Overall Rating
Overall Rating (46 Reviews)
4.8
(46 Ratings)(46 Reviews)
DIFFICULTY
3
SCENERY
4.6
PRODUCTION
4.5
SWAG
4.6
Our Great Smoky Mountains Half Marathon and 5K courses both start and finish in front of the Tally Ho Inn in Townsend, TN – “The Peaceful Side of the Smokies”! Both courses are scenic runs with gorgeous views of the Smoky Mountains and Tennessee countryside. We’ll have plenty of parking … MORE
Local Weather (Sep 11)
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H (°F) 93 82 62 85 83
L (°F) 69 69 57 68 66
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Recent reviews

    HalfSpeedQueen FIRST-TIMER '19

    Vacation Races always puts on a fabulous event. They are receptive (and honest) with feedback from the events which allows them to improve each time. By now, they are a … MORE

    Vacation Races always puts on a fabulous event. They are receptive (and honest) with feedback from the events which allows them to improve each time. By now, they are a finely tuned machine.

    This course was gradually uphill with gentle, rolling inclines the entire way. And the humidity was higher than what I experience in SoCal. That being said, I *loved* this race. The scenery was lush, green, and relatively serene. We ran on a wide road so there was very little to no congestion along the course. Aid stations were plentiful and well-manned. And the quality of the swag and post-race snacks was top notch. Way to go Vacation Races!

    DIFFICULTY
    3
    PRODUCTION
    5
    SCENERY
    5
    SWAG
    5

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    me489 FIRST-TIMER '19

    I loved the cupless race concept! The hydrapouch provided was fantastic, practical and lightweight! I plan to reuse mine in future races. I love the medals and swag, and actually … MORE

    I loved the cupless race concept! The hydrapouch provided was fantastic, practical and lightweight! I plan to reuse mine in future races. I love the medals and swag, and actually ran in my provided shirt, which was an unexpected decision for me. The shirt was a material I could actually run a race in (not cotton thank goodness). Also, these races have the club hikes to follow your race weekend with, which is both exciting, rewarding and a great way to get out and meet other racers! My partner and I highly recommend the Charlies Bunion Club Hike.

    I would definitely run this race again, in fact, the spectator that came to cheer me on this time loved the event so much they have begun training for the 2020 race to run it with me this time! Thank you for a great first half marathon experience!

    DIFFICULTY
    4
    PRODUCTION
    5
    SCENERY
    5
    SWAG
    5

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    jmthurmes FIRST-TIMER '19

    The race was not as difficult as the elevation map made it seem which was a nice surprise! But unfortunately it also wasn't as scenic as I had hoped. MORE

    The race was not as difficult as the elevation map made it seem which was a nice surprise! But unfortunately it also wasn’t as scenic as I had hoped.

    DIFFICULTY
    3
    PRODUCTION
    5
    SCENERY
    3
    SWAG
    5

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    knoxmas FIRST-TIMER '19

    Overall, this was a really great race and my first experience with Vacation Races. They did an outstanding job with every aspect. The pre-race info packet was the best I've … MORE

    Overall, this was a really great race and my first experience with Vacation Races. They did an outstanding job with every aspect. The pre-race info packet was the best I’ve ever seen and the expo and races were run well. While shuttling to the start line so early isn’t ideal, VR did a great job handling traffic, parking, the shuttle, and keeping people awake at the start line. Thank you Vacation Races for a great weekend!

    DIFFICULTY
    3
    PRODUCTION
    5
    SCENERY
    3
    SWAG
    5

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    tlcald42 FIRST-TIMER '19

    My first time participating in the great smoky half marathon put on by vacation races and I feel they done an exceptional job! It was a good course with only … MORE

    My first time participating in the great smoky half marathon put on by vacation races and I feel they done an exceptional job! It was a good course with only slight hills and the scenery was amazing! From running next to the creek to crossing a pedestrian bridge, there was a lot to look at. The last 3 miles were run in the open next to a highway, which wasn’t great, especially with the sun beaming down, but your almost to the finish so I didn’t mind. There was an adequate amount of water stations and porta potties along the course. At one stop, they provide honey stinger gels and oranges, etc. But you do have to provide your own water container. I always wear my hydro pack, so this isn’t a concern for me.

    DIFFICULTY
    3
    PRODUCTION
    4
    SCENERY
    5
    SWAG
    4

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    daniel.haga REPEAT RUNNER '19

    Really enjoyed this race. The scenery was great and the team at vacation races puts on a really great event. I like the dedication to zero waste in all aspects. … MORE

    Really enjoyed this race. The scenery was great and the team at vacation races puts on a really great event. I like the dedication to zero waste in all aspects. The race swag is top notch as well.

    DIFFICULTY
    2
    PRODUCTION
    5
    SCENERY
    4
    SWAG
    5

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    musical23 FIRST-TIMER '19

    To me, the thing that stands out the most about this race were the amenities; things that were provided to make your race experience better... On Friday, there were volunteers … MORE

    To me, the thing that stands out the most about this race were the amenities; things that were provided to make your race experience better… On Friday, there were volunteers EVERYWHERE; helping you park, ensuring that you were in the right line, answering questions and my favorite, the s’mores. On Saturday, the volunteers were assisting with traffic control, which could have been a nightmare and parking. After the bus ride to the starting line, there were plenty of port-a-johns, hot coffee and hot chocolate, bananas and plenty of Vaseline… in case you forgot. There was a young lady on the mic that kept us informed and entertained at the same time. There was a raffle and awesome prizes, even though I didn’t win… and this was all before the race.
    You cannot say enough about the gorgeous scenery, this was running through the Appalachians as you would imagine it to be. The weather was warm and very sticky, but we were warned ahead of time of this and encouraged to hydrate and watch our electrolytes.
    The start was a little congested, but only because we were restricted to one lane of a two lane road. Things began to thin out after a mile or so and any vehicles we did encounter were courteous and supportive. We did have to watch for bicyclists coming from behind, but they were usually good about announcing their presence and encouraging us as they rode by.
    Aid stations were plentiful and once again, the volunteers were supportive and encouraging. The only part of the course that would bear a caution is at times, the pitch of the road was pretty steep. I did read about it beforehand, but actually experiencing it was another matter… not too tough, but be prepared.
    At the end, that medals are by far my favorite half marathon and 5K medals. The Black Bear Challenge medal is pretty cool too.
    If you are looking for a fantastic, destination race, this needs to be on your list… Great job VR and most importantly, THANK-YOU Volunteers… you were awesome.

    DIFFICULTY
    3
    PRODUCTION
    5
    SCENERY
    5
    SWAG
    5

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    tcrash99 FIRST-TIMER '19

    First time to run in the Smokies and it was one great time. The setup was efficient and easy to get around. The volunteers rocked it and were very helpful. … MORE

    First time to run in the Smokies and it was one great time. The setup was efficient and easy to get around. The volunteers rocked it and were very helpful. One of the smoothest and easiest races to participate in. Great job done by all.

    DIFFICULTY
    4
    PRODUCTION
    5
    SCENERY
    5
    SWAG
    5
    My Media

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    schaea92 REPEAT RUNNER '19

    A beautiful course - the scenery was amazing! This was my first vacation race and far surpassed any half marathon I’ve done before. The course had some hills but not … MORE

    A beautiful course – the scenery was amazing! This was my first vacation race and far surpassed any half marathon I’ve done before. The course had some hills but not unbearable. I would’ve like to see more porta potties At the start line and/or mile 4 bc there were crazy lines (before start) at start line and also lines at mile 4.

    DIFFICULTY
    3
    PRODUCTION
    4
    SCENERY
    5
    SWAG
    4

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    arholley FIRST-TIMER '19

    The scenery was beautiful and the race was very well organized. I had a lot of fun and the course was easy for my first half. VR had great communication … MORE

    The scenery was beautiful and the race was very well organized. I had a lot of fun and the course was easy for my first half. VR had great communication leading up to the race so I knew exactly what to expect. Overall awesome race, I can’t wait to do another vacation race in another beautiful national park!

    DIFFICULTY
    1
    PRODUCTION
    5
    SCENERY
    5
    SWAG
    5

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    acm0995 FIRST-TIMER '18

    Loved the local aspect. Stayed in a nearby cabin and explored TN. Great job with organized buses and beautiful medals. Loved the hammocks at the end. MORE

    Loved the local aspect. Stayed in a nearby cabin and explored TN. Great job with organized buses and beautiful medals. Loved the hammocks at the end.

    DIFFICULTY
    3
    PRODUCTION
    5
    SCENERY
    3
    SWAG
    5

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    lydia9917 FIRST-TIMER '18

    I would highly recommend this rave to anyone, especially nature/mountain lovers, and runners who love some awesome bling! I participated in the black bear double challenge so I received an … MORE

    I would highly recommend this rave to anyone, especially nature/mountain lovers, and runners who love some awesome bling!
    I participated in the black bear double challenge so I received an extra medal at the finish line for completing both races! It’s a beauty too!
    The course was very quiet and beautiful. It was mostly run on mountain backroads which has it pros and cons. One awesome thing is we didn’t deal with much car traffic at all, for the most part it was all runners who sure made the race go by quickly! Another great thing is the course was beautiful. It really captures how beautiful our mountains are! However the roads were sometimes difficult to run on because of the steep grading wearing on my knees and ankles…the hills were pretty killer too. But it was worth it!

    DIFFICULTY
    4
    PRODUCTION
    5
    SCENERY
    5
    SWAG
    5

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    lydia9917 FIRST-TIMER '18

    The course was hilly, but SO beautiful! The atmosphere was so encouraging and the crowd was awesome! There was cheering pretty much the whole race! MORE

    The course was hilly, but SO beautiful! The atmosphere was so encouraging and the crowd was awesome! There was cheering pretty much the whole race!

    DIFFICULTY
    4
    PRODUCTION
    5
    SCENERY
    5
    SWAG
    4

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    aradtke88 FIRST-TIMER '18

    Was my first ever 5K. Was very hot and humid and I was fighting off a cold but was so much fun. Swag was great. Medals are amazing. Can't wait … MORE

    Was my first ever 5K. Was very hot and humid and I was fighting off a cold but was so much fun. Swag was great. Medals are amazing. Can’t wait to do it again.

    DIFFICULTY
    2
    PRODUCTION
    4
    SCENERY
    4
    SWAG
    3

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    cdefonso FIRST-TIMER '18

    This was my first Vacation Races event in a National Park, and I was really impressed with the production. They did a fantastic job! I did the Black Bear Double … MORE

    This was my first Vacation Races event in a National Park, and I was really impressed with the production. They did a fantastic job! I did the Black Bear Double (5K on Friday evening, Half on Saturday morning), but was really disappointed with the 5K course. It was terrible! You run for a mile on this very narrow bike path, barely 5 ft wide, and then run another mile in a field, before turning around and heading back for the last mile to the Tally Ho Inn. It made it very challenging to pass anyone. I’m not sure the VR folks can do anything about it, since it really makes sense to start and finish from the Tally Ho Inn, but just know that going in if you decide to do the 5K.

    The half marathon was an A to B course so you had to take a shuttle bus in the morning from the Tally Ho Inn (finish) to the local high school where the start was. That was a very smooth process. Plenty of room at the high school parking lot to start. The half marathon course runs along a paved back road along a river. Vacation Races promotes cupless water stops, so you either need to bring your own container or get a free hydra-pouch at the Expo. I think it’s a great system and found it easy to fill up on water and power aid. I wish more races did this! I didn’t really feel like the course was Great Smoky Mts scenic, but it was pleasant and not at all hilly. There are virtually no spectators along the course. Once you hit mile 9 or 10 (?), you run along a bike path along the very busy Lamar Alexander Parkway back to the Tally Ho Inn. The finish line is sort of crowded, but they call out your name as you cross and they have some nice goodies as refreshments. The medals and technical shirt are awesome! I look forward to more Vacation Races in my future!

    DIFFICULTY
    1
    PRODUCTION
    5
    SCENERY
    3
    SWAG
    5

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    PattyF FIRST-TIMER '17

    This course is fairly flat, even though it is in the Smokies. 727 feet of elevation gain is hardly noticeable over 13 miles. But it is really pretty and definitely … MORE

    This course is fairly flat, even though it is in the Smokies. 727 feet of elevation gain is hardly noticeable over 13 miles. But it is really pretty and definitely worth some pictures.

    DIFFICULTY
    2
    PRODUCTION
    5
    SCENERY
    5
    SWAG
    5
    My Media

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    JARunner2010 FIRST-TIMER '16

    I participated in a couple Vacation Races events and was immediately hooked and signed up for the Black Bear Challenge, too. As always, the event was extremely well organized. The … MORE

    I participated in a couple Vacation Races events and was immediately hooked and signed up for the Black Bear Challenge, too. As always, the event was extremely well organized. The 5K course was a little long, but I am sure that is something which will be remedied in short order. I thought the course was incredibly beautiful. I appreciated the finish line area being very near a couple local hotels, which made it very easy for after the race or to catch the shuttles before the races.

    DIFFICULTY
    2
    PRODUCTION
    5
    SCENERY
    5
    SWAG
    5

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    bragmankc REPEAT RUNNER '14

    Apparently I do well with hills because this course was challenging but I still ran my personal best time! This was my first experience with cup free racing and I … MORE

    Apparently I do well with hills because this course was challenging but I still ran my personal best time! This was my first experience with cup free racing and I really like knowing that trash isn’t hitting the ground at these races! Love the challenges that you guys put out there for finishers so that we can explore and enjoy America’s amazing national parks…I completed them all for this race!

    DIFFICULTY
    5
    PRODUCTION
    5
    SCENERY
    4
    SWAG
    4

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    odelg99 FIRST-TIMER '16

    Lodging is limited but still made up for the great views along the course, race staff were so organized, for my first half with vacation races, I was impressed and … MORE

    Lodging is limited but still made up for the great views along the course, race staff were so organized, for my first half with vacation races, I was impressed and will be doing another with them.

    DIFFICULTY
    4
    PRODUCTION
    5
    SCENERY
    5
    SWAG
    5
    My Media

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    paula9 REPEAT RUNNER '15

    I really enjoyed this race. We were under threat of heavy storms with possible cancellation but the weather held off until after. Course is beautiful. Great support, nice finish. cool … MORE

    I really enjoyed this race. We were under threat of heavy storms with possible cancellation but the weather held off until after. Course is beautiful. Great support, nice finish. cool shirt and cup free! cant wait to run another park race. They all look amazing

    DIFFICULTY
    4
    PRODUCTION
    5
    SCENERY
    4
    SWAG
    5

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