This is my second year completing the Yeti Snakebite 50k. It was my first ultra distance event last year. Running an ultra in August, in GA, may sound like a bad idea but let's face it, running an ultra distance at any time of year is difficult. This year the difficulty wasn't with the heat, but with the rain pushed up from Tropical Storm Erika. Running through the mud and rain is fun though!
The start/finish was at the Group Shelter at Sweetwater Creek State Park. The park is easily accessible and requires a $5 parking fee if you don't have a state park pass. You get to park right near the shelter so it's easy to carry your gear and you don't have to walk far after the finish. Happy feet! The course is a figure 8 that you complete 3 times for the 50k and 4 1/2 times for the 50 miler. The group shelter acts as a great gear check since you pass through it after each loop. After each loop I was able to grab extra nutrition, reapply Body Glide (a must with all the rain!), and change shoes and socks (the wet conditions destroyed my first pair after 12 miles). A loop course is great for a first time ultra participant.
The first part of the loop was very runnable, not technical, with some good flats and downhills. You eventually end up next to Sweetwater creek which is really nice (I love hearing the water), and up 72 steps at the main creek falls (ouch x 3 loops!). Once you reach the top you get a steady flat/downhill past the mill ruins (very cool), and into the aid station around mile 4.5. The aid station is well stocked and equipped with awesome volunteers. If you've not run many trail runs you should know that aid stations include tons of cookies, gummy bears, pickles, soda, PB&J sandwiches...the works!
After aid 1 you head into the second half of the loop. There's a lot of climbing on this part. There's probably 2.5-3 miles where you do some good power hiking. Again, 3 loops of this is difficult but if you look at the climbs like a break from running it's definitely doable. At mile 9.5 you return back to the aid station and then it's about a half mile back to the group shelter. Rinse and repeat.
The yeti trail runner always have fun swag. A race shirt with a unicorn is definitely worn around town with pride. Also, a custom beer and coaster as a finisher award is much more exciting than the common medal. Although there are cutoff times (11 hrs for 50k, 13 for 50miler), the race director Jason is a great guy who wants everyone to have fun and finish. If you're looking to accomplish a new distance, be surrounded by great people, and have a lot of fun (even in pouring rain or crazy heat) this is the race for you!