Gearing Up for the Great Smoky Mountains Half Marathon
By Jon Hoffman © 2015, All Rights Reserved

Half Marathon in the SmokiesIf you've been looking for a chance to get your own 13.1 sticker, there's no better opportunity than the Great Smoky Mountains Half Marathon on September 12th, 2015. This 13.1-mile run follows a gorgeous, shady course through wooded areas near Great Smoky Mountains National Park. You'll enjoy beautiful views, cool mountain temperatures and subtle inclines. September in the Smokies is one of the best times to visit — the leaves are turning, skies are traditionally clear, and the heat and humidity of summer have taken a hike.

Gentle uphill gradients mean there's no last soul-crushing hill to battle before crossing the finish line. However, if the adrenaline is pumping after the race and you're ready for more, you'll love the new tradition runners started last year.

13.1 Miles + 2

After the race, you can join in the two-mile hike on Chimney Tops Trail on the Newfoundland Gap Road. If you've run 13 miles, you might wonder what the big deal is about going another two. Chimney Tops gains 1,487 feet of elevation in those two short miles. That's a steep climb! When you go the extra two miles you can take a photo at the top with your finishing medal and bib, plus get the notoriety of joining the "Chimney Club." And! You'll get 50% off next year's race registration fee. Last year, runners of all ages made the climb, and their photos are enough to inspire even the most reluctant among us.

Go Cup-Free

The Great Smoky Mountains Half Marathon is cup-free. If you've ever watched a marathon, you probably remember piles of plastic or paper cups lining the entire course. In the beautiful Smoky Mountains, that just won't do! For this race, runners have the option of ordering a HydraPouch with their bib (and can have it shipped so they can train with it). A HydraPouch is a lightweight plastic pouch that attaches to a waistband. Runners can refill their HydraPouches at water stations along the route. Other options include ordering an UltraSpire Race handheld hydration bottle at a 50% discount or bringing your own water bottle.

Beginning runners (and walkers) are welcome. If you're new to half-marathoning, you may be surprised to learn that training programs are quite short. You can go from zero to 13.1 in just three months. However, even if you're behind on that schedule, you can start training now to run half and walk the other. You'll likely find that the camaraderie and throngs of strangers cheering for you push you farther than you ever thought you could go!

Registration is still open. There are discounts for military and options to register as a team. Of course, one of the best parts about this event is that the run only takes about three hours, so there's plenty of time to enjoy the rest of the weekend in the Great Smoky Mountains with thousands of your crazy new friends. What's not to love?

Jon Hoffman is Reservations Manager of Volunteer Cabin Rentals specializing in Smoky Mountain cabins near Gatlinburg and Pigeon Forge, TN. Visit them today at to book cabins for weddings, vacations, reunions and other special events.