Great Smoky Mountains Half & 5K

Escape to the "Peaceful Side of the Smokies" with a gorgeous course through the woods. You couldn't ask for a more beautiful destination!
  • Location: Townsend, TN
  • Date: September 9-10, 2022 
  • Terrain: Paved Road
  • Difficulty: Moderate (2.5/5 stars)

September 9-10, 2022

Townsend, TN


Paved Road


  • Quick Info

  • Travel & Lodging

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  • Register  Now!

Race Info

Half Marathon

Date: September 10, 2022

Start Time: 7:00 am

5K & Fun Run

Date: September 9, 2022

Start Time: 6:30pm

Expo & Bib Pickup

September 9, 2022

10:00am - 5:00pm

Talley Ho Inn*

Townsend, TN

The Course

Weather: 42°–69°F

Strollers allowed? Yes

Disability Friendly? Yes

Dogs allowed? No

*Race day parking & shuttles are all located at this site. There will be shuttles from the Finish line back to this location.

Course Photos

Get a feel for the people and sights that await you out on the course!


Wander Project Final Logo color

Support Our

Park Communities

Fundraise for your chosen race and your registration fee could be waived. All funds go to Wander Project to support efforts in and around the communities that host our events.

Learn more about Wander Project >>

Vacation Races VR Arrowhead Logo Shield
We are matching donations to Charity Bib athletes and direct to Wander Project up to $20,000 until Dec. 31st!

Volunteer with Us!

Our amazing volunteers help runners at the race expo, finish line, merch tent, and beyond! Join us for a 3-4hr shift and earn a $50 or $100 credit towards a future race.

Pro-tip: Volunteer at the expo and run the next day OR ask a friend to volunteer and "gift" you the credit (or use it themselves!)


Know Your Guidelines

- Read your race details! Following event rules helps us to put on safe, sustainable events.

- We are a cup-free event! Please stick to reusable water bottles and avoid bringing disposable items to the race.

- Be courteous towards fellow runners on and off the course.

Join the Community

Vacation Races is honored to have a community of runners who actively support one another! We highly recommend joining one our Facebook groups to get input from other runners, share stories, and learn about the latest updates.

Great Smoky Mountains Race Details

Everything you need to know before the race!

Half Marathon Course Details

Great Smoky Mountains Half Marathon

Date: September 10, 2022
Start: 7:00 am in Maryville, TN
End: 11:00 am in Townsend, TN

This is a 13.1 mi course in Townsend, TN, United States. The route has a total ascent of 727.48 ft and has a maximum elevation of 1,156.23 ft.

This will be an "open course" meaning there will be cars on the road as well as runners. There are sections on main roads where traffic may be heavy. These spots on the course could get a little crowded.

The course will be well marked but it is your responsibility to stay to the right when running with traffic and be courteous and mindful of cars and other runners. DO NOT step off the course into traffic, you will be disqualified. We want you to stay safe. Be courteous.

The course is only slightly uphill so there should be plenty of time for walkers.

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Click the image for an interactive map

gsm h elevation

Time limit
All runners will have 4 hours to finish the race from the time you cross the starting line. That is an 18-minute mile - plenty of time for walkers! That means, if your wave begins at 8:30am, you will have until 12:30pm to complete the race. If at anytime we deem it unsafe and need to pull a runner off the course we would hope for understanding and immediate cooperation. Failure to comply will result in being banned from future events.

Course Records
Our course record holders receive a FREE RACE ENTRY every year that their time remains the course record! The current course record holders are:
Male Overall: Glen Burkhardt  1:09:11 (2019)
Female Overall: Cassidy Heaton 1:21:37 (2021)
Male Masters:
Chris White  1:21:52 (2020)
Female Masters: 
Shanda Warren  1:31:21 (2019)

Aid Stations

Expect about 6 aid stations on the course at around mile 3, 5, 7, 9, 11, and 12. A medic will be stationed typically at the aid station at or near mile 7. Keep in mind, the exact location of each aid station may vary from race to race. Aid stations include toilets, water, Gnarly Hydrate, Honey Stinger gels, basic first aid supplies, and sometimes more. 

All stations are cup-free so plan to bring your own hydration solution or request a free HydraPouch when you register. 

Additional Details

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Race Expo & Bib Pickup

You have a couple of options for picking up your bib and race packet including at the race expo or we can mail it to you. When you register, we ask you to indicate when you plan to pick up your bib. If you plans change, don’t worry about it. We only ask to help us plan in terms of numbers.

Option #1: Race Expo (recommended)
Race expos are held the Friday before the race. They typically run 5-7 hours, allowing you to get your bib at your convenience. 

Option #2: Race Morning (not recommended)
We will have limited race morning packet pickup. We do not recommend waiting until the morning, but if it cannot be avoided - we understand.

Option #3: Shipped Before the Race
There is a cost of $30 if you want to have your bib and shirt mailed to you. We do this as a convenience for runners not wanting to drive to the area early. You can add a shipped bib to your registration until one month before the race by logging into RunSignup, clicking Manage Registration, and Add Ons.

Refunds: Once your package is shipped, you are officially checked in to the race and no longer qualify for our refund, deferment, or transfer options.

Race Expo

Location: Talley Ho Inn (8314 TN-73, Townsend, TN 37882)

Hours: 10 am - 5 pm

We recommend joining us for the race expo! You can pick up your bib packet, check out merchandise, and meet fellow runners. It's a great way to get pumped up for the event! 

Bring Your Own Bag
In our ongoing effort to eliminate waste during our races, our expos are bagless events. We encourage you to BYOB (bring your own bag) to hold your bib, race shirt, and any goodies you pick up from the race expo!

Race Day Schedule

Schedule Breakdown

4:30 am – Finish line parking area opens & bib pickup begins
5:15 am – First shuttle loads for start line
6:00 am – Last shuttle heads to the start line
6:45 am – Runners line up & last call for gear check
6:50 am – National Anthem
7:00 amRACE STARTS! We will have a rolling start for all runners
7:15 am – Sunrise
9:15 am – Overall & Masters awards ceremony

10:00 am – Age-group awards ceremony

Last minute bib pickup, gear check, toilets, hot chocolate and coffee will be at the start line. Please maintain 6 ft. of distance with others around you as you get ready to start your race. Shuttles will arrive approximately every 20 minutes.

Parking & Shuttles

Parking Lots

Location: Talley Ho Inn (8314 TN-73, Townsend, TN 37882)

Opening time: 4:30 am

We will have plenty of parking to accommodate all of our runners. There will be no parking at the start line - runners will need to take the race shuttle or be dropped off at the start line. 


Morning shuttles to the starting line will load and leave from 5:15 - 6:00 am. There will be no shuttles after the race. Runners can park and head to E Lamar Alexander Parkway to meet the shuttles. Check the map below for our race day staging!

To avoid traffic congestion, we strongly encourage runners to arrive early - we will have plenty of coffee and hot chocolate waiting for you at the start line race morning.

great smoky mountains parking

Runner Drop-off

great smoky mountains drop off

Location: Heritage High School (3741 E Lamar Alexander Pkwy, Maryville, TN)

If you are dropping a runner off, please enter the parking area behind the school and drop your runner off in the designated drop-off area. The best approach to the back of the school is via Tuckaleechee Pike. The drop-off is for quick unloading only and is not for parking. To avoid any traffic jams from runners being dropped off, please drop-off your runner and then exit the parking area.


We are welcome spectators back to Great Smoky Mountains Half Marathon this year!

Spectators are welcome to park at Tally Ho Inn and meet their runners at the finish line ONLY - please do not stand or park along the highway. 

We recommend downloading the RaceJoy app to track your runner's progress and send them cheers!

Great Smoky Mountains 5K

shield with a waterfall and text that says great smoky mountains 5K

Great Smoky Mountains 5K & Fun Run

We are excited to be offering a 5K race!


Date: September 9th, 2022

Start Time: 6:30 pm 

Location:  Talley Ho Inn (8314 TN-73, Townsend, TN 37882)

What's the Fun Run? The Fun Run is for those who do not wish to be timed. You run the same course and receive a race shirt and medal, but you will not be able to compete for any awards.

The Race
The 5K course runs mostly on the Townsend Historical Trail. The race will start and finish at the Talley Ho Inn (same place as the expo).

Spectators are welcome at the finish line, but may NOT stand or park along the highway.

A wave start will help us organize the race start line area and prevent overcrowding on the course. There will be 9 waves assigned where runners will line up with the wave according to the colored wave on your bib. These assignments are made based on estimated finish time.

You may seed yourself in a different wave if you choose. We will break the waves into three separate starts to allow vehicle traffic, so please be patient as it takes us a little bit to get everyone started.

We will stage everyone near the expo and then all cross the highway together before the start. We do not police the waves and so if you need to run in a different wave you are free to do so (you don’t need to notify us). But please do not switch waves unless you absolutely NEED to.

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Aid Station
There will be one aid station on the course near the half way point (mile 1.5). The aid station will have water, Gnarly, and bathrooms. Like the half marathon, this race will be cupless!

Bib Pickup
Our expo will be in the same place as the start line. 5K runners will have until 30 minutes before the race to pick up their bibs so that we can get you all lined up and ready to go! 

Course Records
Our course record holders receive a FREE RACE ENTRY every year that their time remains the course record! The current course record holders are: 
Male Overall: Orinthal Striggles  17:12 (2021)
Female Overall: Caitlyn Morgan  20:19 (2020)
Male Masters: 
Orinthal Striggles  17:12 (2021)
Female Masters: 
Julie Stackhouse  20:40 (2021)

Looking for more fun, more of a challenge, and more swag? Sign up for the Black Bear Double (5K + Half)!

Black Bear Double

What is the Black Bear Double?

Up for an extra challenge? Try the Black Bear Double! Run the 5K on Friday evening and the half marathon on Saturday morning and earn extra swag! You'll use the same bib for both events.

When: September 9-10, 2022
Where: Townsend, TN

Black Bear Double


Great Smoky Mountains 5K

Great Smoky Mountains Half Marathon

Two races, one weekend! You'll run both Smokies races within the span of 24 hours. Pretty hard, core right?

With a Black Bear Double registration, you'll earn: 

  • One standard race shirt for the Great Smoky Mountains
  • ONE special Black Bear Double swag item - during registration, you’ll choose between a hat, pint glass, campers mug, t-shirt, tank top, or beach hoodie and you’ll pick it up at the race expo. Additional items can be purchased at the end of the second race. finisher medals - one for each race.
  • Two finisher medals - one for each race
  • One Black Bear Double medal

Check in before the 5K and use this bib for both races.

Black Bear Double logo
Registration & Upgrades

You MUST register for your specific Double not separate races. 

If you register for the races separately, you will need to upgrade into the correct Double in order to receive special swag and medals.

Need to upgrade to a Double?

This is considered an event transfer. You can transfer into a Double via your account on Run Signup.

*if you deferred or transferred into this race your race credit will appear as $0. Contact us at info@vacationraces.com and we'll complete the upgrade for you!

Zero Waste

As nature lovers, we are committed to keeping our events sustainable and managing negative impacts on the environment. Our goal is to send less than one bag of actual “trash” to the landfill after each event. We have managed to meet this goal at events with over 3,000 participants!

Here's how you can help us:


All Vacation Races events are "cup-free". Coolers of water and Gnarly Hydrate (electrolyte drink) are available at all aid stations, but cups will not be provided on course or at the finish line. In order to stay hydrated, we ask you to bring one of the following:

1. Reusable water bottle - you can fill these up at any aid station and at the start/finish

2. Hydrapouch - These handheld cups clip onto your clothes and are our recommended choice! We offer these free when you register, but they will also be available at the expo for $10.

3. Hydration pack - These are refillable backpacks meant for running that allow you to access fluid via a built-in straw.


You can help us reduce trash by sorting disposable items into the appropriate container. 

You’ll notice three containers at our events:

  • Compostables: Organic goods like banana peels and most food items (without the wrapper please!)
  • Recyclables: Paper, aluminum, cardboard, steel, and glass. Please dump out any liquids into the compost bin BEFORE recycling the container.
  • Everything Else: Non-recyclable food wrappers like from used gel packets and styrofoam. Please dump out any food matter BEFORE throwing away the container.

Please avoid putting organic waste and compostable items in the wrong bin. It gets gross to sort through.


When possible, we also use Great Outdoors Composting Portable Toilets which conserve water, eliminates the use of harmful chemicals, and create a nutrient rich soil amenity. It is the best pooping experience you will ever have. To learn more or to have them at your event visit GreatOutdoorsToilets.com or ask the race officials for more information.

Race Results and Photos

Race Results

Visit RunSignup for race results. Runner times are available ~20 minutes after you finish the race. Keep in mind, the results are not official until all runners have crossed the finish line, and have been reviewed by the event director. Because our age group winners are based on chip time, it is possible to cross the finish line before someone else in your age group while still finishing with a slower time than them. 

Top Finisher but missed the awards ceremony? You can request to have your place medal shipped to you!

Got questions about your placement? please email timing@vacationraces.com.

Race Photos

Race photos are offered to our runners for FREE! Race photos are available the Friday following the week of the race via RunSignup. We will send out an email when they're posted to the album. Past race photos are also available via the link, with the exception of our 2016 & 2017 races. These can be accessed for a fee.

Share your experiences with us! 
Be sure to use #GSMhalf in any photos you post from the race or your adventures exploring the park so we can share in the fun with you!

Race Merchandise

Exclusive Great Smoky Mountains Half Marathon merchandise will be available both at the race expo and near the finish line! When possible, we'll have race merch for sale in our online store after the race is over. Please allow time for us to add items online.

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