Overall Rating
Overall Rating (125 Reviews)
4.7
(125 Ratings) 🏆 (125 Reviews)
DIFFICULTY
4
SCENERY
4.6
PRODUCTION
4.8
SWAG
4.4
The Hatfield McCoy Marathon has been ranked one of The Weather Channel’s Toughest Marathons, Road Runner Magazine’s Most Fun Races, RRCA Championship Race, Red Bull’s Must Have Medals and RaceRaves Best Marathon and Half Marathon in West Virginia! Do you need more reasons to run? Upon registration you will be … MORE
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Recent reviews

    CAL55 FIRST-TIMER '24

    This review is for the River Road Half Marathon beginning in Matewan, WV. Flew into CRV, picked up car rental, stayed in Charleston. Note: Do not eat at Captain D's … MORE

    This review is for the River Road Half Marathon beginning in Matewan, WV. Flew into CRV, picked up car rental, stayed in Charleston. Note: Do not eat at Captain D’s Seafood because of terrible and slow service. Explored Charleston and drove down to Matewan on Friday. Stayed at Blue Goose Inn in downtown Matewan, which is a small, historic town known for being the center of the famous Hatfield/McCoy family feud. Drove to Belfry High for packet pickup, then back to the Inn to enjoy the Magnolia Fair right outside. Race start line was directly next to my Inn. First four miles were shaded and easy peasy, mile 5 had muddy trails, mile 6 crossed the swaying bridge. Sun came out the rest of the course, but there was still some moderate shade. Race had great crowd support at aid stations, and had the most water and potties stations I’ve ever seen on a course. Finish line had “Devil Anse” and “Randall McCoy” there for a picturesque high-five finish. Post race had bananas, wet towels, bottled drinks. RD was super friendly and quickly coordinated the shuttle back to Matewan. Race swag was a black tee, drawstring bag, and really cool finisher medal to commemorate the race’s 25th Anniversary . I spent the rest of my time exploring the Hatfield McCoy historical sites. If you are reading this and interested in running the River Road half, stay at the Blue Goose Inn! The owner’s name is Wild Bill and he is super chill. Recently the town has hosted the Magnolia Fair Festival the same weekend as the race, and the fair is directly outside the Blue Goose Inn so it was an unexpected pleasant surprise. I cannot say enough great things about the friendly and helpful race staff and event. I thoroughly enjoyed my time in the area and at the race. I highly recommend the Hatfield McCoy race as the one for West Virginia/Kentucky!

    DIFFICULTY
    3
    PRODUCTION
    5
    SCENERY
    5
    SWAG
    5

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    Tororuns FIRST-TIMER '24

    You gotta do this race & tackle B-berry Mtn! Sure it's tough but do the training & it's worth it! Great organization, volunteers & theme. Killer bling & awards. The … MORE

    You gotta do this race & tackle B-berry Mtn! Sure it’s tough but do the training & it’s worth it! Great organization, volunteers & theme. Killer bling & awards. The town comes out and the weather was fab. Pickle juice & watermelon never tasted better! I wanna repeat too. Be sure to stay in the the local firehouse the night before & join the locals at a spaghetti supper. One of the best I’ve ever done!

    DIFFICULTY
    3
    PRODUCTION
    5
    SCENERY
    5
    SWAG
    5
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    thestudadam FIRST-TIMER '24

    This is easily a 5 shoe race, especially when you consider its size. It sells out a lot of years by the time the race happens. I think this is … MORE

    This is easily a 5 shoe race, especially when you consider its size. It sells out a lot of years by the time the race happens. I think this is one of those races that would sell out in a matter of weeks if it wasn’t so hard to get to.

    I chose this race based on several factors: The primary one being nothing but good reviews on this site (Along with the great race report by raceraves founder Mike on his Blisters Cramps and Heaves blog), and a decided lack of compelling options in West Virginia. Having now run the race myself I think I made a great choice choosing the Hatfield Mccoy Marathon for state #20. This race can also count for Kentucky if you do the full, or the Blackberry Mountain Half, as of 2024 they are no longer offering the “double half” to check off 2 states in one day. If you are traveling from out of state like me there really isn’t a close airport option. I flew in to Cincinnati which was a 3.5 hr drive to my hotel in Pikeville which was still 30 minutes from the race location. You could fly in a little closer, like 1.5 hours away and drive if you are willing to pay a premium for that convenience in the form of more expensive airfare. I was able to convince my best friend to run this race with me for his first marathon which really helped to have a friend to split the long drive with.

    EXPO/PACKET PICK UP:
    This was a pretty bare bones expo in the traditional sense but has several things about it that make it worth your time to spend more time than normal at it. The expo was held at Belfry High School not far from the start/finish in Williamson West Virginia. There was plenty of parking in the school parking lot. The first thing you should do when you arrive is take some pictures with the people dressed as the Hatfield and Mccoy family patriarch’s at a booth leading into the school, they create a new booth every year, this costs you nothing just a fun photo op. Once inside you will be directed to the balcony that circles the Gymnasium where you walk the perimiter and pick up your bib. They had a peg board asking everyone to put a pin on the US map to show where you traveled from. Because of the limited West Virginia options and the quality of this race this race draws and outsized proportion of 50 staters and marathon maniacs/half fanatics. As such you had a map that showed the race drew runners from all over the country, more so then you would expect for a race of this size. Bib pickup was simple and quick, you got a customized race draw bag that also serves as your gear check bag. The race shirt was a T-shirt this year as opposed to a nicer running Tech T that they have used in the past, that being said it looks like they went all out this year spending their money on an amazing finishers medal instead and I think that was a good choice. (See attached pictures). The remaining tiny expo was maybe 3 booths, 2 of them selling local wares. One of them jewelry the other alcohol/moonshine infused jelly and jam. There was also one booth for the charleston marathon. The reason however to stick around this expo for longer is this. Your race entry includes a pasta dinner at the expo. This isn’t anything fancy: spaghetti, salad, roll, cake, gatorade. But considering you get it pretty much for free and due to the rural nature of the area your Italian food carb loading options and extremely limited I highly reccomend that you have dinner at the expo, just make sure you say you are going to do it when you register so they make enough food. The other thing to do at the expo during dinner is watch the Hafield Mccoy history skit/show. Note that this is usually pretty early, like 5 pm. Sadly in 2024 a last minute illness by one of the two main characters meant that it was canceled but you can’t blame the organizers for that.

    Parking/Access: There is no parking at the start line for this race. You park at the finish line and take a small school bus to the start line. It seems like you can park most anywhere in town although I am sure there are some exceptions. Most business lots I saw seemed to have parking still available before and after the race. The shuttle was pretty easy, stand at one of the assigned street corners, get on the bus, ride it 5 minutes up the road and get dropped off at the start.

    T-Shirts/SWAG: The medal for this race was amazing in quality, it is well made, sturdy and VERY heavy (See attached Photo). The medal has a picture of Devil Antz Hatfield and Randall Mccoy on the front on top of two saloon doors that open to reveal the race logo on the inside, two Hatfield Mccoy silhouettes with their frequently used picture of kentucky and west virginia along with a couple of crossed revolvers. Even the ribbon for the medal was top notch, very wide, high quality with the race name and date on one side, and the race motto “No Feudin, Just Runnin” on the other. Maybe this is the new standard that this race has set in terms of swag, maybe this one was extra special for the 25th Anniversary, either way it gets an A+++. The medal 100% reminds me of the race. The marathon medal was huge, the half and 5k medals were smaller versions of the same medal.(See Attached Photos). The race shirt was a T shirt, I prefer a Tech T that I can race in but I do understand that in the long run I will likely get more use and wear out of a T-shirt. As someone who prefers to run in the race shirt to give all of my race pictures a feel unique to that race I was a bit let down. The race bib also deserves a special shout out because it had a unique design with pictures in the back which was very cool.

    Aid Stations: The aid stations were well stocked and plentiful. There were 24!! aid stations on the course. This is by far the most aid stations that I have ever seen during a marathon. When I saw how many there would be I thought it was clearly overkill, however after doing the race in the heat (and this wasn’t even as hot as it had been some years but I found that I appreciated every single one of them. It was a warm 64 degrees this year at the start and in the mid 70’s when i finished and climbed into the 80s for the slower finishers. During a hotter and humid year those aid stations would have been life savers. They did great with this and should keep the high number of stations. Every single aid station had water and Gatorade. There was also an aid station competition going on so many were dressed up and playing music. Many had cold sponges to hand out along with fruit or Gu or even popsicles. I didn’t hear anything about supplies running out at any time during the race. Unfortunately the aid station at mile 15 was not manned although they left the water out to self pour, I kept running as I assume most front of the pack people did but I definitely came to regret not having taken on some liquid later in the race. It was a spot where it meant nearly 4 miles with no water. I was near the front so I was never really in a group, but the number of volunteers was more than enough at each station. The volunteers were really clear about who had water or Gatorade. If I could make one critique it would be to have a few more garbage cans 100 yards after the stations so you could have time to finish your drink before trying to toss your cup.

    Course Scenery/Elevation Difficulty: The course starts in the parking lot of the food city grocery store. The race starts at 7:00am which was a huge help in beating the heat/humidity, in past years it has sometimes been much warmer. I found plenty of room to warm up around the large parking area. They had plenty of outhouses which never had a line and the Food city also let people inside to stay warm or use the bathroom. The start chute was very informal but everybody got in their correct spot and around their correct pacers. The course was definitely a hilly experience. The first about 1.5 miles was run in the middle of the highway before turning onto a smaller side road. The walls of the canyon were sheer walls of rock that went straight up, a very unique landscape for this west coast guy. The next 5-6 miles were mostly flat with a slight uphill next leading the Blackberry Mountain, mile seven climbs nearly 5-600 feet over the course of a mile.
    While this climb is very long and hard the steepness of the grade was never overwhelming. The downhill on the back side was quick but not knee pounding steep. From the bottom of the hill you continue of the road another mile or two before turning onto a slightly busier road that winds to the half way point in West Virginia. You cross a bridge at the 12.5 mile mark then go to the half finishing town making a loop through the town then back accross the bridge into Kentucky and the River Road half of the course.
    The river road half is deceptively hilly. It is almost never flat only about 50% paved. Miles 14-19 were on a combination of dirt roads, mud, gravel and a golf course. The vast majority of this was shaded which helped keep the heat down. At mile 18.5 you cross a wooden swinging suspension bridge.
    This caused an unexpected disruption to my normal running cadence but never felt unsafe, just something to slow down for. Miles 20-26 were more exposed but on paved roads which constantly turned and went up and down slowly allowing their elevation to take its toll. Then the hill at mile 24.
    It is only .3 miles but was very steep, this hill was the first time that I have ever walked in any race I have ever run, but due to the heat and the fact that this isn’t a PR course I allowed myself to power walk up it which was likely a smart call to make sure I could finish without being in distress. At mile 25.5 you get back on the highway where you started, run a quarter mile then cross a bridge back into West Virginia and the finish town. The scenery on this course is honestly beautiful. If you take the time to look around when you run you will really enjoy the views. Crowd support around the course was minimal, but there were lots of aid stations with people cheering you on.

    Race Management: This Race was very well run, especially so for a small- race (~600 finishers for the halves and full). I found their website to be the best source of info, along with facebook. They oddly seem to have two websites, one where you register and one run by the tug valley road runners I’d make sure to be checking both. They also email you a few bits of advice including a race guide and a guide of things to do in the area. Other things to compliment this race on: They had age group awards. Not just age group awards but a finishers moonshine mason jar for every single finisher that comes with a race logo sticker to put on it. If you placed in your age group then they give you a cap to put on your mason jar with the details. They had port-o-potties at the start to use which never seemed to have long lines, perfectly supporting the # of people were there I’m impressed that they got the # seemingly correct. The start area had a bag check area by the start line that was open until the start. The finish line had the Hatfield and Mccoy characters giving finishers high 5’s. They stood there for literally hours taking photoes with people between finishers, and I do mean hours, this race has no time limit and the slowest finishers finished in nearly 11 hours. They also offered cold towels to finishers with the event organizer logos on them as an additional free souvenir. They had pace setters which was impressive for a race this size ranging from 8 minutes to 18 minutes per mile. The finish had some of the usual finish line fare like (oranges, watermelon, water, electrolytes, pickle juice). They have 1 timing mat set up along the marathon course at the half way point, both the halfway point and full had a video set up which you can see after.. They also have some free race Photos which they post on their website which I always love but this comes with a caveat. The finish line photos are free after they get posted after a few weeks. The other photos from the course are practically a crime they are so expensive. In a normal race you might pay $50 for every digital image of you. This one charges $90 for just 10 that you pick. Every race should just increase prices by $5 and make all photoes free, but as stated it does look like the finish line photos will be free for this race as they have been in past years.

    Overall I would say this race is a very good way to check either West Virginia or Kentucky off your 50 state list. I’m normally a half marathon guy, I really only run full marathons to try and complete my 6 start major marathon journey. I’m still glad that I chose to do the full marathon here. There are too many unique and challenging aspects to each half of the course that I would have been disappointed to miss out on either half. This race was extremely hard, I was 26 minutes slower here than I was in a Chicago marathon PR just 18 months earlier but even with that said I would 100% recommend that people do the full marathon here. The people are wonderful and welcome you to their town with open arms. I highly recommend this race.

    DIFFICULTY
    4
    PRODUCTION
    5
    SCENERY
    5
    SWAG
    5
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    SFraz FIRST-TIMER '24

    My 1st time at this race. I ran the BlackBerry Mountain Half Marathon. The volunteers were kind enough to make a gluten free pasta dinner just for me. I stayed … MORE

    My 1st time at this race. I ran the BlackBerry Mountain Half Marathon. The volunteers were kind enough to make a gluten free pasta dinner just for me. I stayed at the Firehouse, which was a super helpful partnership for my racing budget. The shuttles to/from the race start/finish were well organized and very helpful. The water stops were plentiful and well supplied. Any staff I talked to were helpful & friendly. The race route was shaded for a large majority, which I was thankful for! As a horror enthusiast, I really got a kick out of Michael Myers at mile 10! I also really appreciated the cold towel at the finish line. Great race!

    DIFFICULTY
    3
    PRODUCTION
    5
    SCENERY
    3
    SWAG
    4
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    LaurieC FIRST-TIMER '24

    Beautiful course. The volunteers were wonderful. The water stop stocked fully and often. The race organizers did a wonderful job putting on a good race. MORE

    Beautiful course. The volunteers were wonderful. The water stop stocked fully and often. The race organizers did a wonderful job putting on a good race.

    DIFFICULTY
    4
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    5
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    4
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    4
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    joylynn FIRST-TIMER '24

    This race is an extremely well organized race with a beautiful course and a fantastic theme. My only problem was deciding which half to do! I ended up going with … MORE

    This race is an extremely well organized race with a beautiful course and a fantastic theme. My only problem was deciding which half to do! I ended up going with the 1st half (blackberry mountain) and do not regret it at all! There was so much to see on the course and some of the best aid stops I have ever seen.

    DIFFICULTY
    3
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    5
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    5
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    5
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    JenniSeibel FIRST-TIMER '24

    I'm going to start this review by saying the race was worth a 13 hour drive each way! The organizers and volunteers are so kind and take a lot of … MORE

    I’m going to start this review by saying the race was worth a 13 hour drive each way! The organizers and volunteers are so kind and take a lot of pride in the race. The packet pick-up was well-organized and included the pasta dinner. For swag, they had really nice poly blend t-shirts and quality, unique medals. They also had special silver 25th anniversary stickers. The course itself was beautiful and mostly shaded. If you are used to running hills, the main challenge is the BIG hill around mile 6. Running down the other side gives the knees and quads a decent pounding. If you mostly run on flat ground, the steady uphill in the first half will be a really good workout. On course, the aid stations were plentiful with fruit, ice pops, Gatorade, etc. I was handed a cold, wet towel at the finish, which also had a special 25th anniversary design on it…a bonus souvenir. My only suggestion for improvement would be to have a bit more food at the end of the race in Matewan, such as chips or granola bars (they only had fruit). I would love to return and run the River Road Half.

    DIFFICULTY
    3
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    jennyturak FIRST-TIMER '24

    Came to run this race for state 48 to count it as West Virgina as it fell on my birthday this year and it did not disappoint! Loved the beautiful … MORE

    Came to run this race for state 48 to count it as West Virgina as it fell on my birthday this year and it did not disappoint! Loved the beautiful luscious green of the course, the rustic charm, and running over the bridge. Course kept my interest as there was even a trail section to mix it up a bit. A bit hilly, but I’m from Colorado so used to hills. Would like to come back and run again when my legs weren’t so sore from a marathon the weekend before. The aid stations were top notch and had everything from fruit towels, popsicles, Gatorade w ice, pickles, hash browns even etc! Everyone was so friendly and encouraging! Loved the huge medal that opened, the shirt design and the mason jars they gave out at the finish! Such a special touch to have Hatfield and McCoy there at the finish giving out high 5s! Thoroughly enjoyed this race and would recommend!

    DIFFICULTY
    4
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    5
    SCENERY
    5
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    5

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    thestudadam Jun 12, 2024 at 3:31am

    I remember you finishing, your husband was running up and down the finish straight asking everybody to cheer you on and wish you a happy birthday.

    I remember you finishing, your husband was running up and down the finish straight asking everybody to cheer you on and wish you a happy birthday.

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    LauraRoth REPEAT RUNNER '24

    Ran this race last year and came back again so you know I love it (I try not to repeat races, as I am trying to run the 50 states.) … MORE

    Ran this race last year and came back again so you know I love it (I try not to repeat races, as I am trying to run the 50 states.) This is one of my favorite races ever. Aid stations are almost every mile with various food – some have watermelon, popsicles, pickle juice and other goodies. The volunteers are so friendly. The shirt was really great this year as well as the huge medal that opens up – very creative! I’ll be back!

    DIFFICULTY
    4
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    5
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    5
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    racewalker48 REPEAT RUNNER '24

    This race is great! Volunteers, waterstops, race production, and the community are all amazing! It can be a very tough course but the scenery and support make it worth the … MORE

    This race is great! Volunteers, waterstops, race production, and the community are all amazing! It can be a very tough course but the scenery and support make it worth the trip to WV and KY. The finisher medals are always phenomenal.

    DIFFICULTY
    5
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    5
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    dizzygal36 FIRST-TIMER '24

    I’ve done the 5k before and thought I’d try my hand, or feet, on a Half Marathon. I do not regret it. Going in, I knew that whatever my time … MORE

    I’ve done the 5k before and thought I’d try my hand, or feet, on a Half Marathon. I do not regret it.
    Going in, I knew that whatever my time was, I would PR. I had a goal of 3:30 or under. Sadly, I was a little slower. But I absolutely loved the experience.
    I’m local so I’m familiar with the terrain. I trained but the mountain kicked my butt.
    I never grow tired of our beautiful scenery and the hospitality of all the local volunteers. We are second to none.
    Packet pickup was good. The spaghetti dinner was delicious and appreciated. The finisher medal and the swag were great!!
    I’m looking forward to doing the full marathon in 2025!!

    DIFFICULTY
    5
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    5
    SCENERY
    5
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    5

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    lgcincy16 REPEAT RUNNER '24

    This is a fun , race with a challenging yet scenic course. Not many spectators on the course but the folks at the water stops are great. I love that … MORE

    This is a fun , race with a challenging yet scenic course. Not many spectators on the course but the folks at the water stops are great. I love that each returning runner has a ” welcome back” sign out on the course.

    DIFFICULTY
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    momomeme1 FIRST-TIMER '24

    This race was well run. They had numerous water stops with food and Gatorade. The volunteers were excellent and super friendly. The scenery was fantastic. The most difficult part of … MORE

    This race was well run. They had numerous water stops with food and Gatorade. The volunteers were excellent and super friendly. The scenery was fantastic. The most difficult part of the race was climbing blackberry mountain. If you train for it it’s not that difficult though. I’ll definitely do it again!!

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    byersab00 FIRST-TIMER '24

    We couldn’t have asked for better weather for this year. They had shuttles taking us right to the start. There were so many water stations throughout. I never knew watermelon … MORE

    We couldn’t have asked for better weather for this year. They had shuttles taking us right to the start. There were so many water stations throughout. I never knew watermelon was such a good running food until they passed it out around mile 3. The scenery was fun, and I enjoyed learning more about the history on the course. I’m excited to come back next year

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    kcardaras REPEAT RUNNER '24

    This small, but well organized race in the beautiful Appalachian foothills is unique and challenging. Having run nearly 50 distance races, the HMM is one that is so memorable and … MORE

    This small, but well organized race in the beautiful Appalachian foothills is unique and challenging. Having run nearly 50 distance races, the HMM is one that is so memorable and unique to me, and it’s the great people who make it happen. The aid stations were well stocked with tasty treats and cold drinks, first aid, and plenty of friendly hospitality. The medal for the 25th anniversary was spectacular, and the shirt was well designed. They even included a spaghetti dinner at the packet pickup, but there is no expo, per se, so bring your own gear and gels, etc. It was fun to have actors dressed as Devil Anse Hatfield and Randall McCoy for photo ops and high fives at the finish. Not to mention the well-coordinated busing of runners to 2 different start lines came off without a hitch. The history of the Hatfield and McCoy feud and the Battle of Matewan make the trip to the area even more special, and you can see many historical markers along the race route. I can’t recommend this race enough! Just train for those hills!

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    The whole experience from local hospitality with Lisa at the Rectory to Randy at the Coal House (beautiful photography) to representation from the Hatfields and McCoys (thanks Eric for sharing … MORE

    The whole experience from local hospitality with Lisa at the Rectory to Randy at the Coal House (beautiful photography) to representation from the Hatfields and McCoys (thanks Eric for sharing the history of the area) to every single water station (I loved the ducks) to each and every volunteer to the beautiful backdrop of the mountains to all the wonderful memories made. I absolutely loved this marathon and have told my running friends this is truly one for the books.

    When asked which marathon has been your favorite: this one, this one is my favorite!! ❤️❤️

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    monroeb FIRST-TIMER '24

    This was the 10 race this year and by far the best race I have completed. The atmosphere was great, swag from the race was more than expected. This is … MORE

    This was the 10 race this year and by far the best race I have completed. The atmosphere was great, swag from the race was more than expected. This is a great race coming from Knoxville area, the view was incredible.

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    rbfrmrville FIRST-TIMER '24

    If you are looking for a great race, then this is your race. It may be a small race but the support and feeling safe makes it top notch. There … MORE

    If you are looking for a great race, then this is your race. It may be a small race but the support and feeling safe makes it top notch. There are water stops every mle after mile 2/ Besides, the water stops, there is no time limit on this race. This race is very scenic. YOu get to run up and down a mountain, run on a golf course, across two states, across a swinging bridge.

    DIFFICULTY
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    This was the first race I’ve participated in my life. This event was well planned, perfectly executed and enjoyed by many. I plan to begin training for the half marathon … MORE

    This was the first race I’ve participated in my life. This event was well planned, perfectly executed and enjoyed by many. I plan to begin training for the half marathon (or even the full if I can swing it) for next year! Met tons of nice people working the event and tons of super nice runners who were just so supportive.

    DIFFICULTY
    5
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    5

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    The scenery is absolutely beautiful. Nice course with so many beautiful landmarks. The mountain was a challenge that was greatly rewarding. Course has beautiful shady trees, and creeks to help … MORE

    The scenery is absolutely beautiful. Nice course with so many beautiful landmarks. The mountain was a challenge that was greatly rewarding. Course has beautiful shady trees, and creeks to help keep cool. Nearly thought about jumping in the creek, lol.
    Race was very well organized and well staffed. Volunteers are friendly and go above and beyond. Medals were absolutely beautiful and unique, and sizable.

    People were incredibly encouraging.

    I will be doing this race again.

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