Latest reviews by Jessica Rudd

(2016)
"Keep your resolution with a thousand friends!"
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ATC offers this 4, 1 mile, and 50m, race each New Year's Day. It's a great way to start off the New Year and is also the first race in the ATC Grand Prix. It also starts at 10am so you get to sleep off that New Years Eve hangover. I actually ran to the race from my house, and then had a great time hanging out with friends, enjoying the provided coffee and bagels (since I was standing around for 1.5hr sweaty and cold, the coffee was a life saver!), and then ran a surprisingly strong 4 mile race with some of my best running friends. It's definitely a hilly course, with some nasty hills in the last mile, but the neighborhood is nice with beautiful homes, and more people than is typical in Atlanta came out of their homes to cheer.

Pros:
Access- Even though I ran to the start, the event starts in one of the city train stations so there's a huge parking area, or you can just take the train to the start (which is recommended)
Pre-Race - packet pickup at the start (this is the only time to get your bib). Bagels and coffee(yum!), DJ to keep everyone motivated and music, Coach Amy with the ATC training programs led an awesome warmup, Mizuno step-and-repeat with costumes and signs to write your resolutions
Swag- really nice, soft long sleeve t-shirt. The only problem people are having lately with ATC shirts is that they run REALLY small. Most ladies I know have been ordering XS and even those seem kinda big. I really like mine though and wore it all day after the race.
Race- a hilly one, but I feel like that goes without saying in any ATL race. Brookhaven is a beautiful neighborhood so you get to see great houses along the way
Finish- they had medals for any kids finishing the race. Super cute. Adults? Get over it; you don't need a medal for running 4 miles.

Cons - Since the start was at the train station it was sometimes difficult to hear announcements when a train went by. In fact, my friends and I were not aware that the 1 mile race started 15 minutes after the 4 (this info is posted on the website) so one of the girls ran the 1 mile by herself lol. She wasn't upset about it though.I feel I need to take 1 star for race management though for that reason.

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(2016)
"Exploring Atlanta's "Backstage""
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I like to call this an adventure run rather than a race. There's a summer and winter edition of the race, with the summer edition going all the way around the approximately 22 mile future rail trail around Atlanta, and the winter edition going out-and-back. Only a few miles of the proposed trail are actually finished and paved. Some of the future path is still active railway (the winter edition does not go along the active tracks).

Even though the trail is pretty flat, this is not a race for the faint of heart. Most of the route is off-road, gravel, train tracks, or practically impassible thick pits of Georgia clay. Be prepared to get muddy, possibly climb fences, scavenge supplies from convenience stores near the route, or possibly find a hidden water and/or beer stop in the woods. Also be prepared to run the most epic race with the best people you will ever meet.

Pros:
- See Atlanta like no one else
- Play in the mud
- Earn a one of a kind token of awesomeness
- Beer, pizza, chili at the finish
- Trains!
- I personally find the underbelly of Atlanta to be some of the most unique race scenery
- For a 'self supported' race, they do a damn good job with goodies at the start and an actual aid station (or 2 if you're lucky)
-No annoying race bib to wear; instead you choose a playing card and that gets to be your race "bib" - See pic

Cons:
-The winter edition doesn't circumnavigate the city- but that just means you have to come back for the summer edition!
- If you're looking for a sanctioned, measured race to qualify for Boston or Marathon Maniacs, please go somewhere else.

If you want to enjoy a completely unique Atlanta running experience with some really cool people, you MUST do this race.

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(2015)
"Low key, fun tradition"
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This is the 3rd year I've done this race. It's one of the only 5ks I do each year, and I usually go witha group of people for some holiday fun. It's a really pretty neighborbood, pretty hilly, and this was the first year it was chip timed.

Pros:
-Historic Atlanta neighborhood
-Everyone welcome: walkers, strollers, dogs
-Parking: small parking lots at the start and finish locations, but plenty of street parking. Easiest to park at finish and walk/warm-up to the start, less than 1 mile away
-5 days of packet pickup at local running store
-Santa hats for everyone
-Hot chocolate, coffee at the finish

Cons:
-Walkers, stroller, dogs on leashes are also really difficult obstaces; I ran on sidewalk to bypass crowds
-One little aid station with only water, in the middle of an uphill climb. Don't really need any aid on a 5k but if a race has one it should not be in the last mile of the course.
-A lot of people really like the long sleeve cotton shirt, but it's not really my thing. Will be a lounge around the house shirt until it goes to goodwill.

It's a festive experience each year, best enjoyed with friends (and possibly mimosas at the finish).

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(2015)
"46 (or 19) miles of beautiful single track!"
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My favorite trail race even though I haven't finished yet. DNF two years in a row is frustrating but hasn't made me love this race any less. The addition of the 19 mile option makes it a great race for someone looking for a challenging trail and a possible future in ultra distance events. In the past it's been a 40 mile event but they added a 6 mile loop at the beginning with only 30 extra minutes on the cutoff time. Definitely a tough one for those of us riding cutoff times but a challenge I'll come back for a third try.

Pros:
-Scenery: the race starts in the dark (you'll need a headlamp) so you end up on the ridge line of the Pine Mountain Trail (PMT) just at sunrise. It's beautiful.
-Accessibility: FD Roosevelt Park is pretty narrow so the PMT is never too far from the road. This means that your cheer squad can easily hike into most of the aid stations to meet you.
-People: there's something about aid stations at trail races, and specifically ultra, that just makes me happy. They're like an oasis of awesome. The table are always stocked with water/poweraid, PB&J, M&Ms, salty treats, etc etc. Plus, the people are really helpful and encouraging. Each year I have people fill my bottles, grab snacks for me, ask me what else I need. This is all extremely helpful when all power to your brain has been delegated to other parts of your body.

Cons:
-Terrain: I love it and hate it at the same time. This is not a race for a first time trail runner. While the elevation is rolling (from a trail race perspective), the terrain itself is technical with lots of rocks, roots, and leaf cover. Even though I haven't finished the race, I feel like the fact that I haven't bit the dust either year is a win. You always see a bit of blood at the finish line. The 19 mile option is a good choice for someone who'd like to get a challenge but already has some trail experience.
-Distance: let's face it, 40 miles was already an odd distance. Why the hell they added 6 miles at the start, I have no clue. The rest of the course was exactly the same. Since I ran the race last year it felt like I was only starting at mile 0 after running for 1.5 hrs. It was a huge mental hurdle for me. Also, the cutoffs time are the same as the past. They started the race 30 minutes early but added 6 miles so it's just more difficult for those of us already at the back of the pack. I do hope they go back to 40 next year but I'll be back for attempt #3 regardless.

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(2015)
"They weren't joking about those hills..."
Overall
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This race organized by the Running Nerds group is advertised as "hilly and challenging" and they weren't kidding. Also, this was the 3rd year so I had friends who also "warned" of the hills. Most races in Atlanta are hilly but I'd say this is the most difficult Atlanta road race I've done. Since I was prepared for it though I think I was still able to enjoy the experience. I only walked the worst hill at mile 8 since I'm pretty sure I hiked that bad boy faster than I could have kept running anyway.

Pros:
-Packet pickup options for 5 days rotating to several different stores around Atlanta, so it was easy to find a convenient time. However, ALL of the pickup locations are in-town ATL so if you're coming from the 'burbs then it won't be very convenient for you. You can have someone else pickup your packet but there is NO RACE MORNING PICKUP. This is clearly stated on the website and in emails so as long as you arrange for help if needed, shouldn't be a problem.
-Parking: plenty of street parking options, and several businesses have opened their lots for parking as well. Also, the start is pretty close to several highways so it's accessible.
-Facilities: there are several businesses in the start area that opened for the participants to get free coffee, snacks, and use real toilets. They did have some porto-potties outside as well. Even though race morning was warm this year, it's nice to have the option to huddle inside and use real bathrooms.
-Course: despite the hills, I enjoyed visiting westside neighborhoods I normally don't see.
-Post race: 2 full pours of awesome beer, a souvenir pint glass, and really yummy shrimp and grits. Also, since the finish was in a different location from the start, they ported gear bags to the finish and you can change into dry clothes at the brewery.
-Shuttle: they provided a nice shuttle from the brewery back to the start area.

Cons:
-HILLS! I like hills but I'll put this here just in case someone else really hates hills.
-Aid stations: IMO there weren't enough. I went more than 3 miles at one point without aid. Maybe I'm being picky but I think a road race should have aid at least every 2 miles. Also, each aid station was pretty sparse: 1 table with some water and Gatorade if you were lucky (I'm a mid packer and they had already run out at several tables by time I made it through). This race may "only" be 10 miles, but it's more difficult than most half marathons I've done. With that in mind I really think the aid stations should have been better stocked.
-Course: Yes, I know I had this in the Pros section. However, there were several stretches of the course on very busy, narrow roads with no shoulder. They used cones to mark off a 2-ft wide section for the runners. Honestly, if you ran too close to the cones you could easily be run over. Also, the road itself was in really bad condition in some sections and bad obstacles, i.e. potholes, were not marked at all. In some of the narrow sections there was no room to run around the obstacle unless you ran into traffic. This section was probably 1/2 mile and it was at the end but I still think they could have closed off that section of road or routed around somewhere else.

At the end of the day, Running Nerds is a small club that puts on a great, popular race. The difficulty of the course should be reason enough for people to give it a shot. Some improvements could be made but I think they'll continue moving in the right direction.

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