Check out AmericanRunnerBlog.com’s 2023 Race Calendar for some of the Best Running Events and Races in Georgia!
Last year we talked about the Dogwood Festival 5k in Atlanta, Chasing Jefferson Davis Marathon in Abbeville, the inaugural Vidalia Onion Run Half Marathon, and the “fill out your will before you run this hill” Baldbuster 5k near Helen. You can read about ‘em if you wish in our April 2022 post. We’re not just about Atlanta, cause once again we’ve managed to find interesting running events in 34 different Georgia communities for our Georgia Running Events Calendar.
Each month we feature running events of varying distances and difficulties under headings of A Running in Atlanta, B Best Race in Georgia, C something to Complete your options, plus a race we just deem D as in Difficult: like this month’s Helenback Mountain Trail Race. This year we’ve added an E for Extra with race(s) just across the State Line.
This is a Blog about running in Georgia. And this Post is about Best Georgia Running Events April 2023.
- A (Atlanta) — Beltline Northside 5k
Rating: Path Run 5k 3k
- B (Best) — Chasing Jefferson Davis Marathon
Rating: Country Roads 26.2 13.1
- C (Complete) —Tear Drop Half Marathon
Rating: Down Hill Run 13.1 10k 5k
- D (Difficult) — Helenback Trail Race
Rating: Gutsy 26.2 13.1 5k
A (Atlanta) — Northside Beltline 5k
In 1845, the Georgia Railroad connected the city (Atlanta) from Madison, Georgia to the “West End” neighborhood. In 1846, The Macon and Western Railroad came up from the South. And in 1870, the West Point and Atlanta Railroad terminated just west of the city in East Point. Between 1871 and 1908, a wheel of railroads would grow to surround the city center, connecting points on these railroad “spokes.” The result would be what is now referred to as the “beltline.”
Living here within walking distance of the Beltline, I was intrigued with the picture of these young women sent to us as an image for this race. Scroll up to that Starting Line photo that I acquired from an event website, and you’ll see hundreds of runners barreling ahead with that ‘In it to Win it attitude’. This race ATC competitive runners or a laid back neighborhood run…? I really think it’s the latter, but never having run it I just don’t know for sure.
Worst yet, this photo ain’t the Northside Beltline 5k. I’ve run hundreds of miles on the Atlanta Beltline, and this is the west side of town… Google: Lawton Street (the name on the bridge), and you’ll see it is in Southwest Atlanta just around the corner from Tassili Raw Reality Café, Willie A Watkins Funeral Home, and The Wren’s Nest: birthplace of Uncle Remus and Br’er Rabbit.
I’ve made two attempts to run the entire Beltline. The East trail ends north of Piedmont Park, and the North section doesn’t start until somewhere around Collier Road. Parts of the Beltline are under construction, and I’ve yet to successfully get off where it stops and find where it starts back up again. Got close last time. Just no signage anywhere on the ground letting you know that’s the Beltline picking back up around the corner.
What frustrates me is that there are so many websites touting this event… but not necessarily giving you all of the information you need. The best one I found is by the Atlanta Track Club: Northside Beltline 5k.
The Northside Beltline 5k is part of a new race series, and the Atlanta Beltline Partnership and the Atlanta Track Club are challenging YOU to “Race the Loop!” Complete all 3 BeltLine events in person and receive a commemorative item! That word “item” bothers me. To date I’ve won 3 of these commemorative items: a drinking class, a wooden spoon, and a pie turner.
April 15: Northside BeltLine 3K – 5K
July 15: Westside BeltLine 5K – 8K
Nov. 04: Eastside BeltLine 3K – 10K
One website announces: “The first stop of the series takes us to the Northside near Bobby Jones Golf Course.” Beverly and I used to live across the street from Bobby Jones on Longwood Drive, and personally I’ve never found this part of the Beltline. Maybe you will. Maybe it’s that paved pathway inside the park?
The Atlanta Track Club has a Course Map for the Beltline Northside 5k, and the second time I looked it over I noticed an address in the top righthand corner of the page. So set your GPS for Northside Beltline 5k Start / Finish at 280 Colonial Homes Drive NW Atlanta 30309.
The next problem is my iPhone can’t find 280 Colonial Homes Drive NW Atlanta.
But it did get us close. Beverly and I inserted this address and headed south on Peachtree from Lenox Square. Colonial Homes Drive is just before you get to Piedmont Hospital. Hang a right and go downhill till the street ends at a big park. And thanks to that little blue and white yard sign you see in the photo…
<—— I now know that little paved pathway is the Beltline.
Where to Park: I’d drive by just to make sure you know where to park….cause there isn’t any. I questioned a local jogger and she said “just find a place in the neighborhood.” Marta may be an option as well. But you’re probably hopping off at Peachtree and Collier Road … not a terrible walk but…
How to train: Go out for a run on the Beltline. Duh. You’ll need to build your endurance to where you can pace 20-30-40 minutes on a mostly flat surface. But it ain’t all flat, there’s a hill between miles 1 and 2 on the Northside Beltline 5k that you’ll need to reckon with.
Take advantage of the opportunity to train with others. Since 2019, the Atlanta BeltLine and Atlanta Track Club have hosted free weekly group runs and walks that visit different sections of the trail corridor.
You can walk the Atlanta Beltline Northside 5k, and even push the baby stroller on the 3k route. But read the instructions on the event website. There is a time limit of 30 minutes for the 3k and 75 minutes for the longer 5k.
Where to stay: Your friend’s house near the Northside Beltline 5k Start / Finish Line. The closest hotels are over a mile away. If you’re heading this way and find this Intown event interesting, check out Explore Georgia or Trip Advisor for places to stay, eat, shop, or recreate. The Northside Beltline is in-between Midtown and Buckhead just a few minutes east of the I-75 Northside Drive exit.
Registration costs always go up as you get closer to the event. So be sure to check out our 2023 Georgia Race Calendar for the Best Georgia Running Events and plan ahead.
B (Best) — Best Race in Georgia: Chasing Jefferson Davis Marathon
Early on the morning of May 10, 1865, Confederate President Jefferson Davis was captured at his camp outside Irwinville by a detachment of the Fourth Michigan Calvary, who had pursued him into the heart of the Deep South. President Davis had spent the evening of May 8, in Abbeville a distance of almost exactly 26.2 miles from where he was captured.
To commemorate this historic event, the counties and communities along the route will host the Annual Chasing Jefferson Davis Marathon and Half Marathon on April 15, 2023.
Abbeville ain’t Atlanta and that’s why you are going to love this race.
You pick up your packet at the same place you’ll start the full marathon, the historic Abbeville Gym. Set your GPS for 300 College Street. Google couldn’t find it when I ran this race, so here’s a tip. Drive down highway 129 from Hawkinsville to the Abbeville Motel, turn right and go west on College Street till it ends in 3 or 4 blocks at the Gym.
You can register the morning of this race, but I’d advise you pick up your packet the night before.
Click around on the Chasing Jefferson David Marathon website until you find the map links to the Full, Half, and Finish Lines.
It’s damn near dark at 6:00AM in April, but you’ll know when to get moving after those Confederate Reenactors fire that field cannon to announce the race start. Me, I ran next to the lady with the headlamp. You head out of town and run along ancient roads alongside farms and fields. There’s even a 3-5 mile stretch on red clay.
Why they bother to put out those porta-potties in the middle of nowhere is beside me. I just peed on the fire ants and kept going. The age group awards were nice too. The fellow over at the Museum next door to the finish line makes them in his wood shop.
The Half starts 30 minutes after the Full. But be warned: the Half Marathon starts at a different location, and while it may have a Fitzgerald address: it ain’t exactly down the street and around the corner from that motel room you booked in Fitzgerald.
Like other places in the Deep South, there’s more than one Salem Baptist Church. So if you’re running the Half, make sure you are showing up race morning at the right one: The address on the website is Salem Baptist Church 1018 Salem Church Rd, Fitzgerald, GA. Manta has the address as 1018 Salem Church Road, Fitzgerald, GA 31750… And Mapquest lists it as 1018 Salem Church Rd Rochelle GA 31079. Confused?
I’ve run the Half also, so that’s why I’m telling you all this. Just make sure you got a full tank of gas and a charged-up cell phone when you head out to find this place. Maybe even say a little prayer asking God to help you find it!
But the Half was fun. And that map link on the Chasing Jefferson Davis Marathon website was a whole lot better than whatever I got on my phone. You meet up with the other runners in the Salem Baptist Church parking lot, climb in the back of a big pick-up truck, and zip over the Start line around the corner at the 13.1 mile marker.
This is one race that solves the confusion of multiple mile marker signs for the Full and the Half Marathon events by counting you down. When you see 9.3 on that sign, that’s how far you got to go.
The last hundred yards you’ll exit the 2-lane and run thru a wooded section up towards the finish line. That’s where I saw the kindly Confederate soldier pointing me to the other side of the trail not currently occupied by that 40-foot diamondback rattler!!! Nah, jest an Oak Snake he said.
Chasing Jefferson David Marathon is a point-to-point race, so they’ll drive you back to your car after the race whenever you’re ready to tear yourself away from the cold drink cooler. Oh, and don’t forget to take a peek at the Museum next door.
How to train: Just get comfortable running on rolling hills. No big ups or downs. Pack a cap. Lots of shade to start with lots of sun the last half of this race. It’s April. Should be cool to warm, not hot.
Where to stay: I persevered until somebody at the Abbeville Motel picked up the damn phone. But most folks stay in Fitzgerald. Trip Advisor notes places to stay in Cordele and Hawkinsville too.
Yellow Pages listed a number of places to eat in Abbeville, but I only remembered seeing one. Folks seem to like the Kountry Kitchen, even left some nice reviews. But Beverly and I packed our meal bags just in case.
C (Complete) —Tear Drop Downhill Half Marathon
C Completes our 2023 Georgia Run Calendar for folks who want to do something more, well interesting… like the Tear Drop (Downhill) Half Marathon up in Chatsworth.
The name of this event comes from the Trail of Tears, and in this half marathon distance race you’ll intersect the Trail on your run. We found a map of the Trail on the National Park Service website. Basically the map takes you from where the Cherokee Indians lived around here to where they were dumped on the other side of the Mississippi out west on worthless land in Oklahoma.
The only sad thing about this event website was that video taken by someone who got a new drone and had no clue what he was doing. It was so bad it was absolutely one of the worst videos I have ever seen. You get a drone for Christmas? …. But what followed next was a 10 minute gem on You Tube complete with the I’ve Gotta Run sound track!
That long line of yellow school buses in the second video reminded me of Boston. We got up at 4AM to catch a shuttle at the hotel to the train line that took us down into the City. There we walked over to the mall (a tree-lined park) where thousands of runners were lined up waiting their turn to hop on one of those yellow school buses waiting for us at the curb.
And just like Boston, the Tear Drop Half Marathon is a point-to-point race, so you’ll be catching that school bus just like you did years ago. But unlike the Hogpen Hill Climb back in January where Strava recorded 2,000 feet of elevation gain the last 6-miles, You is going down and not up!
The race starts on top of Fort Mountain at an elevation near 3000 feet and finishes in Chatsworth, Georgia for an over 2000-foot drop. The Half Marathon runs an out and back on top of the mountain, and runners will encounter several climbs (it’s not all downhill). The route runs through the Cohutta Wilderness Area and finishes at City Park in Chatsworth.
Interesting Stats: in 2017 some 62% of participants set a PR! (Personal Record)
It’s downhill Duh. Kind of reminds me of the year we did the Bald Buster 5k up Brasstown Bald and then decided to run back down to our cars. Yeah, once you commit there ain’t no stopping…
GET THERE EARLY. This race is a 7:30AM start and you’ll need to catch a bus to get to the Start Line.
You could drive up on race day. You can pick up your packet before the race, maybe even register. Chatsworth is 80 miles from Atlanta, 40 miles from Chattanooga and 10 miles from Dalton, but I’d take that pressure point off and pick it up Saturday afternoon at City Park.
How to Train: Same as your weekly hill repeats but in reverse. Jog or walk up the biggest hill in the neighborhood and run down down down until your calves get used to doing something different. Oh, and don’t plan on doing a whole lot of walking the next few days after this race….
Explore Georgia says that Chatsworth is the Gateway to the Appalachians. Ronn Harris once had a Chevrolet dealership up there, and Shawn Dyer designed a unique arrowhead logo for him. But Chatsworth ain’t in the mountains, near them yes, in them no.
Worst yet, Explore Georgia did not even note Edna’s on their Page 1 listing of where to eat. Seriously!!! And that photo they’re showing on the website is Edna’s Chicken Liver Special!!!
Edna’s is your Grandmama in the Kitchen. Trip Advisor has all the pretty photos of those mountain streams, Ft Mountain State Park, Chief Vann House Historic Site, and the Overlook Inn from $169 a night.
Where to Stay: Explore Georgia says Cohutta Springs Lodge, Wilderness View Cabins or The Overlook Inn. All those other crappy places you see on the various listings are in Dalton. You can also rent a cabin at beautiful Ft Mountain State Park, but there ain’t no internet in the campgrounds! Oh, and be sure to read that Notice about being Bearwise.
D (Difficult) — Helenback Mountain Trail Race
I actually thought the name of this event was Hell and Back until I spelled it all out.
The Helenback Trail Race (GUTS) website invites you to “Come run the beautiful and challenging trails surrounding Helen GA. All races start and finish on the field adjoining the Chattahoochee River.” That’s good to know, cause in case you get lost, you can always make your way down stream back to Atlanta.
This event has a mandatory meeting 20 minutes before the race start that you must attend. They’s serious about you not getting lost in the woods.
The marathon begins at the staging area and heads north with 400 feet of vertical climb up a gravel service road into Unicoi State Park.
The Helenback elevation map looks like what we just did back in February at the Bridge Run in Brunswick. It was brutal. This is worse. At least we had the First Responders on hand for their race. You is in the woods
This first aid station is at mile 4. So suck it up and try to make it if you can. The next one is the First Blood station at mile 9.5. You’ll see this one a second time on your way back down as you go flying towards the Bear Trap and Beach stations on your way to the finish line.
Stuck in the carpool line? Try counting the number of times the words up, climb, and down are used in the description copy. Here’s an example: Push up the climb on FS 690 toward Tray Mountain Road and the Appalachian Trail. When you reach the top, you’re at mile 15 and you’re done climbing!
They have 3 events going on, so you can choose a 5k, half marathon, or the full marathon. I like the 5k option for newbies wanting to try out that new pair of trail running shoes they got for Christmas. Doing this distance a couple of times will give you the confidence to try something longer like the Georgia Death Race or the Georgia Coastal Greenway Ultra.
There are porta potties for you at the Start Finish line. So if you can’t hold it for the full run, make sure that little den you popping into isn’t inhabited. Cause nothing pisses off Mama Bear more than you messing in her living room! I’m sure they’ll cover this in that mandatory meeting, but take a moment to scroll down the State’s Outdoor Safety Tips.
Where to stay: The organizers of this event really want you to stay in Unicoi State Park. The Park has a Lodge as well as cabins and campsites. I like to stay in Helen, but the organizers are right. It’s better to be there in the Park … close to the race start.
Just realized this is a Saturday event. Yes you can drive up in the morning from Atlanta or most places in North Georgia. But I’d make a weekend of it and pick up that race packet Friday night.
Part of the proceeds of this race benefit the Unicoi State Park, and you benefit by being able to be part of events like this in the Park. Don’t forget to use that special promotional code you see on the website when you book that room.
The Helenback Event Sponsors include Betty’s Country Store. Last time I was at Betty’s I brought home some Country Bacon. Time before that I got some real milk from the Mountain Fresh Creamery. So stop by and let Betty put a smile on your face. This ain’t no big city grocery store.
E (Extra) — Races just across the Line
This is a new entry for 2023 that we will try and give some attention best we can.
We focus on running in Georgia, but I worked in advertising and one of the Facts about buying ads in this State is that half your money goes somewhere else. Run ads in Savannah or Augusta and you’re getting South Carolina, Columbus gets you into Alabama, and the big TV station in Thomasville is part of the Tallahassee market. Same principle also applies in reverse to Greenville, Chattanooga, and Jacksonville.
We went surfing on marathonguide.com to see what we could find in April. Nothing. Nada. Nichts. So here’s a local to you running event if you live in Downtown Atlanta or thinking about making it Big in Nashville:
The Pi Mile is one of the coolest races you’ve never heard of. And maybe that’s because it’s a long time on-campus tradition. The Georgia Tech Alumni Association’s promotion has a really nice video that proudly proclaims this to be the 50th Anniversary of the Pi Mile.
“The Pi Mile was originally named the Dean George C. Griffin Pi Mile to honor the longtime Georgia Tech track and cross-country coach. The first race in 1973 was 3 miles long and founded by alumnus L. McTier “Mac” Anderson, CL ’67.
The course was expanded to 3.14 miles after 1975 and is now a 5K race. Part of the race is run along the Tyler Brown Pi Mile Trail, a running course dedicated to former Student Government Association President Tyler Brown who ran daily for ROTC and was killed in action in Iraq on September 14, 2004.”
I’ve run thru the Georgia Tech campus dozens of times as part of various running events. Even ran the old Chick-Fil-A ACC-SEC 5K Challenge a couple of times. If they route you around those pesky speed bumps, this could be fun. But search for a Pi Mile course map if you can find it cause there are some ups and downs on this campus.
HINT TO YOU NORTH AVENUE TRADE SCHOOL INSECTS TO UPDATE YOUR INFO: “The 2022 course map is currently being finalized and will be posted here as soon as it has been approved.”
How to run this race: The Alumni Association says you have three options: on campus, offsite with your alumni friends, or you can run a Virtual Pi Mile. Are you and I invited…Don’t know? I didn’t see a way to register… but Beverly’s good cause she’s got an ME from Georgia Tech.
Training Tip: If you live here, go out and jog the course. Your Hometown Advantage is that you slept in our own bed, ate your own food, and know the course.
Where to Park: You’re probably already on campus if you’re running this event. But if not, I’d do a test run just to make sure you know you can arrive in time for a 7:30 AM Saturday morning start.
The website offers Pi Mile participants and spectators parking at the E46 Burge Deck, AREA 1 North Avenue Parking Lot, and AREA 2 Student Center Visitor Parking.
Where to Stay? Same place you book for the Rambling Wreck Football and Basketball games. But check out Explore Georgia and Trip Advisor if you’re looking to make a weekend of it. Lots of places to stay, eat, and park plus Marta Rail and Bus options near the Georgia Tech campus.
Nashville Rock n Roll Country Music Marathon
I thought I’d mention the Rock n Roll Country Music Marathon up in Nashville if for no other reason than to tick off the mayor of Savannah who cancelled Rock n Roll Savannah: an event that brought in $15-20,000,000 million dollars to the Community. You know, screw the hotel owners, restaurants, River Street merchants, airlines, waiters, cooks, and line workers whose taxes pay your over inflated salary.
Nashville’s about a 4-hour drive from Atlanta, and the marathon course is flat one. What I remember most about this event was the Doctor and his family in the waiting area at the Italian Restaurant downtown. He whispered to me that he had changed the atmosphere in his home from ‘where the hell are you running this month’ to “where are we going…” Next race I booked was San Francisco. Beverly got the City Pass for the family and we rode cable cars, ate in Chinatown, had a blast. I came in last.
Gear Tip: It happened to me as recently as last month as I questioned whether to register or not for the Cherry Blossom Quarter Marathon in Macon. With the impending approach of rain I wondered would I be ready IF… Welcome to April…You’ve heard the expression April Showers all your life, so here’s a Tip. Take advantage of that next shower to check out your rain gear. Put it on and head out for a quick run or maybe just walk around the block. You need to know what works, what doesn’t work, and what needs to be changed NOW before your next event.
Runners’ Gear: Click on our Gear Page for the Big List of Made in USA products
We like to showcase running apparel and gear with an emphasis on Made in USA products. Last month we showcased Made in USA Running Socks in our March 2023 post. This month we’re listing Running Shorts:
The bicycle riders will tell you how important it is to support your local Bike Shop, but what are we to do when our retailers don’t support us? Too many times when I walk thru a running store, I see everything made over there and nothing made here. So here’s a list of what I have found to date of Running Shorts Made in USA.
The company has expanded their original bike only focus to include triathlon shorts and most recently unpadded compression shorts. I’ve done hundred mile bike rides and run full 26.2 marathons in their tri shorts. Yeah, swam in them too!
BOA was founded in 1992 in Costa Mesa, California by Willamette University Hall of Famer David Fleming. David Fleming set multiple records while at Willamette University and still holds the 10,000m record he set in 1980, 29:54.44.
You’re going to set records too.
Their shorts are lightweight and bullet Fast.
Say hello to your new go-to comfortable, wicking, anti-microbial Spandex running shorts! BOLDER Endurance shorts feature a spacious 6×6 leg pocket on each leg as well as a 12″ zippered waistband compartment, perfect for your ID, key and more. Endurance shorts are made with double-layered, double-stitched thigh bands that resist splitting.
Made to order….
Shorts and Men’s performance compression tights.
Worn by Professional Athletes, our wonderfully balanced support, structure, and breathable comfort give you the confidence to do your best, and recover more quickly.
Awarded “Mens Compression Tights of the Year” by Men’s Health Magazine.
Mack Weldon is a big name in quality underwear. Now he’s is offering Running Shorts with 7-inch inseam.
With smart design and performance fabrics, our products are designed to work together.
Lightweight running short for training and competition. Made in New York City of imported European fabrics. Bonded noso® seams and hems. Internal three-pocket system holds essentials against the body.
“BEST RUNNING SHORTS” -GQ FITNESS AWARDS 2022
RaceReady was founded in 1993 to solve a problem – how to carry the energy gels and nutrition bars that were coming on the market that enabled long distance runners to go farther and faster than ever before. Gerry Hans and Mary Button were two such runners and came up with the idea that revolutionized running shorts – why not add external pockets? They did and Race Ready was born in the garage of their Los Angeles home.
100% performance moisture-wicking fabric technology.
Lightweight, breathable & silky-smooth.
Odor-resistant fabric technology.
6 oz Double Knit Quick-Dry Poly
Made In USA Performance Textile
Designed, Cut & Sewed in the USA
1986 was the year the gun went off early at the Boston Marathon. The following year, they had a human chain of officials wearing blue and gold SOARK jackets!! And the same year, 1987 , the New York City Marathon Perrier shorts were made by SOARK.
I ordered a pair of the marathon shorts you see in the photo. Very lightweight.
Our shorts collection is crafted to cover the full breadth of a training cycle from easy shakeouts to race day. We broke this list out by the short’s design intention, but that does not preclude, for example, a short for “harder efforts” being worn on an easy run.
Doing Boston, Berlin, Tokyo?
They got you covered.
The breathable XOSKIN™ technology fabric is highest rated for anti-odor/skin wellness, and for taking moisture management, skin protection, abrasion and comfort a quantum leap forward during high energy levels.
The body-mapped sweat traps and air channels promote maximum airflow to help you stay comfortable.
Say no to chafing, these short’s are seam-free. Provides full range of motion. Preshrunk so you don’t kick your dryer on laundry day.
Click back to our January 2023 post if you’re looking for some ideas on what to wear in colder weather.
We like to talk about a couple of items each month. A couple are affiliate relationships. Most are Made in USA.
We put together a Big List of Made in USA Runner Gear including shoes, socks, shorts, singlets and shirts, caps, visors, running skirts and running bras on our Gear Page.
Got a favorite Made in USA product that you don’t see on this list? Shoot us an email or a link and we’ll look into it. Our address is email@example.com
And please please please don’t forget to sign up for our FREE monthly e-mail …