9-11 September 2016
Initially I was supposed to be on a field training exercise this weekend but when it was moved to October I quickly grabbed the opportunity to run the Great Smoky Mountains Half Marathon. It is a Saturday race so we hauled the RV and all the kids to Townsend, Tennessee on Friday. Townsend is considered the peaceful side of the mountains, about 12 miles from Pigeon Forge and all the tourist traps.
I hurried to the race expo shortly after we pulled in to the Big Meadow campground. This race is part of a currently nine race series from Vacation Races with the National Park Service. The goal is to get people coming to the National Parks. The runs don't actually pass through but get people close enough to spend the rest of their weekend enjoying America. They are beautifully organized and are cup less. Runs either bring their own water carrying source is use the hydration pouch you are given at registration. They report producing less than one bag of trash at each aid station which is pretty significant.
I had my pasta in the RV that night so the next morning I had plenty of energy to walk 0.5 mile to the start at one of the Inn's. This was the only snag of the race because we had to be bused to the start 11 miles away. The buses were a bit late but I still had plenty of time to get ready before the gun went off.
Most of the race was on a little utilized road that ran along the river dotted with adorable cabins. At the end of race medal was huge and each finisher got a box full of replenishing snacks for running or hiking. One thing I had never seen before was fruit leather..?
While we waited in line for our free picture with the race sign we got to enjoy some banjo music.
After being replenished with eggs at the RV we went to the park and took a little hike. Not far in to the trail we came across some scat that we were hoping belonged to a bear. Curt got down to use the identification skills he learned in Yellowstone but as it turns out it was probably just from a horse.
By the end of the day I was beat so we had burgers at the RV and brought our TV outside to watch the Bristol Bowl - Tennessee vs. Virginia Tech with all the other people in the park. Mother Nature had other ideas and not long in to the game she forced us all inside. Sunday meant packing up and returning to the real world