Overall Rating
Overall Rating (197 Reviews)
4.6
(197 Ratings)  (197 Reviews)
DIFFICULTY
2.9
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
Local Historical Weather (Sep 06):
  2023 2022 2021 2020 2019
 
H (°F)  87  85  82  83  88
L (°F)  67  71  67  56  69
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Recent reviews

    I enjoyed the race, views and serenity of the race and the location. This was my first vacation race and did wished they would have had a couple of more … MORE

    I enjoyed the race, views and serenity of the race and the location. This was my first vacation race and did wished they would have had a couple of more vendors available during the expo. Also, I wished I would have stayed a little longer to enjoy the Smoky Mountains a little more.

    DIFFICULTY
    2
    PRODUCTION
    5
    SCENERY
    4
    SWAG
    4

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    cfconwayiii FIRST-TIMER '23

    I highly recommend this race and all Vacation races. I would definitely run this race again! Staff and volunteers are the best that there is in this business Pre race … MORE

    I highly recommend this race and all Vacation races. I would definitely run this race again!
    Staff and volunteers are the best that there is in this business
    Pre race communication was excellent
    Expo/packet pick up is super easy and they have everything that you need or want
    They had a s’mores station at packet pick up
    Course was not to difficult and was very scenic
    It was very, very humid on race day
    The area and the park was very beautiful
    Plenty of restaurants and places to stay in Townsend
    Plenty of aid stations
    Post race snacks were good
    Swag was awesome with a fantastic medal and cool T-shirt and if you do the double with the 5K the night before, you get 3 total medals

    DIFFICULTY
    3
    PRODUCTION
    5
    SCENERY
    5
    SWAG
    5

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    katefaheyruns FIRST-TIMER '23

    This course is easy and goes past some really pretty houses! I loved looking at all of them as I ran past. The start of the course needs some work. … MORE

    This course is easy and goes past some really pretty houses! I loved looking at all of them as I ran past.

    The start of the course needs some work. I understand that the previous course was worse but I’ve never had such a long wave start. There were easily 7-10 minutes in between waves and being stuck on the other side of the highway from my car/stuff sucked! I was wearing a rain jacket and left my headphones in the car because it was raining when we crossed the highway, but by the time my wave started running it had stopped raining and was sunny and I really wished I could put my rain jacket back in the car and grab my headphones. I wish VR would figure out a better way to start the race.

    DIFFICULTY
    1
    PRODUCTION
    2
    SCENERY
    4
    SWAG
    5
    My Media

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    katefaheyruns FIRST-TIMER '23

    This course had a beautiful course and race production did a great job! Plenty of aid stations and really good organization. The weather in TN was perfect (fifty-sixty degrees and … MORE

    This course had a beautiful course and race production did a great job! Plenty of aid stations and really good organization. The weather in TN was perfect (fifty-sixty degrees and cloudy) and the course was fairly easy with some rolling hills.

    Townsend was a great place to spend a weekend and I would recommend this race to friends (and I do!) I might even do it again next year.

    DIFFICULTY
    3
    PRODUCTION
    5
    SCENERY
    5
    SWAG
    5
    My Media

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    setstall FIRST-TIMER '23

    This was a well organized event. Bib pick up and parking is smooth. You park at the finish line and shuttles take you to the start line. Lots of port … MORE

    This was a well organized event. Bib pick up and parking is smooth. You park at the finish line and shuttles take you to the start line. Lots of port a potties, coffee, bananas and hot chocolate at the start line. The run itself travels down scenic back roads next to a small river, allowing you to appreciate the nearby mountains and rolling hills. The course felt relatively flat, with some gentle ups and downs. Plenty of aid stations along the way. The final couple of miles is less scenic, but travels through Townsend next to the highway along a sidewalk and bike path. Townsend is a cute town to explore, with cafes and restaurants, right outside of the entrance to the national park. I would definitely do this race again

    DIFFICULTY
    3
    PRODUCTION
    5
    SCENERY
    4
    SWAG
    5

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    AliUK FIRST-TIMER '23

    From packet pickup to the finish line l, Vacation Races put in a great race. Whilst this is rated as one of their harder races as it is all up … MORE

    From packet pickup to the finish line l, Vacation Races put in a great race. Whilst this is rated as one of their harder races as it is all up hill – it is gentle in most places and I noticed the downs more than the ups. You all get shuttled to the start line and run back to your cars. Whilst the roads aren’t shut down, they are light on traffic and it caused no issues. A lot of the run was on roads next to the river and was quite pretty. This was a well attended race and as such I was never alone out on course.
    This was my 4th VR but the first at this location. I would definitely run it again.

    DIFFICULTY
    3
    PRODUCTION
    5
    SCENERY
    4
    SWAG
    5

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    cmpress07 FIRST-TIMER '23

    The expo was a little difficult at the start as I was one of the first people to arrive right after 10 and there were no signs to direct parking … MORE

    The expo was a little difficult at the start as I was one of the first people to arrive right after 10 and there were no signs to direct parking which caused some confusion. I noticed great signage on the way out.

    At check in my bib was one of the ones that did not get printed so I had to wait about 30 min until they arrived. There were vendors to pass the time, but I had hoped to check in quickly to make it to another activity. When the bibs finally came I was given a bib that contained someone else’s info that had to be marked through. At least the staff at the tables were understanding and provided me with the appropriate items. I missed the socks at this point.

    There was a downpour right before the 5k which actually cooled things off a bit. The course itself was fine however it crossed a street in one part and there was an issue with making sure the road was clear between each wave so there was an abnormally extended delay between each wave. If you were not at the very front the you could wait at least 30-45 min to start. It was also not arranged in corrals so walkers and runners were mixed together. Because of the delayed starts I finished up about and hour later than predicted.

    This mattered because the 5k is an evening race. Townsend is a small town with limited food options and most close relatively early so finishing late to then find several places closed, closing, or out of items was frustrating. Even Pizza Hut stopped taking orders 2 hrs before closing. That being said, plan ahead to get food so you can get to bed at a reasonable time if you’re doing the half the next morning.

    The half was well organized. It was an early morning, but there was plenty of parking and shuttles to the start line. Corrals were labeled and waves went off appropriately. The course was through tree lined roads and along some streams/rivers which was nice, but it wasn’t the most scenic run they’ve held. The weather was perfect, and the rolling hills were not bad. My only issue with the course was that the roads in the middle part of the course sloped pretty significantly which was incredibly painful on the joints. Running at the top or bottom of the lane was not any better. We finally transitioned to a paved trail which was much better. No issues with crossing traffic though. There were a few cars that passed in the opposite lane but did not feel excessive.

    The finish line was well energetic and well organized.

    Overall this was a good run and I’m glad I did it.

    Bonus is that it’s super close to the National park making it easy to explore.

    DIFFICULTY
    3
    PRODUCTION
    4
    SCENERY
    3
    SWAG
    5

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    dondon856 FIRST-TIMER '23

    The race was fun, and challenging. Everybody is very supportive, the scenery was beautiful & they provided a lot of water stations/fruit stations and plenty of replenishment after. 10/10 recommend … MORE

    The race was fun, and challenging. Everybody is very supportive, the scenery was beautiful & they provided a lot of water stations/fruit stations and plenty of replenishment after. 10/10 recommend and would do it again!

    DIFFICULTY
    4
    PRODUCTION
    5
    SCENERY
    5
    SWAG
    5

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    LaurenP REPEAT RUNNER '23

    Being quite a while since I did a distance race, I was nervous about not being prepared after I saw the elevation gain of over 700 feet in the course … MORE

    Being quite a while since I did a distance race, I was nervous about not being prepared after I saw the elevation gain of over 700 feet in the course description. (I’m 65) It turned out not as bad as I thought. The scenery was mostly woods and a creek, (I’ve done more scenic races than this) the course was quite difficult on the banked portions of the road between 7th and 9th miles. (That is the reason some of us ran on the upper part of the road outside of the designated lane, because it would’ve destroyed my hips/knees/ankles to run two miles on banked roads.) The last two miles being uphill on a concrete sidewalk was not nice for someone older like me. The race organization: phenomenal! They thought of everything that would make it a good experience. I did a decent time for someone my age, so of course, I thought it was a good race & nice place for a mini-vacation.

    DIFFICULTY
    4
    PRODUCTION
    5
    SCENERY
    3
    SWAG
    5

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    aaronsatkoski FIRST-TIMER '23

    The race was flat, some sections were hilly, and you run at an incline for awhile on most turns especially between miles 5 and 8. This can be annoying, but … MORE

    The race was flat, some sections were hilly, and you run at an incline for awhile on most turns especially between miles 5 and 8. This can be annoying, but other than that the race slowly gets you as you go on. I loved it and cannot wait to do another one!!

    DIFFICULTY
    3
    PRODUCTION
    3
    SCENERY
    5
    SWAG
    5

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    diverdude0075 REPEAT RUNNER '23

    This is my second time doing the half in the Smokey Mountains. Vacation Races always does a great job. The scenery here is amazing and at the same time gives … MORE

    This is my second time doing the half in the Smokey Mountains. Vacation Races always does a great job. The scenery here is amazing and at the same time gives me a sense of calm while running asking the river and unique houses.

    I took 5-6 minutes off last years time which was nice. This course has some small but steep climbs but I didn’t find them to be too bad. The weather was foggy most of the run. It did burn off after a few hours.

    I may do this every year if the wife is up for it. We don’t live too far away.

    DIFFICULTY
    3
    PRODUCTION
    5
    SCENERY
    5
    SWAG
    5

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    kamb88 FIRST-TIMER '23

    Overall this was a fun race and I can’t wait to do it again which is saying a lot since my headphones died at mile 2 and I ran in … MORE

    Overall this was a fun race and I can’t wait to do it again which is saying a lot since my headphones died at mile 2 and I ran in silence! It was a little annoying that there wasn’t traffic control on the route, a lot of runners kept getting into the left lanes even though they told us not to. I was worried about there being a back log at the water station since there wasn’t cups but I never had to wait for water! The volunteers were amazing!

    It was pretty hilly but not awful. The hardest part was where the roads sloped. Next time I’m not going to worry so much about my pace and just appreciate the scenery.

    DIFFICULTY
    4
    PRODUCTION
    4
    SCENERY
    5
    SWAG
    5

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    buiesabine REPEAT RUNNER '23

    This is such a cute town to run in . It would have been perfect if it would not had rained so hard just before the race. I wish they … MORE

    This is such a cute town to run in . It would have been perfect if it would not had rained so hard just before the race. I wish they would have called the waves to the start line but maybe they did and I did not heard it . The standing water in the tunnel was a bit annoying because I had to slow down but that was nobody’s fault but the weather gods lol. Overall I totally would do it again next year.

    DIFFICULTY
    2
    PRODUCTION
    4
    SCENERY
    4
    SWAG
    5

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    courtneylandt FIRST-TIMER '23

    I ran the black bear double and loved every moment of both races! Legit the most people I have seen running in either race but the event went off without … MORE

    I ran the black bear double and loved every moment of both races! Legit the most people I have seen running in either race but the event went off without a hitch! I’m used to the Smokies and their amazing scenery but being up running as the sun is coming up with those views makes running 13.1 miles feel easy! See you next year Vacation Races!!

    DIFFICULTY
    3
    PRODUCTION
    4
    SCENERY
    4
    SWAG
    4

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    ilia.ayz FIRST-TIMER '23

    This was my first VR. I volunteered the day before in the rain and it was a cool experience. Logistics were super easy and smooth. We gor great weather relatively … MORE

    This was my first VR. I volunteered the day before in the rain and it was a cool experience. Logistics were super easy and smooth. We gor great weather relatively to the area and time of the year – 60’s and foggy almost the entire race. The course itself was pretty scenic during miles 2-9 along the river and the elevation was not as bad as advertised – don’t let the course elevation map scare you. Only issue is that the the first mile was short and the course never corrected itself so overall it was .1 short (confirmed with other runners). Other than that no complaints, all the runners were super friendly and I PR’d! Recommended.

    DIFFICULTY
    2
    PRODUCTION
    5
    SCENERY
    3
    SWAG
    5

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    First time racing this course. The volunteers were so helpful! I loved the way the aid stations were set up. I don’t like to carry a water bottle. They provided … MORE

    First time racing this course. The volunteers were so helpful! I loved the way the aid stations were set up. I don’t like to carry a water bottle. They provided a reusable cup and I was able to refill cup with easy. Super nice medal!! I would do this again!

    DIFFICULTY
    3
    PRODUCTION
    5
    SCENERY
    5
    SWAG
    5
    My Media

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    jhagengr FIRST-TIMER '23

    Definitely was worth the travel! The fog was stunning, the temperature was perfect, the snacks were great, and all the runners were in good spirits. The race was organized well. MORE

    Definitely was worth the travel! The fog was stunning, the temperature was perfect, the snacks were great, and all the runners were in good spirits. The race was organized well.

    DIFFICULTY
    2
    PRODUCTION
    5
    SCENERY
    3
    SWAG
    3
    My Media

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    bfarrqe FIRST-TIMER '23

    Being my first Vacation Race I was very pleased with how the race operated and how quickly bib check in was. The volunteers were nice and everything was explained in … MORE

    Being my first Vacation Race I was very pleased with how the race operated and how quickly bib check in was. The volunteers were nice and everything was explained in great detail prior to arrival. The location was easy to find and great location with nearby local shops. I did the 5k and half marathon and both operations went smooth. We had to wait for the 5k but VR kept us in the loop on why there was a wait.

    Transport to the half marathon start was great and parking was very easy to get in and out. The race swag was great and I loved all the merchandise! I’m already planning on next years VR!!

    DIFFICULTY
    3
    PRODUCTION
    5
    SCENERY
    4
    SWAG
    5

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    chtaylorlmhc FIRST-TIMER '23

    The organizers are working on their start navigating the open road course in a small town, cute town to run through, wide space back and everyone is so friendly and … MORE

    The organizers are working on their start navigating the open road course in a small town, cute town to run through, wide space back and everyone is so friendly and supportive.

    DIFFICULTY
    2
    PRODUCTION
    4
    SCENERY
    3
    SWAG
    5

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    Daisy FIRST-TIMER '23

    The cambers were terrible. It was road not trail but those are the only negatives. I live at the coast so was concerned about the hills and “altitude “ but … MORE

    The cambers were terrible. It was road not trail but those are the only negatives. I live at the coast so was concerned about the hills and “altitude “ but they were of little consequence after training on sea sand and including some backward running. Thankfully. Highly recommend the race.

    DIFFICULTY
    3
    PRODUCTION
    5
    SCENERY
    5
    SWAG
    3

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  1. Races
  2. Great Smoky Mountains Half Marathon