- 13.1 miles/Half Marathon, 26.2 miles/Marathon, 50K
- Trail Race
I've tried to do this race for several years but this was the first time my schedule finally cooperated. This is one of the most popular races in the Xterra Georgia race series, and is organized by the fabulous folks at Dirty Spokes Productions. The half marathon is one loop of mostly rolling, single track mountain bike trails around Fort Yargo State Park. The full is 2 loops. I'm not a big fan of loop courses but it's a big enough course to not feel repetitive. My legs were feeling quite heavy from lots of long training runs lately, so I was definitely feeling a exhausted and unmotivated going into the second lap. However, I was lucky to fall into pace with another runner and we chatted most of the second lap, making it seem considerably faster and easier than the first time around.
- Easy parking access, with plenty of port-o-potties and a few permanent park restrooms available.
- Coffee and some other goodies at the starth
- Friendly volunteers and easy check-in; swag bag includes a nice long-sleeve tech shirt
- Rolling, non-technical course; great if you're considering a first trail half or full marathon
- Medals; most trail races don't give medals so if you're into that sort of thing you'll be happier at an Xterra event
- Bag lunch; marathoners get a bag lunch when they cross the finish with PB&J, cookies, chocolate, and pringles. Nice combination of salty sweet for after a race and really convenient for my drive home.
- Start waves; the full marathon starts at 8 with the half starting at 8:30. I get this is supposed to spread participants out but many of the elite half runners just run the slower marathoners over when they caught up. I had to move off the trail and stop running several times to let them pass.
- Aid stations; trail races typically have awesome aid stations with a great food/snack selection. This race had 3 aid stations on course, only 1 with sports drink and gels. The other 2 were just water. If you're used to the epic aid station fare of other trail races, you'll be very disappointed here. With that being said, carrying your own nutrition is always recommended anyway.
Overall: I really liked this race and will plan to add it to my yearly rotation, although I'll probably due the half in the future in order to avoid another 2 loop course. I think the management was great, with great volunteers, but it could definitely use some aid station upgrades. Give it a shot if you want an easy access trail half or full marathon in the Atlanta area.