Overall Rating
Overall Rating (148 Reviews)
4.7
(148 Ratings) 🏆 (148 Reviews)
DIFFICULTY
3
SCENERY
4.4
PRODUCTION
4.6
SWAG
4.7
Escape to the “Peaceful Side of the Smokies” with a gorgeous race through the woods. The Great Smoky Mountains Half Marathon is a stunning race with sweeping panoramic views of the Smoky Mountains and Tennessee countryside. Both events finish in front of the Talley Ho Inn in Townsend, TN, “The … MORE
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Recent reviews

    runningpumpkin FIRST-TIMER '22

    Overall: This was a fun race - even with the constant rain. I knew I wasn't going to PR but I came here to run the Smokies and it was … MORE

    Overall: This was a fun race – even with the constant rain. I knew I wasn’t going to PR but I came here to run the Smokies and it was worth it. Great views! Vacation Races did an awesome job and look forward to running more of their races.

    Expo: It was located outdoors at Talley Ho Inn. Easy pick up for you bib and shirt. They had a VR store, a small running store and some other vendors. Also, a nice help tent in the middle.

    Start: The start is in Maryville – a big parking lot. They have busses that take you from Talley Ho to the start, ~15 min ride. The start has a great amount of port-a-potties which is always nice. They had a small stage for entertainment and raffle drawings – a way to entice you to get there early.

    Race: The actual starting line is a quick walk along the road after you exit the parking lot. You’re loosely placed in corrals and everyone just follows each other. It works since the race is smaller.
    For about 10 miles, the course is on a road along a river – there are small rolling hills and occasionally angled roads as the road turns – this can be tough on the hips. The course then enters on a running path as you reach Townsend. For me, the crowd wasn’t an issue. You have enough space to pass someone if you need to. The last few miles continues to have rolling hills and the finish line is after a small hill. The after the race snack pack was probably my favorite ever – bars, protein options, other snacks.

    Water/fuel: VR has a no waste policy. So you have an option to use a reusable, collapsible cup or a hydration vest. There were enough stations throughout and the line to get water wasn’t too bad when I passed them – I opted to use a hydration vest for this run. I can’t tell you how the spouts were and if the water flowed quickly.

    Final thoughts/Recs:
    – The elevation profile is scarier than it actually is – yes, there are hills and yes, you are overall going up hill. But it’s manageable. Smart pacing!
    -If you opt for the reusable cup – the one I received had a closed ring on it so bring an extra clip if you want to attach it to your belt or vest. It also collapses very easily and it is very light, so it can fit in your pocket without issue but it can also fall out and you don’t know it.
    -If you are traveling in, it might be helpful to stay at Talley Ho or nearby – so you don’t have to travel too far in the morning and sleep in a little bit. If you don’t, there was a lot of parking on the field next to Talley Ho.

    DIFFICULTY
    4
    PRODUCTION
    5
    SCENERY
    5
    SWAG
    5

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    aubreynetzel FIRST-TIMER '22

    Vacation races does it again - they always do such a great job with logistics, aid stations, volunteers, swag, and overall execution. I’ve done other vacation races and this wasn’t … MORE

    Vacation races does it again – they always do such a great job with logistics, aid stations, volunteers, swag, and overall execution. I’ve done other vacation races and this wasn’t the most beautiful course, but had its charm regardless. Swag was great, per usual, biggest bummer was it rained the whole time. I’d recommend, and make sure to make a trip out to Gatlinburg and make a weekend trip out of it!

    DIFFICULTY
    3
    PRODUCTION
    5
    SCENERY
    4
    SWAG
    5

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    patrickd FIRST-TIMER '22

    It had been about 8 years since my last half-marathon, and I was a bit nervous about getting back into them. However, I am so happy that I did with … MORE

    It had been about 8 years since my last half-marathon, and I was a bit nervous about getting back into them. However, I am so happy that I did with this race, in particular!

    I loved the atmosphere of the course, and the production and setup were great. Communication about the race and the logistics for before, during and after the race were plentiful and informative. I’m already looking for my next Vacation Race event to sign up for, and am looking forward to running this particular race again next year!

    DIFFICULTY
    3
    PRODUCTION
    4
    SCENERY
    5
    SWAG
    3

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    rlmoore FIRST-TIMER '22

    I really enjoyed this race!! The first nine miles were along a river with beautiful views. Great course support! Vacation Races put on a great race, very well organized and … MORE

    I really enjoyed this race!! The first nine miles were along a river with beautiful views. Great course support! Vacation Races put on a great race, very well organized and well-run!!

    DIFFICULTY
    2
    PRODUCTION
    5
    SCENERY
    4
    SWAG
    5

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    alopez210 FIRST-TIMER '22

    Beautiful course along the river through the mountains with manageable up hills. The most difficult part was the slope of the road, but that was only in certain areas so … MORE

    Beautiful course along the river through the mountains with manageable up hills. The most difficult part was the slope of the road, but that was only in certain areas so it was manageable too. Everything ran smoothly because the race was well organized. One of my best race experiences and can’t wait to run another VR race.

    DIFFICULTY
    3
    PRODUCTION
    5
    SCENERY
    4
    SWAG
    5

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    dmcrum FIRST-TIMER '22

    Even in the rain this was an amazing race! Beautiful scenery down a winding road. Even though its an uphill course with rolling hills it is very run-able! This needs … MORE

    Even in the rain this was an amazing race! Beautiful scenery down a winding road. Even though its an uphill course with rolling hills it is very run-able! This needs to be on every runners bucketlist! Vacation Races put on and amazing event with no hiccups! After race snack boxes are an extra bonus!!

    DIFFICULTY
    3
    PRODUCTION
    5
    SCENERY
    4
    SWAG
    5

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    traftonb FIRST-TIMER '22

    The course was beautiful and had amazing views of the mountains and trees!! It was a tad hilly of course which is expected, but I am definitely not used to … MORE

    The course was beautiful and had amazing views of the mountains and trees!! It was a tad hilly of course which is expected, but I am definitely not used to running hills where i’m from and this race was definitely manageable. Looking forward to running another vacation race like this in the future!

    DIFFICULTY
    3
    PRODUCTION
    5
    SCENERY
    5
    SWAG
    5
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    bcb1989 FIRST-TIMER '22

    This was my first half marathon race ever (and only my second ever race following a 10K two weeks prior), and I am so happy with my choice! It also … MORE

    This was my first half marathon race ever (and only my second ever race following a 10K two weeks prior), and I am so happy with my choice! It also happened to be how I chose to celebrate my birthday! The expo was a lot of fun, although I would hope that in the future they extend the end time beyond 5 PM since it is on a Friday. I had a 6 hour drive to Townsend, and even though I had given myself a cushion, there was highway and accident traffic along the way that made it so I arrived only 5 minutes before the end. But bib and shirt pickup were super smooth and in a beautiful spot.

    Race morning was interesting because it ended up being rainy from pre-race all the way til a couple hours after the races end. Shuttling to the start area went really smoothly, and was really nice because it allowed racers to talk, joke and enjoy some time to loosen any nerves. Having a little bit of cover besides trees and three pop-ups reserved for item check, a beverage station and the race staff’s raffle would’ve been nice; but it honestly wasn’t a detriment. The race itself was overall seamless! We found out after that the traffic control that was supposed to have assisted with the road portion (a majority of the course) fell through and the race staff had to improvise and step-in for law enforcement or whoever was booked. To me, the job they did with staff and course labeling made it as close to impossible to get lost or off course as could be. They also had such wonderful hydration and snack options along the course.

    Despite it being rainy the whole time, the course wasn’t hazardous at all, and running was smooth. The weather just made sure the Great Smokies were extra smoky for us lol Everything at and after the finish line was wonderful. The post-race snack boxes were stacked with replenishing goodies, plus bananas and chocolate milk. The process to get items checked at the start line was really easy, and I had no issue finding the shirt I tossed into the wardrobe dump bin along the course.

    I love my medal, so much. Being my first half marathon finisher medal is one thing, but it’s also just beautiful.

    My performance was a little less than I had hoped only because I’m not used to running on uneven ground/pavement in my training and regular runs. My knee/IT band issues popped up and ache settled in at Mile 8 due to the banking curves and inclines… That’s a conditioning issues, though. I went from an 8:15 pace up til Mile 7 to my final average pace of 8:42 just because of pain and having to take more walking breaks than I’d hoped. However, finishing a sub-2 hour half marathon for my first ever and after only being able to run again since late June 2022 has left me feeling really accomplished and proud of the performance I had.

    I highly recommend this race for first timers and experienced half marathoners alike. Vacation Races did an amazing job, and I am really excited to not only run this race again next year, but also plan to sign up for some of their other races around the country over the next year.

    DIFFICULTY
    3
    PRODUCTION
    4
    SCENERY
    5
    SWAG
    5

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    memories1113 FIRST-TIMER '22

    This was my 5th Vacation Race and again it was awesome! The course was very manageable for a slow runner. It ran along the river which was beautiful. The swag … MORE

    This was my 5th Vacation Race and again it was awesome! The course was very manageable for a slow runner. It ran along the river which was beautiful. The swag is awesome and the volunteers and race crew are amazing. Can’t wait for my next Vacation Race!

    DIFFICULTY
    4
    PRODUCTION
    5
    SCENERY
    4
    SWAG
    5

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    acfulmer22 FIRST-TIMER '22

    The Vacation Run Nation Park Series half maratho was a truly amazing experience. I was a first time runner, trained using their training packet, worked hard, and am now obsessed! … MORE

    The Vacation Run Nation Park Series half maratho was a truly amazing experience. I was a first time runner, trained using their training packet, worked hard, and am now obsessed! The people were wonderful, the event was well organized, the scenary amazing. I can’t wait to plan my next half marathon with this organization. I hope to get more involved too!

    DIFFICULTY
    3
    PRODUCTION
    5
    SCENERY
    5
    SWAG
    5

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    rbkellihan REPEAT RUNNER '22

    This year did not disappoint..always love the scenery..rain made my day less painful it seems even though dreaded it..turned out a blessing from the 5K heat. Those banked curves are … MORE

    This year did not disappoint..always love the scenery..rain made my day less painful it seems even though dreaded it..turned out a blessing from the 5K heat. Those banked curves are just a killer….would love to run in reverse..and not finish on all those hills. Still aiming for better time each year.
    Overall..prob do year 3!!
    🏅 are always awesome!
    #teamkickinasphalt
    #blackbeardouble
    #234kellihan

    DIFFICULTY
    5
    PRODUCTION
    5
    SCENERY
    5
    SWAG
    5
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    mirmariebib FIRST-TIMER '22

    The scenery was spectacular! There was such a positive and friendly energy from the event team to the crowd of participants. The event was super organized with lots of stops … MORE

    The scenery was spectacular! There was such a positive and friendly energy from the event team to the crowd of participants. The event was super organized with lots of stops for water, fruit, and facilities. Cool shirt too, but man the medal is frame-worthy. Can not recommend this enough! This was my first race and it’s going to be hard to top!

    DIFFICULTY
    4
    PRODUCTION
    5
    SCENERY
    5
    SWAG
    5

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    wgilber1 REPEAT RUNNER '22

    The medals from these races are astounding. They are the size of your hand! The production crew is positive and encouraging making the entire event fun, even when running 13 … MORE

    The medals from these races are astounding. They are the size of your hand! The production crew is positive and encouraging making the entire event fun, even when running 13 miles in the pouring rain.

    DIFFICULTY
    4
    PRODUCTION
    5
    SCENERY
    4
    SWAG
    5
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    TeLee28 FIRST-TIMER '22

    The scenery was awesome and such a great place to have a race. Loved the neo-caching app to learn more about the area! Had a great time hiking and exploring … MORE

    The scenery was awesome and such a great place to have a race. Loved the neo-caching app to learn more about the area! Had a great time hiking and exploring while in the area!

    DIFFICULTY
    3
    PRODUCTION
    5
    SCENERY
    5
    SWAG
    5
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    klharnett3207 REPEAT RUNNER '22

    Great run! I forgot how horrible humidity is. You will get hot, super hot, even in the mid 60s and 70s. The end of the course is hilly. If you … MORE

    Great run! I forgot how horrible humidity is. You will get hot, super hot, even in the mid 60s and 70s. The end of the course is hilly. If you are like me and train in hills, you’ll love this. They aren’t huge, but if you aren’t used to hills, you will notice. There is an angle to some of the roads for water runoff. If that is hard on your knees and ankles, be prepared. You don’t really notice the elevation gain as much as you do the small hills along the way. I’d run this again!

    DIFFICULTY
    3
    PRODUCTION
    5
    SCENERY
    3
    SWAG
    5
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    darpaia FIRST-TIMER '22

    This is a very doable 1/2 marathon. It was very well organized and there were sufficient aid stations throughout the course. Great energy from the organizers and participants! I highly … MORE

    This is a very doable 1/2 marathon. It was very well organized and there were sufficient aid stations throughout the course. Great energy from the organizers and participants! I highly recommend this race!

    DIFFICULTY
    2
    PRODUCTION
    5
    SCENERY
    4
    SWAG
    5
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    youngbel REPEAT RUNNER '22

    I run trails. However, I love Townsend and the atmosphere of the Smoky Mountains so each September I dig out my road running shoes for this event. Very well organized … MORE

    I run trails. However, I love Townsend and the atmosphere of the Smoky Mountains so each September I dig out my road running shoes for this event. Very well organized and enough ups, downs and flats to keep a good pace.

    DIFFICULTY
    3
    PRODUCTION
    5
    SCENERY
    5
    SWAG
    5

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    liljennmett REPEAT RUNNER '22

    From start to finish the view and scenery is gorgeous. This race does not fall short in any way. Vacation Races organizes amazing races and make them fun! They never … MORE

    From start to finish the view and scenery is gorgeous. This race does not fall short in any way. Vacation Races organizes amazing races and make them fun! They never disappoint!

    DIFFICULTY
    3
    PRODUCTION
    5
    SCENERY
    5
    SWAG
    5

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    eveenglish60 FIRST-TIMER '22

    This was my first Vacation Race weekend. I did the 5k Friday evening and the 1/2 marathon Saturday morning. I was super impressed with the organization and race production. I … MORE

    This was my first Vacation Race weekend. I did the 5k Friday evening and the 1/2 marathon Saturday morning. I was super impressed with the organization and race production. I can’t wait to do another one. The medals were awesome, the staff was top notch, the pacers were wonderful, everything was fantastic.

    DIFFICULTY
    3
    PRODUCTION
    5
    SCENERY
    4
    SWAG
    5

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    SPartin FIRST-TIMER '22

    The name of the race is slightly misleading- you never actually enter the national park. However, the route is still beautiful. I loved the fun facts I got every mile … MORE

    The name of the race is slightly misleading- you never actually enter the national park. However, the route is still beautiful. I loved the fun facts I got every mile regarding the park while using the Race Joy app. Definitely recommend bringing a hand held water bottle so you don’t have to completely stop at the aid stations to refill your reusable cup (too much momentum loss for me). I had a great time and will most likely run it again!

    DIFFICULTY
    2
    PRODUCTION
    5
    SCENERY
    4
    SWAG
    5
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  1. Races
  2. Great Smoky Mountains Half Marathon