Guest Review: Harpeth Hills Flying Monkey Marathon

This is a guest review from fellow Anderson runner Wray Jean Cornwell. She and friend Kathy recently completed the Harpeth Hills Flying Monkey Marathon. The race site says “not fast. not flat. not certified. flying monkey attacks.” The race is near Nashville, TN. Thanks Wray Jean for the review!

Pre-Race Thoughts

At packet pick-up we got two race shirts. One long sleeve tech, tan with brown sleeves made by Patagonia. A performance base layer, $38 retail. Then we got a cotton short sleeve one, tan with a picture of a stick figure runner on it, with only one leg and one arm. There are two monkeys flying overhead with is body parts. The packet of course had a Monkey sticker.

We decided to drive the course. We hit the wrong park first. Why have two park next door to each other with very similar names?

We stopped a mountain biker and asked if this was Percy Warner park…no, this is Edwin Warner Park…..we mentioned the marathon and he told us it’s the next park down the road. He also said, “Good Luck with that one”……whoops, that didn’t sound very positive.

So…on we go to the next park….. Well, we quickly find out what his comment was all about. Talk about “hills”….yep there’s one right after another one….with downhills stuck in there….and very, very few flats.

We come upon a runner name Johnny…..and talk to him and ask all the questions about surviving this marathon…..he continues talking to us all the way up and around a hill……doesn’t miss a beat or lose his breathing. He’s ask our PR time…and then says add 30 to 40 minutes more. That would put us around 5:30 or so. We laugh out loud….. We talk a good five minutes or so…..very nice guy.

Race Day

Very foggy morning…..very foggy. Good thing we are only 10 minutes away from the race and that we had been there before. So…we knew what we were looking for in the fog. Weather conditions 41 at start high of the day lower 60’s, foggy at the start.

The first .3 and the last .3 are cross country. It was runable….. I hate CC running. Just don’t do well…, I’m glad that this is short and sweet.

The course was amazing….just down right beautiful…..the changing of the leaves…..the rock formations on the sides of the hills……the winding/twisting uphills/downhills…..just a wonderful place to run. The sun shining in the trees here and there….no wind to speak of…the fog was even beautiful. Very little flats …..we ran most of the rollers and walked when the hills got a little hard. Which didn’t take very long…. Legs were showing signs of wear by the halfway mark……we knew it was going to be pure survival to finish this.

18 aid stations….one station with three porta johns…. Aid stations had plenty of stuff to drink, some had pretzels/orange slices… had clif blocks….we hit some aids stations twice.

We did the first 10 miles in 2 hours….. mile 15 was around 3 hours….. Our goal was to finish in 6 hours.

I hit the wall around mile 17, 18. I remember doing this…but Kathy said it differently. On the way home we were talking. She said that when I hit that wall and just stopped walking….in her mind she thought “crap”….she can’t stop now… I can’t go on ….she’s done….what am I going to do? How am I going to pull the both of us through this.

Well, I remember stopping for a moment…than I just started back running….and telling myself that we can do this…. walk/run…. walk/run….

The downhills were brutal….the hills were painful. My butt hurt/my feet hurt/my hammies hurt/my quads hurt……just keep going forward.

For me the worse time is between 14 and 18 miles. You just have so much further to go…you can’t get the miles in perspective….but once you get to 6 miles, 5 miles….you know you can do it….you start thinking about where you run and your 5 mile, 3 mile course….and you just start clipping those miles away….

The last few miles were a test of faith. Starting to run again was slow…but once you got going it felt ok….just it didn’t last that long before another hill….or a downhill that was very painful.. I remember wishing for a hill when even running some flatter areas got to be too long….and the pain would start hurting pretty badly…at that point. I wanted a hill so I could walk!!!

Our last mile…we walked some areas that we could have ran…we were over it by then. And two girls passed us. They had went out too fast or whatever…we didn’t see them in the beginning of the race…than at about 9 miles to go..there they were. We passed them and stayed ahead until that last mile area. One of the girls, had a great monkey call that she did upon arriving at every aid station… was great. We’d hear it from time to time before passing them…and would think, what is that?? Can it be a real monkey???

So….we come up to the last .3 miles. The girls pass us….it’s ok. Really….we are ok with it. We can see the finish line below us…..we take off from there.

Running side by side around the pine tree and down the hill (little hill)…..I feel great. Legs aren’t hurting now….I’m almost done. Woohoo, we both keep picking up our pace….side by side….we hit the finish line….DONE!!!!

5:32 was our time….extremely pleased. Never would have expected doing under 6 hours.


What a run….it truly was an awesome day for a great run…..and I was so HAPPY that it was over. Just wanted to get off my feet and take my shoes off.

At the end….there were homemade goodies of all kinds….and door prizes, tons of them.

Awards were shortly after we arrived…..the winners also got a stuffed monkey of some kind.

Kathy and I both got a door prize, within the first 10 to 15 names called. Each of us took the race poster…it’s very cool. There was bags/water bottles/socks/gloves/hats/wine/energy powder/sticker/3 pair of Fila shoes and a few other things to choose from….. and yes, we both choose the poster.

Kathy did an amazing job today, she held on and pulled me through some tough times. It was great running with my best friend. I’m even more happy that she didn’t quit at some point. I know she truly thought about doing that. I’m so glad that she didn’t. I would have finished without her, but it would have taken me an hour longer for sure. Thanks girl!!

So everyone….if you don’t mind a “few hills”, this is the perfect race to do. Totally a “must do” marathon, great race director, plenty of good humor and great freebies.

Thanks Wray Jean!! Don’t forget to send me race reports if you’d like them posted!

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7 thoughts on “Guest Review: Harpeth Hills Flying Monkey Marathon

  1. Trent

    Hey, glad y'all had a good time and survived the monkeys and the hills! Recover well and thanks for coming down. Thank you as well for your kind words.

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