To Hill, or Not To Hill – The Half Marathon Dilemma

Guest blogger: Erica Haynes

September has arrived and the City of Plano will host their biggest event of the year, the InTouch Credit Union Plano Balloon Festival. The festival will run from Friday September 19 through Sunday the 21. This event does a great job of offering a source of fun and entertainment for everyone. There’s food, hot air balloons, concerts, kid areas and much more, so how could this weekend possibly get better? End it with a half marathon of course!

About a year and half ago I started running, and very shortly after I wanted to do a half marathon. I always had my mind set on the Plano Balloon Festival Half Marathon, however I was terrified after someone mentioned that the course was very hilly. At the time, I would consider myself to be an infant runner, I did not understand that it’s next to impossible to find a flat half marathon and hills make you a better runner. Fast forward a year and I’m back at the dilemma again of do I attempt to battle the hills?

Of course I want battle the hills, but I need to at least drive the course to get some sort of an idea of the actual elevations. What one person considers hilly, another will call flat so it’s best to drive a course if possible to get your own feeling about the course. I set out in my car and drove what I could of the course. Yes, I saw two hills that made me question why I would run this race but then I realized something important. Two hills over 13.1 miles is a pretty good ratio, and the view the hills offers are absolutely amazing. The drive around the course was peaceful, and I can only imagine what it would be like to actually run it.

Finisher Medal

The beautiful parks, trees, clear view of the sky, the neighborhood, and the small lake eased any nervousness I had about the course. I strongly believe this is the ideal local half marathon to run. Not only does the course offer scenery you can’t get while sitting in a car, the swag is amazing. Each half marathoner will get a technical shirt, VIP parking pass, catered breakfast (yum), custom finisher’s medal, and two tickets to the festival.

I look forward to Sunday, September 21 when I’m standing at the starting line watching the balloons float up and away in the sky. I’m excited for the sound of running a race with other runners by my side supporting me, and me doing the same for them along a beautiful course. The medal, which is the most important part to some, will be the greatest and most priceless achievement. It is the concrete symbol of accomplishment that I hope to be wearing soon. Register online and join me at the epic Plano Balloon Festival Half Marathon adventure.

Honors Show Plano Is The Balloon Capital of Texas

This summer the Plano Balloon Festival, Inc. received an incredible list of honors during the marketing awards competition at the annual Texas Festivals and Events Association (TFEA) Conference in Austin, Texas. The awards given were for marketing materials designed for the event last year that was themed “Paint the Skies.”

More than 430 entries were submitted across this great State of Texas and we are so proud to have been recognized in multiple categories for our marketing efforts. The 1st Place honors included: Event Website, Best Promo Brochure, Best Misc Printed Material, Best Event Photograph, and Best Other Merchandise. The 2nd place honors included: Best Event Poster, Best Event T-Shirt Design, and Best Hat. The 3rd place honor was for Best T-Shirt Design.

This year the InTouch Credit Union Plano Balloon Festival includes a new theme “Alive with Color” to be held September 19-21, 2014 at Oak Point Park in Plano, TX. Additional details and the schedule of events for the festival are available here:

Read the full press release published via PR Newswire Services on July 28, 2014: “Plano Balloon Festival, Inc. Receives Texas Marketing Awards”

Five Winning Photos “Alive With Color”

The InTouch Credit Union Plano Balloon Festival & Run held its first annual photo contest this summer and the judging concluded with five winning photographs. The contest was co-sponsored by AlleeOops Photography, owned by award-winning photographer, Janelle Twyford-Sylvis, who also serves as a member on the Plano Balloon Festival Inc. Board of Directors.

“AlleeOops Photography is proud to be a part of this new element of the festival. The winning photos reflect different aspects of ballooning and the emotions we all experience when we see them take flight,” said Janelle Twyford-Sylvis.

Adult (18 and over) professional and amateur photographers from across the nation submitted digital entries online through The panel of judges convened at Corner Wines in Plano to vote for the top images in each category and the following winners were selected:

Most Creative – Amy Leone

Best Technical – Kelsey Kruzich

Best Elemental – Bre Fitzgerald

Best Aerial – Tayla Arbisser

Best of Show – Cece Liekar

The winning photographs will be printed and mounted by BWC Imaging, used for a touring photo exhibit, and on display September 19-21, 2014 at the InTouch Credit Union Plano Balloon Festival & Run.

Celebrating more than 35 years as a community non-profit, the Plano Balloon Festival, Inc. anticipates that thousands of new pictures will be captured this year by attendees. Photographers are invited to participate next year in the 2015 photo contest that will include new categories for additional age groups (17 and younger). The schedule of events for the festival may be found on the website:
Social tags

Twitter: @planoballoon

Instagram: #planoballoon
About Plano Balloon Festival, Inc.

The Plano Balloon Festival, Inc. is a non-profit 501c3 organized in 1987 for the purpose of staging a premier community-based and family-oriented hot air balloon event, offering other local non-profits volunteer opportunities within the Festival operations. The Plano Balloon Festival, Inc. makes a direct impact on the Collin County community by dispersing funds to participating non-profit agencies and has donated more than $2.5 million since inception.


Plano Balloon Festival Photo Contest

Professional and amateur photographers from across the nation have an opportunity to participate in the 2014 Inaugural InTouch Credit Union Plano Balloon Festival photo contest sponsored by the Plano Balloon Festival, Inc. and AlleeOops Photography. Media is limited to photography.


Digital photos must be submitted online through CaFE no later than July 15, 2014 along with the $28.00 fee for one entry. The two entry fee is $35.00. Entrants agree to enter their images via digital transmission at a maximum of 4000 pixels on the longest edge, 300 dpi.


Judging will take place on July 17, 2014 and winner notification will be no later than July 21, 2014. Winning images will be printed and mounted by BWC Imaging. These prints will be used for a touring photo exhibit and promotion of the event. The top five winning photographs will be on display at the festival September 19-21, 2014.


Entrants grant Plano Balloon Festival, Inc. the license to promote the festival using their photos.

Five Categories:

1) Under 18 (17 and younger) – Overall for Age Group

2) Under 18 (17 and younger) – Most Creative or Unusual in this Age Group

3) Adult (18 and older) – Overall for Age Group

4) Adult (18 and older) – Most Creative or Unusual in this Age Group

5) Overall Plano Balloon Festival Photo Contest Winner

For additional questions contact:

Janelle Twyford-Silvis: Photo Contest Coordinator 972-679-5742

Jo Via: Festival Executive Director 972-867-7566