Posted by Leif Palmer in Smoky Mountains
If your running shoes have gathered some dust over the winter, now is the time to lace them up and start training, because the Great Smoky Mountains Half Marathon is coming up this fall. Combining your love of nature and passion for running, this one-of-a-kind event is definitely worth the trip.
As part of the Vacation Races National Park Half-Marathon Series, the Great Smoky Mountains Half Marathon promises gorgeous scenery, plenty of fresh air, and lots more for the family to see and do beyond race day.
The route takes you on a scenic run along the Little River, where you'll be surrounded by the wildlife that makes this part of Tennessee famous. Stunning late-summer greenery and wildflowers line the roadways, making for one of the most beautiful half-marathons you'll likely ever participate in.
Keeping the area pristine for future generations is important to everyone, so race organizers have instituted a cup-free policy. Aid stations will feature water and sport drink dispensers specifically designed to refill the environmentally friendly hydrapouch, which runners will carry with them. If you don't have your own, you'll be provided a hydrapouch in your race packet. Cups will be available for emergency use only.
While you won't be running inside the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, you are encouraged to visit the park for two unique events: the Chimney Club and the Great Smoky Mountains Trifecta.
The Chimney Club is an invitation to the hard-core athletes. The Chimney Tops Trail is among the most popular hiking trails in the park, as well as one of the most difficult. Less than two miles from start to finish, it requires a 960-foot climb to the summit, where you'll be greeted with some of the finest views in Tennessee. It's not for everyone, but if you make it to the top, be sure to snap a picture of you in your racing bib, and you'll land a featured spot on the race website.
The Great Smoky Mountains Trifecta is a little tamer. Runners who visit Cade's Cove, Laurel Falls, and Clingmans Dome and submit photographic proof will receive a 20% discount on next year's race fees. Not only that, but you'll get to take in the stunning scenery and get to know the wildlife of the Smokies as well.
Not up for the full run? Don't let that stop you from enjoying the day. With more than three hours from start to finish, you'll have plenty of time to complete the course, even if you choose to walk much of the route. And with the gorgeous scenery along the way, it will be nice to take a little more time to savor the view.
In addition, you'll find lots of activities for the family to enjoy while you're in the area. World-class live comedy and musical theater, Dolly Parton's famous amusement park, as well as entertaining and educational museums help make Tennessee a family favorite. So lace up those running shoes and join the fun at the Great Smoky Mountains Half Marathon this September 14, but plan to stay a while, too. You'll love everything else the area has to offer.
About Leif Palmer
Leif Palmer loves residing in the Smoky Mountains. He is an avid outdoorsman: rowing for exercise on the lake, trail hiking, and free climbing rocks in the mountains. He indulges his arty side by periodically beating up pieces of marble by sculpting. He is always frustrated by his inability to sink long putts, and hates his curly hair (but his wife loves it). Leif has been known to muster enough courage to change a diaper, and hopes his son will become a chip off the old block.