Overall Rating
Overall Rating (9 Reviews)
3.3
(9 Ratings)  (9 Reviews)
DIFFICULTY
2.2
SCENERY
3.8
PRODUCTION
3.3
SWAG
3.1
RaceNM presents the Great Balloon Chase ½ Marathon, 10K and 5K at Balloon Fiesta Park. Experience the excitement and beauty of a morning run as you witness hot air balloons from the world’s largest hot air ballooning event take to the sky backdropped against the Sandia Mountains and Rio Grande … MORE
Local Historical Weather (Oct 06):
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H (°F)  78  66  75  83  77
L (°F)  53  55  57  54  51
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Recent reviews

    RunBillie FIRST-TIMER '23

    This race was okay. This is a small race. The packet pickup was held in a field where the race start and finish line were posted. There was a tent … MORE

    This race was okay. This is a small race. The packet pickup was held in a field where the race start and finish line were posted. There was a tent where you pick your bib, shirt (shirts ran small), and a balloon themed scarf. Hats were promised after the race along with medals. There were no vendors, which made for a quick process.
    Race morning there were a few photo props and opportunties before the start. The course started on a hard packed dirt road in a field, it then went out to a short stint along the main road before heading into a park on a paved path with a dirt foot path along side. There were real restrooms at the turnaround point and a water station with volunteers. I don’t recall any port o potties on the course. However, there were volunteers to ensure we made the correct turns. There was another water station at the beginning of the bike path. The course was out and back until the last mile or so. The post race food was oranges, water and breakfast baritos. I don’t recall wa else was there. I received my medal but the promised hats were all gone.
    We were give the choice of an old race shirt or having the hat mailed to us.
    Many hot air balloons in the distant sky as were visible on the course, which was cool. We also received free race photos. I’m glad I experienced the Great Balloon Chase but unfortunately, I would not to it again.

    DIFFICULTY
    1
    PRODUCTION
    3
    SCENERY
    3
    SWAG
    1

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    ljd13 FIRST-TIMER '23

    Race is held during the Balloon Fiesta in Albuquerque. Course mainly on a paved bike/walk trail. Minimal incline/decline. Being able to see the balloons was really cool! Lots of photo … MORE

    Race is held during the Balloon Fiesta in Albuquerque. Course mainly on a paved bike/walk trail. Minimal incline/decline. Being able to see the balloons was really cool! Lots of photo ops. Some hiccups that included running out of cups at one of the late aid stations, no water at the finish line (Gatorade was available), ran out of beanies for the back of the pack runners but the race director said more would be ordered and mailed out. (Could swap for a t shirt or tank top) These are things that I’m sure will be fixed/addressed for next year. One concern though that the trail was open to “the public” during the race and while most bikers were considerate, some were a tad bit aggressive. Overall I would recommend the race. And stay for the Balloon Fest!
    Side note: it looks like they did include a ticket to attend one of the events at the Balloon Fest last year. That would have been a really nice addition to the race swag! The swag did include the bib (really cool – balloon shaped), a nice medal (with balloons), a “silk” scarf (switch THAT out for the ticket?) and the beanie (as mentioned, they ran out).

    DIFFICULTY
    3
    PRODUCTION
    4
    SCENERY
    5
    SWAG
    4

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    cdefonso FIRST-TIMER '22

    If going to Albuquerque's famous International Balloon Fiesta is on your bucket list, you will definitely want to include running a half marathon while watching the morning mass ascension as … MORE

    If going to Albuquerque’s famous International Balloon Fiesta is on your bucket list, you will definitely want to include running a half marathon while watching the morning mass ascension as well!

    This is a fairly small race that starts in a field and eventually hooks up to a multi-purpose trail. There were only 4 porta-potties at the starting line for all half marathon, 10K, and 5K participants, so just be aware and plan accordingly! The half marathon goes out at 7:00am, followed by the 10K (7:30am) and 5K (8:00am) racers. Race communication prior to the race is pretty sparse; no emails were sent out until the week of the race.

    Packet pickup was available on Saturday afternoon as well as 2 hours prior to the race on Sunday morning. The t-shirts (non-technical) were really nice, and the balloon-shaped bib was a nice touch!

    Overall, the race is pretty flat, but just know that in order to get to the multi-purpose paved trail (which you will share with many bikers and other runners), you will be doing a trail run and then running on a busy road with cars driving past you at high speeds. Luckily this only lasts for a mile or so. The course is an out and back, with a turnaround at mile 7. Water stops were every 2-3 miles, and they had both water and Gatorade available.

    There really aren’t any easy places for spectators to view the course so you have to rely on volunteers to cheer you on. But really, the reason you have this race in the first place is to watch all of the hot air balloons launching in the sky while you are running. It really is a beautiful sight to see!

    All race participants (half, 10K, and 5K) received the same medal, which was nice, as well as a special 5 year anniversary cowbell. All race participants also received a general admission ticket to Balloon Fiesta (worth about $15) which could be used at any session. Overall, it was a nice race and I would recommend.

    DIFFICULTY
    1
    PRODUCTION
    4
    SCENERY
    4
    SWAG
    5

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    ofshadowsgrey FIRST-TIMER '21

    Nice view of the balloon flying in the sky during the race. Course was an out and back from a field which finding in the morning was difficult. The location … MORE

    Nice view of the balloon flying in the sky during the race. Course was an out and back from a field which finding in the morning was difficult. The location had no markings, signs, or lights. It’s 5am, a pitch black field, and nothing else. Better communication and organization is needed.
    For those who come from below sea level, like Florida, arrive a few days early and get altitude sickness meds. Even with the meds I had to take it easy.

    DIFFICULTY
    3
    PRODUCTION
    1
    SCENERY
    2
    SWAG
    2

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    RRWAEB83 FIRST-TIMER '21

    Seeing the hot air balloons was fun and gorgeous. The medals were disappointing but the shirts were nice. Minimal communication from the organizers. MORE

    Seeing the hot air balloons was fun and gorgeous. The medals were disappointing but the shirts were nice. Minimal communication from the organizers.

    DIFFICULTY
    2
    PRODUCTION
    3
    SCENERY
    5
    SWAG
    2

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    frankhwu FIRST-TIMER '21

    The Great Balloon Chase is a destination event. It coincides with the Albuquerque international balloon festival, and it is at high altitude (approximately a mile above sea level). Both of … MORE

    The Great Balloon Chase is a destination event. It coincides with the Albuquerque international balloon festival, and it is at high altitude (approximately a mile above sea level). Both of these aspects are defining features.

    The balloon festival is apparently known around the world and a leading one if not the single most significant of these occasions, not that I know anything about ballooning. There are penguins and pigs and representatives of corporations and cities floating in the sky, which you don’t see every day or anywhere else. I can say I have never seen so many balloons ever, and it is impressive against the southwestern vista. The timing means many more folks are in town than usual. On the flight, you’ll hear people talking about balloons. Out and about, there are lots of chase vehicles all over.

    The high altitude is the defining challenge. For lowlanders such as myself, this means huffing and puffing from the get go. Anyone not accustomed to being up at this level should acclimatize. I had two days. That is not enough. To put it into perspective, I ran a 2:35 the Sunday before. I felt great in the morning, much better than a week ago, with a full eight and a half hours of sleep, and I eked out a 2:51. I put in more effort too. I really felt the exertion in my lungs. My relative finish was terrific, my best post-pandemic. I was at the top of the bottom quartile.

    That has to be taken with a caveat. I ran a quarter mile short. So I probably was closer to the top of the bottom quintile. But the point is the same: feeling pretty good, turning in a decent performance for me, I was still slow. Yet the crowd was very slow, with many from out of town and a good number of walkers.

    It should be mentioned this venue also is desert. Hydration is crucial. That is always true. It is all the more so when it is as dry as this: my shoes were a bit moist due to a mishap the day before, and my running companion, who is a local, said not to worry; they’d dry out overnight. She was right. The temperatures were just about perfect. I started with a light jacket over my t-shirt, took it off at mile three and stashed it in my backpack. I had on light long pants by Under Armour, not shorts, but you could go either way with that and not regret it.

    The route is an out and back. It traverses a field. A bit is along crowded roads. Most is along the Rio Grande. Thanks to global warming, it is sad looking in this area.

    Back to the distance. We went through the finish the wrong way. That has to do with poor signage at the very end and a lack of volunteers.

    My running companion was unimpressed by the organization. I have to agree with her that the bib pick up, at a sporting good store, was the slowest of more than 100 races. It was leisurely. That isn’t fatal.

    Everyone was friendly and encouraging. So all in all, I recommend this race warmly. The word “unique” is not used properly in general. It means there is only one. This is unique. Nothing else occurs during a giant balloon festival (yes, there are races with a few, but you haven’t seen anything like this). Hundreds of balloons rising up as you take off is by itself a compelling reason to come out here.

    DIFFICULTY
    5
    PRODUCTION
    3
    SCENERY
    5
    SWAG
    4

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    domino76 FIRST-TIMER '19

    I always dreamed of going to the International hot air balloon fiesta in Albuquerque (largest in the world). Who knew that had a half marathon for it on the side. … MORE

    I always dreamed of going to the International hot air balloon fiesta in Albuquerque (largest in the world). Who knew that had a half marathon for it on the side. It was well organized, everyone was so nice, the nicest volunteers I have ever had on a run. It felt like I was running in a small town race. Even the people walking along the race cheered you on. However the highlight of this run was seeing all the 100’s of Balloons on the horizon as you run along the river. It was truly unreal and a running experience you can’t get anywhere else. I would highly recommend this run to anyone. Than you make it a trip for a few days and check out the amazing festival and see the balloons up close.

    DIFFICULTY
    2
    PRODUCTION
    5
    SCENERY
    5
    SWAG
    5
    My Media

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    50statesSandy FIRST-TIMER '18

    The race director for this race is a gem. It is held during the Albuquerque Balloon festival and being from NM has been one of my greatest memories. This race … MORE

    The race director for this race is a gem. It is held during the Albuquerque Balloon festival and being from NM has been one of my greatest memories. This race is still growing and working thru it’s kinks, however, despite the windy morning (no balloon launch) it would have been spectacular to run with the balloons. The course was no difficult and is mostly paved except for a stretch of gravel along a canal. It’s an out and back loop and not too too exciting but the weather was crappy and it didn’t help. On a good year with the balloons launching this race would have been awesome. I enjoyed my time and worth the exercise to get tacos!

    DIFFICULTY
    2
    PRODUCTION
    4
    SCENERY
    4
    SWAG
    3

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    shawa2007 FIRST-TIMER '18

    Race aligns with the famous Albuquerque Balloon Fiesta; unfortunately due to weather this year the balloons did not launch on race day. Race starts in Rio Rancho and ends at … MORE

    Race aligns with the famous Albuquerque Balloon Fiesta; unfortunately due to weather this year the balloons did not launch on race day. Race starts in Rio Rancho and ends at the Balloon Fiesta grounds. Shirt selection at packet pickup could definitely use some help; ran out of many of the commonly selected sizes.

    DIFFICULTY
    1
    PRODUCTION
    3
    SCENERY
    1
    SWAG
    2

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