Latest reviews by John
Each March one of my favorite trail races comes to the Sweetwater State Park just west of Atlanta. The Yeti Nightmare 5m/10m has become one of the top 5 must do races on my race schedule.
Why? Well, I love doing trail races to break the monotony of road racing and to do one at night is even better. This year's race had very little in the way of a moon, just a sliver so you had to be sure that you had a good, high powered headlamp (it is required to run the event.) And while the course has not changed in the past 3 years, you never know how the trail itself will be once you start running; from roots, to rocks, to some wet areas. And running along the shore of Sweetwater Creek and hearing the water as it rushes by, or the sound of an owl (or other creatures of the night) makes for a relaxing run. And If one dares, turning off the headlamp opens up the beauty of the night sky - but don't stay dark too long as you may get lost.
The RD puts on a fantastic event, keeping things low-keyed, and provides a race atmosphere that is lost at the "big" events. Nothing better than hanging with your friends, old and new, while enjoying your finishers beer.
This race always sells out, so if you want to do the 2017 event, be sure to sign up early. In fact, this year he decided to add a 6-mile race on the night before the event and it too sold out. Why, because racers know they will have a good run, with good people and finish it with good beer!!
I was given a race entry from a friend who could not race due to an injury. Being that I had forgotten about registering, this was a blessing as race funds are tight.
Anyways I decided to go to the race expo on the Friday night before the race, during a "snow storm" no less. Now I did not have a vehicle to drive to the expo and had to depend on public transit, so I was amazed that the timing of the trains allowed me to get from my home to the expo in less than 30 minutes.
Upon arrival at the expo, the crowds were light and I was in and out in about 10 minutes. Running for over 10 years, there was no reason for me to stay for the expo. Again the transit gods were good to me and I was back home in 30 minutes. Total trip time, about 1h 20 minutes. No crowds or parking hassles.
Come race day I drove to the start of the race arriving @ 5 a.m. when the parking lots opened. Got a spot in the lot across the street from the start line so I just bundled up and tried to get some sleep time before the start @ 7:40 a.m. About 15 minutes before the start I headed over and was in my corral within 5 minutes. Sweet!!
The course was through many of my favorite running areas of Atlanta, the Old 4th Ward, Midtown, the Centennial Park area and the Downtown areas. Being that the weather was cold, spectators were few and far between along the course but the volunteers made up for it. And the Police support along the course was great as well. But I would not get to experience the 15k aspect of the event. And so glad I did what I did.
You see, there was a runner that I saw along the side of the course about 1/4 mile in and she was crying. Figuring she may have been hurt, I asked if she was ok. She proceeded to tell me how her "friends" had abandoned her on the course as she was too slow for them and that she wanted to quit. Well, being a running coach, I immediately went into action. She told me she was doing her first 5k and I decided to forgo the 15k and help her complete the course. I held out my hand, introduced myself and told her, "Come on, let's do this together." She said that she did not want me to miss the race and I said that I can run anytime. But you need a friend and a coach to help you finish this race and I was going to make sure she did. So she got up and we proceeded to run the 5k. Yes, she was slow, in fact, she was a walker and not a runner. But when we turned onto the finish section at mile 3 she proceeded to start jogging and told me that she was going to finish this with a smile on her face and pride in her heart. So I let her get ahead of me and indeed she did finish, a minute later I crossed as well.
Well in the finish confusion, we never did "hook back up" with her. My pace for the 5k was over 22 minutes per mile (I usually ran about a 9:30 mile), but you know what, it was the most enjoyable race I have had in a long while. If she is reading this, I hope she reaches out to me. I would love to see how she progresses in her running.
Anyways, the race is a good way to see the ATL and explore areas of the city that you might not have ever ventured into. Great swag, great finishers medal for the 15k, and sweet reward awaiting all at the finish.Next year I will be sure to register early for it.