Best Georgia Running Events April 2024 include the Savannah Women's Half Marathon
The Savannah Women’s Half Marathon attracts runners from all over the USA. Photo Credit: Savannah Sports Council

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We’ll let you know our new post is up… and inform you about special events like the Young Life Julia Tarter Memorial 10K 5K April 20th in Milledgeville. You thinking Peachtree Road Race this year? You better get in a good qualifying run and get yourself registered.

Last year we talked about a downhill half marathon in Chatsworth and a number of other events. You can read about ‘em if you wish in our April 2023 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 2024 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 Vidalia Onion Run Half Marathon.  This month we’ve added a Double D Trail Run for those looking for something a little bit more…

This is a Blog about running in Georgia. And this Post is about Best Georgia Running Events April 2024.

A (Atlanta) — Dogwood Festival Mimosa 5K

Atlanta Dogwood Festival Photo Credit Creative Loafing

Our Top Pick for Running in Atlanta is the Atlanta Dogwood Festival Mimosa 5K! Photo Credit Creative Loafing 2023

The Atlanta Dogwood Festival goes all the way back to 1936 when Rich’s Department Store founder Walter Rich invited the world to come visit Atlanta and enjoy the blooming of the city’s dogwood trees. There were pageants, parades and carnivals, along with performances by the Metropolitan Opera, Philadelphia Symphony, and choruses from local colleges.

Twenty years ago the Atlanta Dogwood Festival was drawing 200,000 people. It’s Big.

Take a look at that Start Line photo of the Atlanta Dogwood Festival Mimosa 5K and compare it to the pic we showed last month of the Fire Ant Festival 5K in Ashburn.

Yeah, Welcome to the Bigs.

That’s 10th Street next to Piedmont Park, so we’re talking folks lined up 4 lanes wide and a city block long!

I looked up last year’s results. Garrett blew it open in 15:51. Alan and Chris crossed the finish line minutes later with Grace and two Andrews nipping at her heels. TJ obviously walked it or had one mimosa too many and finished last of 932 participants.

The Atlanta Dogwood Festival Mimosa 5K is different from most running events at Piedmont Park in that it runs around the park and not into the park. Search for Mimosa 5K, and you’ll see a pretty clear map of this course.

Start/Finish: Set your GPS for 400 Park Drive, Atlanta, GA 30309.

Runners line up on 10th Street (near the Peachtree Road Race Finish) at the corner of Charles Allen Drive and run up to Piedmont Avenue. Runners continue on Piedmont past the Atlanta Botanical Gardens, turn right at Monroe, and run back to the Start / Finish Line on 10th Street.

The reason the Atlanta Dogwood Festival Mimosa 5K runs this route is that the entire park is filled with art exhibits, concert stages, events, attractions, etc. Here’s a link to check out what is happening at the festival. http://www.dogwood.org

Cupcake Vineyards is a sponsor of the Atlanta Dogwood Festival Mimosa 5K.

A Mimosa is waiting for you at the Finish Line assuming you’re over 21 and can prove it.

What’s a Mimosa? According to Love and Lemons “Making a mimosa couldn’t be simpler, as it only requires 2 basic ingredients: chilled sparkling wine and orange juice. That’s it! For this cocktail, you don’t even need ice. In fact, for the best results, you should avoid using it, as it will dilute and diminish the wine’s carbonation. For a really cold, bubbly cocktail, chill the wine and orange juice the night before you plan to make mimosas.”

How to Train: This is a rolling course with no big surprises. You might run fast..

Gear Tip: one of the sponsors of this event in the past was Jeff Galloway’s Phidippides running store around the corner in Ansley Mall, so make sure you got a decent pair of running shoes. Big Peach in Midtown and Highland Runners are also nearby.

Weather: According to gosouthatlanta.com Visitor Information, April has less variation in temperature than the preceding winter months. Expect a high low of 50 to 70 degrees most days. 

Need to Know: There is Parking at Piedmont Park, but it is limited to VIP for this event.

Here’s some information we found on Atlanta’s 11 Alive website from last year:

The Dogwood Festival urges attendees to use their “MARTA Breeze Card” and take public transit to the event. There are instructions from the Art Center Station, Midtown Station and Beltline to the event. And don’t forget about buses; here are the routes that will head to the festival:

Bus 36             Midtown Station, Decatur Station

Bus 27             Arts Center, Lenox Station 

Bus 809           Lindbergh Center, King Memorial Station, Monroe Drive 

   

Where to stay:  I like the Georgia Terrace Hotel across from the Fox Theatre, but Hotels.com has a list of closer options assuming you’re comfortable paying for a room in some swanky hotel. For $169+ you could be staying at the Starling by Hilton, $269+ at the Loews Atlanta, but if you’re looking for a little something more, check out the Four Seasons.  

The Flying Biscuit

Where to Eat: Here’s a piece from the Atlanta Journal Constitution we ran last month on where to eat near Piedmont Park. The AJC article included the Flying Biscuit, those out of town listing folks didn’t. Seriously, there is a line outside waiting to get in every time I run past this intown eatery.

Location: Piedmont at 10th near Piedmont Park.

What to do: You got the Atlanta Botanical Garden, Caribou Coffee, Piedmont Park, Phidippides Running Store, Atlanta Beltline East Side Trail, Fox Theatre, Georgia Aquarium, Margaret Mitchell house, hundreds of places to eat, drink, shop, you’ve got options.

Registration costs always go up as you get closer to the event. So be sure to check out our new 2024 Georgia Race Calendar for the Best Georgia Running Events and plan ahead. Please send us an email and let us know if there is an interesting event we should be aware of..

B (Best) — Best Race in Georgia is the Savannah Women’s Half  Marathon

We picked the Savannah Sport Council’s Savannah Women’s Half as the Best Race in Georgia!
We picked the Savannah Sport Council’s Savannah Women’s Half as the Best Race in Georgia!

I’ve been aware of the Savannah Women’s Half Marathon for some time, but this is the first occasion we’ve had to write about it. 

I ran the half at the final Rock and Roll Savannah Marathon back in November 2021. Even won my Age Group! It was cold, wet, miserable, and nothing beautiful about it. But this course is different. It‘s spring time in the South and this course runs through historic Savannah’s beautiful squares, parks, and stunning streets.

The organizers invite you to come join them at the South’s most beautiful half marathon!

Here’s a course map. You’ll travel 13.1 miles through Savannah’s most beautiful scenery on streets lined with live oak trees over 100 years old. You’ll pass by 14 of the city squares, down Washington Avenue, through historic Grayson Stadium and finish in front of the Forsyth Park fountain. 

Course highlights of this year’s Savannah Women’s Half Marathon include that bench.

Beautiful start line at Drayton Street / Bolton Lane intersection

Girl Scout Cookie Cheer Station

Forrest Gump at Chippewa Square where he sat on the bench in the movie!

Washington Avenue’s beautiful, historic homes and ancient live oak trees.

Grayson Stadium run thru Savannah’s historic baseball stadium where Babe Ruth once played! Who cares, the Savannah Bananas are cool.

The beautiful Cathedral of St. John the Baptist (not torched by General Sherman).

The Savannah Women’s Half Marathon Finish Line at the historic Forsyth Park fountain. Photo Credit: gcalebjones 

Stan Cottrell is an ultra-runner who lives in Atlanta. He says the Movie Forest Gump was based in part on his story.  In the movie, Forest says “My Momma said you can tell a lot about a man by the shoes he wears—Where he’s been. Where he’s gone.”

I think you should be going to Savannah. Why? The girls like this event!

Kristen says “The atmosphere before, during and after the race is always so fun. You can’t not love the southern hospitality too! Plus the finisher medal you get at the end makes it all worth it.”

Check out the event website, and you’ll see info for the Savannah Women’s Half:

Fashion Fitness Expo

Race Day

Yoga in the Square

Last some 900 runners participated in the Savannah Women’s Half, but the Top 4: Meghan, Jaclyn, Lauren, and Emily were all from Savannah! 

You can Run it, Walk it, or Fun it like that gal from Augusta that I’ve run into at a couple of events who it taking selfies and shooting video for her running blog all the while putting in a respectable half marathon finishing time.

We checked out the Top 100 Finishers. Most were from Georgia, but the other participants were from all over the USA including Alabama, California, Colorado, Iowa, Illinois, Kentucky, Michigan, Minnesota, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, South Carolina, Ohio, Virginia, and Wisconsin! 

How to Train: You live in the area? Run the course. That’s one of your Hometown Advantages. Otherwise find a reasonably flat route to train on. Build up your confidence and your endurance for the time it’s going to take you to go 13.1 miles. 

Gear Tip: Get a good pair of running or walking shoes. In Savannah we’ve got a highly regarded retailer on our listing of local running shoe stores: Howe 2 RunYou’ve also got the Savannah Women’s Half sponsor: Fleet Feet Savannah. 

This is a shady course, but I’d pack a visor or cap and a pair of sunglasses just in case.

Need to know: The Savannah Sports Council notes several parking garages plus areas available for on street parking. Don’t do it. Get in a garage or hike over from your motel. On street parking is not a given.

I seriously question if your GPS can find the Start Line at Drayton Street side at the Bolton Lane intersection.​ I’d make a test run the day before just to make sure you know how to get there.

Where to stay: Savanah is filled with boutique and finer hotels. If you got the $$$$ you want to stay in a hotel closest to the start line in the Historic District. You’ll find an array of chain motels at the airport and lesser cost properties near the mall. But regardless of your choice, you need a plan of how you will arrive at the Start Line on Drayton Street.

What to do: This is Savannah. Take your choice. Here are some links you might want to check out: Visit Savannah, Savannah Waterfront, Explore Georgia, and Trip Advisor.

C (Complete) —The Chasing Jefferson Davis Marathon in Abbeville.

C  Completes our 2024 Georgia Run Calendar for folks who want to do something more, well interesting… like the Chasing Jefferson Davis Marathon / Half Marathon in Abbeville.

Chasing Jefferson Davis Marathon reenactors

When I ran the Chasing Jefferson Davis Marathon, Johnny Reb fired a field cannon to start the race.

President Davis spent the evening of May 8, in Abbeville a distance of almost exactly 26.2 miles from where he was captured outside Irwinville by a detachment of the Fourth Michigan Calvary. To commemorate this historic event, the counties and communities along the route will host the Annual Chasing Jefferson Davis Marathon. Source: Wikipedia: Jefferson Davis Wikipedia: Abbeville

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 at 300 College Street. Google couldn’t find it when I ran this race. 

Set your GPS for the Abbeville (GA) Motel at 202 S Broad St, Abbeville, GA 31001

Cross the street and go west on College Street 3 or 4 blocks till the road ends at the Gym.

I spoke to the Judge over at the Court House. He says they’ve got better coverage now.

I’d advise you to charge that sucker up and make sure you got a full tank of gas. Otherwise, might be running out of battery life and gas on a two lane dirt road out in the middle of nowhere trying to drive this course.  

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 Davis Marathon website until you find the map links to the Full, Half, and Finish Lines. 

You finish at the Top? You might be getting a Special Award.

When in ran the Chasing Jefferson Davis Marathon, the fella at the Museum over in Irwinton made the awards in his wood shop.

Photo 2023 Awards

It’s darn near dark at 6:00AM in April when the full marathon runners head out from the Armory, but you’ll know when to get moving after those Confederate Reenactors fire that musket to announce the race start. 

Me, I ran next to the lady with the headlamp. You head out of town and on ancient roads alongside farms and fields. There’s even a 3-5 mile stretch on Georgia red clay.

Need to know: The Half starts 30 minutes later at a different location, and you park at the Salem Baptist Church. It may have a Fitzgerald address, but 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 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. And don’t freak out if some other source says it’s in Rochelle GA 31079. Fine line…

I’ve run the Half also, so that’s why I’m telling you all this. Make an effort to locate the Church the day before. 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 13.1mile marker. 

Chasing Jefferson Davis Marathon mile marker Abbeville

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 20.1 on that sign, that’s how far you’ve got to go. 

The last hundred yards you’ll exit the 2-lane and run thru a wooded section up towards the finish line near the Museum. That where I saw the kindly Confederate soldier pointing me to the other side of the trail not occupied by that 4-foot long rattler!!! Nah, jest an Oak Snake he said.

This is a point-to-point race, and 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 Jefferson Davis Memorial Museum next door.

How to Train: Just get comfortable running on rolling hills. No big ups or downs. Pack a cap. Lots of shade at the start and 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 some other options, but they’re in Cordele and Hawkinsville not Abbeville. I’ve also seen some folks setting up a tent and camping out at the Armory, but I’d check to confirm this option.

Where to eat: 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. 

What to do: Go to the Museum. Ride around farm country and share a two lane country road with somebody on a giant cotton picker the size of your great grandmama’s house.

D (Difficult) — The Vidalia Onion Run Half  Marathon 

Vidalia Onion Run Half Marathon

The Vidalia Onion Run Half Marathon is a Fun Event. Notice that Atlanta Track Club runner on the front row, but is she from Vanderbilt, Vidalia, or Valdosta?

We originally picked the Run for God Half Marathon in Dalton as our D for Difficult event. But things change and the Run for God folks replaced this event with a training and race series that starts with the Run for God 5K in Dalton on April 20 and ends with a 13.1 later in the year somewhere else. 

Desperate for a replacement event, we picked a race that we had already run: the Vidalia Onion Run Half Marathon.

What makes the Vidalia Onion Run Half Marathon D for Difficult is the lack of porta potties along the course! You stopped by Ellianos, Kountry Café, or S’Moore Coffee Shop on the way in, and somewhere along that 13.1 course You is Screaming for a Pit Stop.

I emailed Coach Q at the Running Company just to confirm what the Course Map says: There ain’t no pit stops along this route. 

Me. I was dying as I ran alongside all of those beautifully manicured yards until I spotted that little thicket between miles 6 and 7.

Don’t think that I am ganging up on the folks in Vidalia. I’ve got at least 100 running events under my belt, and this was quite possibly the ‘best pavement” of any race that I’ve done in Georgia.

You show up a block off downtown next to the big Baptist Church parking lot and things are buzzing as you await the race start. When I ran it, a Sports Talk Radio Station was there, but the announcers were chattering about everything on God’s Green Earth except this race!

Once we started, we ran a couple of blocks on average pavement before we entered into the wonderland of big suburban ranch style homes, rolling hills (small), green manicured lawns, and a occasional creek or pond. It was nice.

My memories are coming up on an 80 year old runner named Kantrial around mile 10 who was fading. And don’t count him out. He still beat most of you.

Mile 12 I came in alongside a gal I had met in earlier in the year at the Augusta Half Marathon. She was chattering away, taking selfies, and shooting video to use on her running blog all the while putting in a respectable half marathon time.

Best Finishing Awards Ever?

The Event Announcer was up on a flatbed trailer calling out the award winners to step up onto the First, Second, and Third place blocks.

You win the Vidalia Onion Run Half Marathon or win your Age Group and you will be presented with a 5-pound bag of sweet Vidalia Onions by a little princess wearing a tiara.

Where to Stay: Do not underestimate the size of the Vidalia Onion Festival. I tried to book a room 10 days before the race, and Beverly and I ended up staying in a 100 year old Bed and Breakfast called the Edenfiled House 23 miles away in Swainsboro! You got $$$ Check out 9 Columns in Vidalia, but I’ll bet they are already booked. Here’s a link to Trip Advisor on where to stay.

Vidalia Onion Run Festival Parade

What to do. The year I ran it University of Georgia Quarterback Stetson Bennet IV was there at the Air Show taking a joy ride with the Blue Angels. They’re back in 2024 along with live concerts, recipe contests, arts & crafts, etc at the Vidalia Onion Festival. Explore Georgia says there’s lots of other things to do, and some were downright interesting: Like the Onion Museum!

Double D (Difficult) — The Helenback Trail Race 

You got the GUTS, try this one up near Helen.

We put together a laundry list of ultra distance running events at the end of last year, but not a single one in April had a functioning link. So here’s the list, but it ain’t our fault if there’s nobody there in the parking lot when you show up:

Bootleggers Trail Race              100 Mile 50 Mile          Jackson

DR 100 Stone Anvil                  3 Day Race                   Chatsworth

Ragnar Trail Race                     120 Miles                     Conyers

Savannah Scramble                   Adventure Race            Savannah

Instead, we’re going with somebody we know who answers the phone with a running event from your friends at the Georgia Ultra-Running Trail Society. They got a full 26.2, a 13.1, and a little 5K at their Helenback Trail Race for all of you first timers just wanting to try out that new pair of trail running shoes.

E (Extra) — Races just across the Line

We went surfing on online to see what we could find. So here’s a couple of drivable? running events if you live in Atlanta, Augusta or Savannah:

2 Slow for Boston Rules & Qualification Standards

2 Slow 4 Boston is a unique marathon event across the State line in Greer, SC.

The marathon season moves north each month beginning with the Florida races in February, Albany in March, Country Music Nashville in April, and the Flying Pig Cincinnati in May.

Nevertheless, we thought that we’d throw in a couple of other options just for the fun of it.

2 Slow 4 Boston Greer, SC. Is a race like any other marathon Except for awarding winning positions in reverse order,. Be sure to read The Rules & Qualification Standards to make sure you’re not too fast. They’ll still take your registration money, but you can’t win any! 

Coast Guard Marathon & Half Marathon Elizabeth City, NC. I saw this event last year and thought it was a fraud. For $65 I could run a virtual race and they’d mail me a t-shirt and finisher’s medal. But here they are with an actual 26.2 road race. You’re 8 hours from Atlanta and 6 from Augusta. Fly Delta. You’re practically in Virginia.

Country Music Marathon Nashville, TN. Rock and Roll’s got a band playing at every mile marker, but the gospel group out front of that church at Mile 1 was my absolute favorite. I rate this as a Flat and Fast course. You park at the Titans Stadium? It’s huge. Beverly forgot where the car was parked and I thought I was going to die…

In The News

Health & Wellness. A better You in 2024 

Credit: Justin Beckett

I like to throw the AJC a bone now and then, and what better way than this special section that includes everything you need know about how make your life better Except getting right with God and stop hanging around with your loser friends!

Sunday January 21, 2024        Atlanta Journal Constitution   Health & Wellness 

“If the new year rang in a new commitment to making healthier choices, you’ve come to the right place. The Atlanta Journal-Constitution’s Health & Wellness section in the Jan. 21 print editions contains information and inspiration on a wide range of topics like fitness, nutrition and mental health to bring you new ideas to keep you motivated to change your life for the better.”

This is such a puff piece. But hey, everybody is interested in reading about Taylor Swift’s 44-song tread workout!

Use this link if you’d like to read more. 

Running Gear

This being April, I thought that I’d write about something I know absolutely nothing about!

You see her coming a city block away, but I’ve yet to muster the courage to encourage her take a look at the Running Bras on our Gear Page. I’ve learned to keep my mouth shut after asking that woman with the bulging stomach when her baby was due!

With the exception of Tracksmith, all of the Running Bras on our Gear Page are made in USA. We mention Tracksmith because a number of women at the 2020 Olympic Trials in Atlanta were wearing the Allston Running Bra you see in the above photo. That and the fact that we like them…or at least until we saw some of their products on EBAY listed as Imported!

Atlanta’s Peachtree Road Race is coming, and BOA and others have you covered in Red, White, and Blue. We showcased their products at the end of our June and July 2023 posts, and we’re thinking about adding a Red White & Blue listing to our Gear Page.

We note a number of Made in USA options at the end of each post and once a year we compile these listings onto our Gear Page of Made in USA Running Gear including shoes, socks, shorts, singlets and shirts, caps, visors, running skirts and bras!

We’ll update this Big List in 2024 with the editorial that we’ve added to each of our monthly posts.

Got a favorite Made in USA product that you don’t see on this list, shoot us an email and we’ll look into it. Our address is contactus@americanrunnerblog.com

Follow us on FaceBook and Instagram. We generally post 2-3 times each week. First of each month we’ll encourage you to take a look at our latest post. Other times we’ll make note of an upcoming event, training tip, video, or FYI.  

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Runners’ Links April 2024

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