races that I’ve done this is in the top 10, but not the top 5. Would I do it again? No. Am I glad I checked the box on this race? Yes.

I don’t think this is a PR course, if that’s what you are looking for. There aren’t hotels on site so you’ll have to drive in. There were ample aid stations.

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Sean "run bum's" races should be on your bucket list. This race is great. It's cold, but there is a great pre-race party the night before, and they offer a … MORE

Sean “run bum’s” races should be on your bucket list. This race is great. It’s cold, but there is a great pre-race party the night before, and they offer a pint glass and free beer at the end of the race. The course seems to be modified a bit each year. One year it went by Angel Falls in the park, and other years you run by quiet wooded ponds. He seems to always have a surprise on the course as well. Once it was an electric heavy metal guitarist standing on the beach playing as you ran by on the sand. Another year it was a bagpiper playing on the dock of the pond. Always a great race, and Sean’s enthusiasm is part of what makes his races so great.

For those purists who want their half marathon’s to be exactly 13.1 miles, this isn’t your race. Sean’s races almost always fall short of 13.1 by up to a mile. He’s pretty upfront about that, and unapologetic. And all the runners seem to enjoy the race anyway.

DIFFICULTY
3
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5
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5
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5

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This was a great race and it's too bad they stopped holding this event. It does look like it may return in 2021 though. If it does, do this race. … MORE

This was a great race and it’s too bad they stopped holding this event. It does look like it may return in 2021 though. If it does, do this race. This is the one of the prettiest courses I’ve ever run. Through country roads, it’s quiet, and just a great race. It is a hilly race though, so practice your hill running.

The single thing I would suggest that is changed in this race is the distance. My Garmin Fenix recorded a distance of 13.79 miles. I tend to believe this is correct. My normal times for half marathon courses like this one would be somewhere between 2:07 and 2:10. The Bridge Street Half Marathon in Huntsville is about my closest comparison in terms of course difficulty, and my 2017 and 2018 times on that course were 2:09, and 2:07, respectively. My Hills and Hollers time was 2:13. And my Garmin Fenix invariably measures the distance of half marathon courses to within a tenth, or .15 miles of the advertised distance. This course needs to be shortened, I believe.

The race organization is fine, no complaints there. The swag was standard, nothing above or below average. But the post-race food was great! There was plenty of food to eat after the race, which is always nice. Plenty, and plenty to drink. Some of it was packaged snacks and some was bake sale type snacks that must have been organized by the race directors. Loved that stuff.

It’s a small race and there was plenty of parking, and parking was AT the start line, which is always a plus. But if they hold this race again starting in 2021, and if it grows into a larger race they’ll have to find additional parking. I mean, I think there may have only been 100 people running, give or take. That might be off, but it feels like a small race, and that’s a good thing.

This race is rural and although it is literally beside the highway I don’t recall any motels nearby, so if you are coming from out of town (if they resume this race) you’d not be able to walk from your motel to this race.

I’m not a great runner, I have slow times, but I’ve run maybe 50 races. This is one of my favorites. Probably not worth traveling across the country for, but if you are within a two or three hour drive and looking for a decent race, consider this one. It’s on my calendar of race to do again, if the tentative 2021 date holds.

DIFFICULTY
3
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5
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5
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3

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The scenery on this course is great, but not like Zion or Glacier great. But worth the trip. But by far the best thing about this race is the aid … MORE

The scenery on this course is great, but not like Zion or Glacier great. But worth the trip. But by far the best thing about this race is the aid stations. They have them every two miles and it isn’t just water. They had gels, fruit, and all sorts of goodies. By the end of the race I was feeling a little full from overindulging at the aid stations. Not kidding, it’s that good.

The parking is fine and there weren’t any on site hotels, so you will have to drive in. And although the course is pretty, it doesn’t go through the Cades Cove that I remember going to when I was younger. It isn’t a rural race along quaint country roads the entire time. There are some rural hilly roads, but there are also some busier roads that you’ll run on.

Highly recommend this race. In 50+ races I’ve run this is easily in the top 10.

DIFFICULTY
3
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5
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So I ran this race in 2018 but cannot find my results on the race page. So it may be that my chip time did not register. No idea why. … MORE

So I ran this race in 2018 but cannot find my results on the race page. So it may be that my chip time did not register. No idea why. My Garmin Fenix shows a time of 2:11 though, so that’s what I’ve entered. Not sure if maybe my chip was faulty or if their chip timing wasn’t up to the job.

This course is on a beautiful lake in Guntersville. It’s on a sidewalk that runs along the lake the entire way. However, this is a loop course and I think maybe we had to do 10 or 12 loops, and although it was a small race – maybe 150 people, at most, between all of the races? – it felt crowded the entire time. This was not something I enjoyed and I’ve not run another of the Sweet Southern Discomfort races for this reason.

As I understand it, the race organizers deliberately choose looped courses so that they can have a single aid station, which admittedly does make race organization a heck of a lot easier, I would imagine. And the single aid station is a runner’s dream…. or maybe a nightmare if you can’t control yourself with all of the yummy goodies at the aid station. Literally, this is a smorgasbord of junk food (we’ll call it energy food) that you can eat all along the way. You get your own plastic cup and you write your name on it, and you re-use it each time you come around for a new loop. That part was great, and that’s what attracted me to this race to begin with. I like races with a lot of good food, during or after the race.

Parking was easy, and not more than a 1 minute walk from the start line. Packet pick up was also easy on race day. You’d need to drive to the race though, there isn’t any lodging within easy walking distance.

Beautiful scenery, great food, good organization, but due to the looped and crowded course I’d not do this race again. These are popular races though and it’s not a bad race at all.

DIFFICULTY
3
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4
SCENERY
3
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3

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This is a great race. One of my favorites. The course is beautiful, the organization is great, the parking is easy, the post-race food and festival are the best I've … MORE

This is a great race. One of my favorites. The course is beautiful, the organization is great, the parking is easy, the post-race food and festival are the best I’ve seen in 50+ races, and there is just so much good about this race and almost nothing bad.

For starters, this is a medium size race that is growing larger each year, it seems. But because it takes over an outlet mall (is it an outlet mall? Not sure, but it feels like one), races have all the large parking lots to park in, so easy parking is always nice. Although it is in a shopping area the race begins before things open and this Bridge Street Town Centre does NOT feel like your typical outlet mall area. It is very quaint, with cobblestone streets and waterways and cute bridges and park benches. It’s quite nice, actually. And the post-race festival takes place in this area. This post-race festival is second to none. All you can eat food, drink, I mean… this is venders coming out, offering up their food, for free. And, on top of that, you have the standard packaged snacks as well. For the post-race alone this race is worth running.

But even if the race didn’t have a good post-race, the course alone makes the race worth running. It’s a great course, one of my favorite. You start in the shopping area but pretty quickly you are out in the countryside, running along hills and hollows, past old churches and farms. Quite a scenic route. There are some hills but I’d probably not call this a particularly hilly course. It’s a quick’ish course but probably not PR quick. You’ll definitely enjoy it though.

Highly recommend this race. Don’t put it on your life’s bucket list or anything, but it’s worth traveling a few hours to run. Easy parking, great course, great post-race… this is in my top 3 favorite races. I really can’t think of anything that would make this a better race… except perhaps transport the post-race party and easy parking to one of the National Park races, or to a flat beach race.

DIFFICULTY
3
PRODUCTION
5
SCENERY
3
SWAG
4

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Not to be confused with the road race series of the same name but which is held in August, this April trail race is great. The course isn't quite 13.1 … MORE

Not to be confused with the road race series of the same name but which is held in August, this April trail race is great. The course isn’t quite 13.1 miles, or wasn’t by my Garmin measurement, but it was a pretty course and I enjoyed the park. Such a pretty place. The course itself, although pretty, doesn’t afford any stunning waterfall or cliffside views. These exist in the park, although perhaps not in a manageable trail route. The course is mostly tree-covered.

They were grilling burgers and there was plenty of post-race food. Plus you get a great long-sleeve tee-shirt hoody. Parking was good and was right next to the start line. Bathrooms were not portapoddies, they had real bathrooms, which was a nice change from most races. And since it was a small race you really don’t have to wait in line for anything.

I would recommend this race for those who are looking for a decent trail run, but not if you are looking for an exact 13.1 run.

DIFFICULTY
4
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4
SCENERY
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Sean "run bum's" races should be on your bucket list. This race is great. It's cold, but there is a great pre-race party the night before, and they offer a … MORE

Sean “run bum’s” races should be on your bucket list. This race is great. It’s cold, but there is a great pre-race party the night before, and they offer a pint glass and free beer at the end of the race. The course seems to be modified a bit each year. One year it went by Angel Falls in the park, and other years you run by quiet wooded ponds. He seems to always have a surprise on the course as well. Once it was an electric heavy metal guitarist standing on the beach playing as you ran by on the sand. Another year it was a bagpiper playing on the dock of the pond. Always a great race, and Sean’s enthusiasm is part of what makes his races so great.

For those purists who want their half marathon’s to be exactly 13.1 miles, this isn’t your race. Sean’s races almost always fall short of 13.1 by up to a mile. He’s pretty upfront about that, and unapologetic. And all the runners seem to enjoy the race anyway.

DIFFICULTY
4
PRODUCTION
5
SCENERY
5
SWAG
5

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This was a Spartan Super, somewhere between 6 and 9 miles. My best estimate was about 7 miles. I don't think they kept the same course after the 2015 race, … MORE

This was a Spartan Super, somewhere between 6 and 9 miles. My best estimate was about 7 miles. I don’t think they kept the same course after the 2015 race, but this was the most brutal course I’d done in any Spartan race. I’d run maybe five or six up to this point and volunteered on several other courses. The word “hard” does not begin to describe this course. Another course I volunteered on later, I ran into one of the race organizers for the AVL race and she admitted that they may have overdone it on the course, but noted that it was a televised race so it had to be hard. For context, I placed 762 out of 5,735. Clearly I’m not an elite racer, but that is within the top 15% or so of all racers. I honestly wasn’t sure if I was going to make it to the finish. And when I did, I’m not ashamed to admit that I cried, just from the emotional toll of trying to stay in the race. And this is not someone who doesn’t finish races, or who cries after races. In about 50 races, none of that from me… except for this Spartan.

If they changed the course I would do this race again. Parking was typical for a Spartan, festival also typical. As always, the fire jump at the end could be a bit better (build something bigger than just a pile of coals for those who finish after the elites), but also, as always, these races are expensive as hell. Volunteer and you can race for free, and these races are volunteer intensive, so they do need you.

Asheville is nearby and this is a great reason to add this race to your calendar. This is my hometown, so I’m a little biased, but if you are there for a few days the area has lots to do. Go exploring. But be prepared for a hard race at the quarry.

The scenery was hard to beat though. But it wasn’t super enjoyable

DIFFICULTY
5
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4
SCENERY
5
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3

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This is a small race. The course is pretty, rural, flat'ish with a few hills, and just a real pleasant run. Much of the course, maybe the second half, is … MORE

This is a small race. The course is pretty, rural, flat’ish with a few hills, and just a real pleasant run. Much of the course, maybe the second half, is along an old Rails to Trails path and is quite pretty. The course is a loop and after you finish you get a nice coffee cup to fill up with chicken noodle soup. The cup is a nice change of pace from the typical tee-shirts that races usually give.

The race organization is fine, nothing above or below average, particularly for a small race. There are indoor bathrooms, which is ALWAYS a plus. And because it is a small race there was no waiting in lines at the bathrooms, which is, again, always a plus. Parking was easy, and plenty.

The morning I showed up for the race I had a hard time finding the starting line. Turns out the race was cancelled due to rain and either an email hadn’t gone out or it hadn’t gone out in time, I can’t remember… but I wasn’t the only one who hadn’t gotten the email. There were quite a few runners who came to run. The race organizer showed up as well, just in case people showed up. He told us the course and it was still marked, so all of us who showed up went ahead and ran, and then invited us to come back and run the rescheduled race again, which I did. So although he was nice, I do think the communication could have been made a little sooner. But maybe not. Who knows. Anyway, it all worked fine in the end.

The namesake Hound Dog is at the race and loves attention, and ran the race as well. It’s in a small, small town and I don’t recall any lodging nearby. We stayed at a B&B in Pulaski, which is a cute town with a lot of history. There is a great little town just south of Elkmont, in Alabama, called Athens. This is a town with a lot of Southern character in the historic town square. Recommend visiting if you are in the area for a run. The Rails to Trails path is worth running even if you aren’t there for an official race. And the trail ends beside a little store that sells homemade farmed goat cheese products.

This race has been discontinued, I think, which is a shame. If it starts back up it is worth a drive out to do the race. I did it twice and that’s probably enough for me. I liked it, but there are a lot of other races I’d like to do and unlike, say, Bridge Street Town Center Half Marathon, in Huntsville, or the Chattanooga Marathon (which I’d do every year if schedule permitted), two times is probably enough for this race.

DIFFICULTY
3
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3
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4
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4

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So this is a great course, very pretty rural area and a nice small lake for the swim, but the race organization feels like it needs polish. It needs polish … MORE

So this is a great course, very pretty rural area and a nice small lake for the swim, but the race organization feels like it needs polish.

It needs polish from the transition area to the actual course, particularly the swim. I think they have made some changes so it may be better after the 2016 edition of the race. But I first ran this race in 1989, and again in 1990, and it was very well done then, better than in 2016, oddly, and I think the 1989 edition was maybe only its third or fourth year.

Although it is out in a rural area the spectators around the finish line were great, and it’s a fun local race if you are local. But certainly not a race you want to drive more than an hour’ish to do. I would do this race again, I do enjoy it, and it seems to draw a lot of the same locals each year. I am only 30 minutes from the race location.

DIFFICULTY
2
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3
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4
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3

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Great run in a pretty location, and in hallowed ground. This is a run through the battlefield, both on road and off road. It was a nice mix of road … MORE

Great run in a pretty location, and in hallowed ground. This is a run through the battlefield, both on road and off road. It was a nice mix of road and trail. This is a mostly flat course, just with a few rolling hills but nothing too difficult. There were a few places where the grass in the battlefield was a little long, could have been mowed a little closer to the race. And it’s toward the end of the race when you are ready for the running to get easier, not harder.

Organization of this race is fine, zero complaints. Nothing out of the ordinary either good or bad. I would run this race again.

DIFFICULTY
3
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3
SCENERY
5
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3

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I was in SOCAL on a quick business trip and found this race at the last minute. What a find! I do most of my races, to date, in the … MORE

I was in SOCAL on a quick business trip and found this race at the last minute. What a find! I do most of my races, to date, in the eastern half of the US. This was completely different scenery, and such a nice change. This was not a race that had a lot of support and not much at the finish line either, so take your own water and fuel. But this is a race worth doing.

DIFFICULTY
4
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5
SCENERY
5
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3

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This race is a low cost race that is great for local runners. You probably won't want to drive too far for this race, My family and I ran this … MORE

This race is a low cost race that is great for local runners. You probably won’t want to drive too far for this race, My family and I ran this together for a few years. At $25 registration fee, the entire family can run.

Parking was easy and it was only a short walk (or shuttle ride) up to the start line. It is in December so it’s a cold race, but the course is fantastic. Right along the Chattanooga Riverpark greenway. It’s an out and back course.

Post-race you walk to the Sports Barn and have a biscuits and gravy meal.

Again, race production is cheap and maybe only 100 people ran this year. There might have been a 5k option in addition to the 10k option. It’s a great little race and you get a nice long sleeve shirt (the same one, I think, every year) at the end.

DIFFICULTY
2
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3
SCENERY
3
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2

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This was my first half marathon, and I hadn't planned on doing one; I was looking for a 10k to do while I was doing some research in Grand Rapids. … MORE

This was my first half marathon, and I hadn’t planned on doing one; I was looking for a 10k to do while I was doing some research in Grand Rapids. I happened to see this race and that the cost was only $25, so I figured why not. I’m glad I did, and after this race I immediately began searching for more half races, and have never looked back. I credit this race with getting me into half marathon running, and that is largely due to the cheap entry price and the pancake flat course, both of which were good things for a newbie. And I think that this is exactly why this race director does this sort of no frills, cheap, and easy course kind of races – to make running, racing, accessible to more people.

There wasn’t really a pre-race festival or post-race party, which was fine. I wasn’t even sure I was in the right place when I got to the start line, there was just not much going on, and only a few runners. So if you are looking for a festival sort of environment, this isn’t the race you’d want. I don’t recall any post-race party, except people standing around drinking water at the finish line. It may have changed in the last few years, I ran this race in 2015.

The course isn’t terribly scenic, although there are a few miles that were pretty. Otherwise it was just along park sidewalk or the sides of the roads. Pretty flat. I like a course with some hills, but for a newbie the flat course was a real plus. The race director had set up the course so that he was able to move his mobile water stops and he personally handed out water at most or all of the aid stations. This course was not chip-timed – volunteers wrote down the times when you came across the finish line.

Swag was nothing fancy but I could have cared less, I had run my first half marathon! And now that I’ve run quite a few races I’d still do one of these Run Michigan Cheap series races if I lived in Michigan. A cheap race series is a real asset to the increasingly expensive world of racing. And with a drawer full of medals that never see the light of day after I get home from the race, who really wants or needs all that stuff anyway? Keep the medals and let me keep my money.

Cheap, flat, small race (50 runners?) had aid stations, and an enthusiastic race director. Lots to like about this no frills race.

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2

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The scenery in this race is great. Hard to have a race in the Finger Lakes without having good scenery though. Good race production, good transition areas, easy parking near … MORE

The scenery in this race is great. Hard to have a race in the Finger Lakes without having good scenery though. Good race production, good transition areas, easy parking near the transition area and swim start.

DIFFICULTY
3
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4
SCENERY
5
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3

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This was one of my first triathlons in NY, and the first I'd done in 14 years... since maybe 1990? The scenery was great, we ran into the falls, did … MORE

This was one of my first triathlons in NY, and the first I’d done in 14 years… since maybe 1990? The scenery was great, we ran into the falls, did a turnaround, and headed back out. The swim and bike were nothing out of the ordinary. I’d recommend this race, or almost any in the Finger Lakes.

DIFFICULTY
3
PRODUCTION
3
SCENERY
5
SWAG
3

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