More than 800 registered runners to compete in inaugural event
Maryville, Tenn. — More than 800 runners from around the country and locally are set to participate in the inaugural Great Smoky Mountains half marathon presented by Vacation Races, Saturday, Sept. 20. The race begins at 7:30 a.m. near Heritage High School on Old Walland Highway near Tuckaleechee Pike and treks 13 miles south alongside the Little River before finishing at the Visitor’s Center in Townsend.
“It’s a pleasure to have Vacation Races run its race in the Townsend area,” said Blount Partnership Tourism Director Kim Mitchell. “They’ve been very successful with other races around national parks and we anticipate this event to grow with each successive year. The participation has been fantastic and it’s the beginning of another sustainable event for Blount County.”
Spectators are welcome at the start and finish lines. Even though race viewers are not allowed on Old Walland Highway, there are three bridge locations where the runners are visible. The first is at Melrose Station Road near mile two, East Millers Cove Road near mile three and Cameron Road near mile eight.
Registrants can pick up their bibs and gear at the runner’s expo Friday from 1-7 p.m., at Heritage Park (125 Townsend Park Road) in Townsend. Online registration continues through Friday evening at www.greatsmokymountainshalfmarathon.com. There is no on-site registration the day of the race.
Additionally, Olympian Jeff Galloway is conducting a running school workshop from 3-6 p.m., at the runner’s expo. The workshop is designed to help runners better prepare for races both physically and mentally. He covers a variety of topics from nutrition to overcoming mental barriers.
Vacation Races began in 2012 and conducts seven races annually around a different National Park with a goal to get people to visit and enjoy the natural surroundings. Currently, half marathons are held at Zion National Park, the Grand Canyon, the Grand Tetons, Yellowstone, the Rocky Mountains and Lake Powell.