Last year we talked about the spectacular Run the Lights 5K at Life University in Marietta and several of these same events. You can read about ‘em if you wish in our December 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 2023 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 Cloudland Canyon Trail Race up in Rising Fawn.. This month we’ve added a Double D 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 December 2023.
- A (Atlanta) —Westside 10
Rating: Beer Run 10k 10 Miles
- B (Best) — Savannah Bridge Run
Rating: Hard to Repeat 15k 10k 5k
- C (Complete) Harmony Half Marathon in Monroe
Rating: Flat and Fast 13.1 5k
- D (Difficult) —Cloudland Canyon Trail Race
Rating: Tough 50m 50k 13.1 5k
A (Atlanta) — The Westside 10
Our Top Pick for Atlanta is a Beer Run.
After running fast enough to think I had won my age group in the Atlanta 10 Miler last year, I came in 4th, but “Thank You” Atlanta Track Club for the time lost discovering the porta potties at mile 6 were all locked up… I thought that I’d take a shot at another Atlanta 10 Miler: The Westside 10.
The Westside 10 is a Run Social Atlanta Event presented by runningnerds + Monday Night Brewing. And that’s all you need to know to realize that this is going to be a Fun event. Please note:
- The comparatively low registration cost
- The lululemon start line
- The laid-back vibe at the finish line.
- The option to run a 10K or 10 Miles
Last year I made fun of how hard it was to find this event. I wrote “If you’re confused about how to make it to the Start Line at the Savannah Bridge Run, Welcome to the Bigs.” But some 500 other runners had no problama.
The Westside 10 folks got it all together: They have times posted on runsignup.com for packet pickup at Monday Night Brewing on Sunday, Monday, Wednesday, Thursday, a Grab and Go option before the race, and a link to Run Social Atlanta if you need additional information.
Your biggest issue with the Westside 10 will be parking. Here’s why:
1-The race start is at lululemon in Atlanta 2-The finish line is at Monday Night Brewing 3-The Parking at Monday Night Brewing is reserved for volunteers and police
The website suggests you carpool over with your friend, use Lyft or Uber. There’s also a shuttle to take you back to the start line if you parked near lululemon. I suggest you make a test run just to make sure you know how to get there.
Beverly and I did just that, and we had problems locating it. There was construction in the area and landmarks with new names. Race Day morning I took a photo of the road sign at Howell Mill Road and Brady Avenue. That’s where we were lining up. Here’s the address for lululemon: 1168 Howell Mill Rd Unit A, B, C, Atlanta, GA 30318
It ain’t all asphalt either. Part of this course took us thru Atlanta’s new Westside City Park.
The website describes the course as Hilly and Challenging. I like Hilly and Chilly but damn, that last hill was bad. A fella named Jack blew it up in 56 minutes and change, but the rest of us took up to 2 hours to finish the 10 miler.
I finished right in the middle. Some guy handed me a Liquid Death and I just walked around taking it all in. There were tent displays from Death to Plastic, Running Nerds, Monday Night Brewing, Fit Lite Foods, Atlanta Triathlon Club, and REI co-op.
Monday Night Brewing was jammed inside. There were people hanging out on the deck outside. It was fun.
Did I mention the Free Brew at the end of this race?
I gave mine to a fellow who was coming in last. It put a big smile on his face.
Where to stay: We did a Google search of the lululemon address and found 3 properties within 1 mile of the Start Line: Bellyard, Sentral West Midtown, and Embassy Suites. Bellyard is 310 feet!
What to do: Grab a beer and hang out on the deck around the firepit at Monday Night Brewing, Head over to Atlantic Station for Cirque de Soleil, Catch a Hawks game downtown, drive the wife over to Lenox Square. You got options.
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. We’re working on 2024. Send us an email and let us know if there is an event we should take a look at for next year’s Calendar.
B (Best) — Best Race in Georgia: the Savannah Bridge Run
Last year I made fun of all of the boosterism about the Savannah Bridge Run after ‘da major’ threw out a major American running event called Rock n Roll Savannah.
The Savannah Morning News reported that Rock n Roll Savannah attracted 20,000 visitors from all 50 states and 20 foreign countries and brought in $15-20,000,000.
Today the Savannah Sports Council gushes over the Savannah Bridge Run: “Average attendance of over 5,000 runners making it one of the biggest events in Savannah every year.” Yeah, and best I can tell from the finishing results I looked at 90% of them are local.
Reminds me of the time we got a call from a fellow named Harold who owned an auto parts store across the line in South Carolina who wanted out of our advertising program because “he was tired of all of these new people coming into his store.”
The Talmadge Memorial Bridge is 1.9 miles long with a 5.5% grade and 185 feet of clearance giving you at least a couple of inches of breathing room between you and one of those giant cargo ships from China bringing in stuff for Amazon and Walmart.
I ran the Brunswick Bridge Run back in February, and I can tell you a thing or two about bridge runs: (1) they’re hard. That little incline may not seem like much, but it took me an hour and 6 minutes to do the 10k and (2) you’re going to die.
The Savannah Bridge Run website invites you to: “Experience what runners call The South’s Toughest Bridge Run! Face the challenge by running once, twice, or three times over Savannah’s historic bridge to conquer the Enmarket Savannah Bridge Run. Do you have what it takes?”
You can choose to run across the bridge and back 1 time in the 5k, 2 times in the 10k, or 3 times in a 15k. But the Savannah Bridge Run 15k is called a double pump…. I thought double meant 2?
Here’s what they mean: The 5k race starts first at 8:00. The 10K at 8:30 from a different location. That blew my mind. How in the world do you run an under 30 minute Savannah Bridge Run 5K and make it to the start line somewhere else in time to run the 10K? But this year they’ve done a really good job explaining how you finish one event and then jog on over to start the next one. Just search the site for Bridge Run Double Pump.
Best yet: “Once you finish, celebrate at your Michelob Ultra Post-Race Party!”
And that seems to be the objective: to get 5,000 folks onto River Street for a little food, drink, and shopping. Oh, and the Savannah Bee Company’s got a store there with something you’ll see on our Christmas Gifts for Runners 2023 post.
Where to Stay: You’re local. You drove over. You’ll drive back. But trust me, you’ve got way more options here than those folks have at the Harmony Half Marathon up in Monroe. Here’s some links: Savannah Waterfront, Visit Savannah, Explore Georgia.
C (Complete) —The Harmony Half Marathon in Monroe.
C Completes our 2023 Georgia Run Calendar for folks who want to do something more, well interesting… like the Harmony Half Marathon in Monroe.
We pulled this photo of last year’s Harmony Half Marathon awards off the Walton County Face Book Page.
We’re always searching for interesting events, and the Harmony Half Marathon about an hour east of Atlanta seemed to fit the bill. But a Google Search for Monroe, Georgia led us to this question:
Q What is the crime rate in Monroe Georgia?
“With a crime rate of 36 per one thousand residents, Monroe has one of the highest crime rates in America compared to all communities of all sizes – from the smallest towns to the very largest cities. One’s chance of becoming a victim of either violent or property crime here is one in 28.”
I called Kerie at the Walton County Chamber of Commerce to ask IF my car was still going to be there at the end of the race. This time she said “What?” Kerie said she watches the news every day, and she don’t see us on it. I said it was probably some internet algorithm, but that they should at least take a look into it.
Downtown Monroe is that picturesque little village you see when you Search, but the Harmony Half Marathon is a couple of miles, 5 actually, outside Monroe. The race starts and finishes at the Harmony Elementary School. Set your GPS for: 934 Harmony Church Rd. Monroe, GA 30655.
The race heads away from the school on country roads to the City of Good Hope. This little community was a frontier town in 1833, and everybody talks about how pretty the area is. Along the way you’ll be looking a period homes, cattle ranches, horses, farms, and places you might want to settle down and raise a family after that new Rivian Plant gets built just down the road.
CW has run this race 3 times. Here what he says: NICE SMALL RACE
The Race begins and ends at the elementary school, so indoor restrooms. Course is mostly nice asphalt roads (not closed to traffic) with a few cement sidewalks. Mile markers every mile. Some porta potties on course. Manned water/aid stations every 2 miles. Every turn on course was also manned. Results posted fast.
CW didn’t think the course was all that difficult, but he definitely liked the scenery and the swag. Most all participants received a handcrafted age group award. Refreshments afterward. Nice long sleeve shirt and medal.
The Harmony Half Marathon is part of the Black Bag Race Series by the Classic Race Services out of Athens, GA. We looked over their 2023 Calendar and recognized events like the Milledge Mile in Athens and the Running with Jefferson Davis Marathon down in Abbeville.
Weather: You should expect to be running on a cool fall day in 40-60 degrees. But watch the weather and be ready for the potential of a cold start warming up to 50-60 degrees.
How to Train: The Harmony Half Marathon is a flat and fast course. I’d locate a nice route thru the neighborhood and get that longer run in on Saturday morning. You need to be comfortable being out there in the elements for 2 hours and having a strategy of what to do when things warm up.
Where to stay: The boutique hotels in Monroe we found on Explore Georgia were already booked. If you’re headed over from Atlanta or Augusta on I-20, you’re probably bedding down in Covington. Atlanta north will take Stone Mountain Freeway Hwy 78 over to Loganville. But with an 8:30 event start, I suspect most folks like those of you in Athens are just going to drive over the morning of the race.
What to do: Post race you might want to mosey over to Downtown Monroe. Explore Georgia has a long list of places to eat, but local eateries like the Blue Rooster Bakery, Bold Springs Coffee, and the Pot Luck Café caught our eye.
D (Difficult) — The Cloudland Canyon Trail Race
The Cloudland Canyon Trail Race takes place in a beautiful State Park near Lookout Mountain. Photo Credit: Explore Georgia
Best Georgia Running Events December 2023 include the Cloudland Canyon Trail Race.
We thought we’d start our description of this event with an excerpt from the Park’s website. “Cloudland Canyon is one of the largest and most scenic parks in the state. Home to thousand-foot deep canyons, sandstone cliffs, wild caves, waterfalls, cascading creeks, dense woodland and abundant wildlife, the park offers ample outdoor recreation.”
Interested? You’re 2 and a half hours from Atlanta and about 3 and a half from Columbus or Macon. But you’re only 30 minutes from Chattanooga, so if you live in places like Ft Oglethorpe, Ringgold, Chickamauga, or Lafayette… come on down to that big State Park in Rising Fawn, GA.
Run Bum Tours has done a great job on their website presentation for this event. BUT make sure you type in Run Bum and not Rum Bum cause Rum Bum Bum is somebody from India’s You Tube dance video while Rum Bum Racing will let you know that they’re headed to Road Atlanta.
You have a choice of 4 distance events in the Cloudland Canyon Trail Race.
The first two are 50 mile and 50K trail runs. Read the recommendation and requirements closely. You are advised to wear an outer layer, gloves and a warm hat. You must bring a headlamp, extra batteries, a water bottle, and $ for parking.
It’s dark and cold at the start / finish of these longer distance events, and you don’t want to rub noses in the dark with a bear like I did Br’er Possum a couple of years back.
And don’t miss that note about bringing extra socks in case the creek is rising.
This is a weekend event: the Cloudland Canyon Trail Race 50 miler and the Half Marathon are on Saturday. The 50K and the 5K races are on Sunday, but that little 5K has 800 feet of elevation. That’s like 4 passes over the Talmadge Memorial Bridge at the Savannah Bridge Run!
Photo Credit: Rafael Machado
How to Train: One runner last year called the 50K race the Scenic waterfalls from Hell. Cloudland Canyon goes from 800 to 1980 feet of elevation. Run Hills.
Where to Stay: the event starts in the Park, ends in the Park, so stay in the Park if you can. Run Bum Tours has made arrangements for dorm style stays that will keep you close and your cost down. You’ve also got cottages and cabins in the State Park, more cottages, cabins, and chalets on Explore Georgia. And Trip Advisor adds a $68 Days Inn to your options.
Where to eat. Check out the Canyon Grill, Mary’s Diner and Country Store, and Genevas Restaurant in Rising Fawn plus every multilocation fast food joint known to man over on I-75.
Double D (Difficult) — The Pine Mountain Trail Race
We hadn’t seriously thought about a Double D for December until we checked out inbox and saw this note from Nick: Conveniently located just over an hour from Atlanta, we welcome you to the beautiful Pine Mountain Trail system of FDR State Park in Pine Mountain, Georgia. PMTR is celebrating 43 YEARS and is one of the oldest and storied trail runs in the country.
The Pine Mountain Trail Race is brought to you by GUTS: the Georgia Ultrarunning Trail Society. First started in November of 1980, these 19 mile & 40 mile ultra marathon events will test your endurance and your ankles over rocky single-track trails. Since its inception, the course has seen a few different routes and distances. For 2023 we are starting the course (19 Miler / 40 Miler) back at the “Liberty Bell” park area. This will give more runners a chance to finish within cutoff times and enjoy more time out on the trails.
Trail Courtesy: The Pine Mountain Trail is heavily used in the fall by Boy Scouts troops, many of which help maintain the trail. This is also the prime season for families as the temperatures cool and the mosquitoes are gone. The trail will be open to all users on race day. Please be courteous when encountering others on the trail!
My Troop 19 Scout Master down in Macon was a Marine Core Jet Fight Pilot who taught us how to flush out gorillas. You don’t want to mess with the Boy Scouts.
E (Extra) — Races just across the Line
We went surfing on online at Running in the USA to see what we could find. So here’s a couple of drivable events if you had a house full of family and friends over for Thanksgiving and are just looking for an excuse to get away for the weekend. Note: all of these events are on Saturday December 2nd.
The Bayou Half Marathon and 4-miler is a product of the Port City Pacers. Looking out at all that water at the finish line reminded me of running in St Marys this summer. Mobile is 4+ hours from Atlanta, Albany, and Valdosta, 3+ from Columbus.
Technically you are in Bayou La Batre, Alabama
Gulf Winds Track Club 5 and 10 Mile Challenge Tallahassee, Florida
A couple of runners from the Gulf Winds Track Club showed up at the Boston Mini Marathon back in November and they were Fast. If you live anywhere near Thomasville, you’re just a short drive down the road to the Florida State Capitol.
Paris Mountain Road Race Greenville, South Carolina
The Paris Mountain Road Race 10k is a hilly run around the base of Paris Mountain starting and finishing at Redeemer Presbyterian Church. This a Greenville Track Club event. I ran Kings Mountain years ago, so maybe stop by and say a little prayer before you run this event.
Loco Half Marathon Loudon, Tennessee
The Run LoCo Half Marathon is an out and back course starting and finishing at the Tellico Lake Canal. You’ll experience scenic views of the Tennessee River, Downtown Lenoir City, and the Greenway on this certified course. Loudon is about 3 hours from Atlanta
In The News
Nike said sales of footwear in North America—its largest market—fell 2% in the latest quarter. PHOTO: BENJAMIN GIRETTE/BLOOMBERG NEWS
October 23 Wall Street Journal Business & Finance B1
“Nike made a swift comeback earlier this month in the super-shoe fight when marathon runner Kelvin Kiptum set a world record while wearing a new iteration of the company’s Alphafly 3. But the sneaker maker is losing steam in other races.”
This article notes the inroads made by competitors Hoka, On, and others and the priority the company is giving to the everyday runner looking for something new: like the $80 Nike Interact performance shoe introduced last month.
Use this link if you’d like to read more.
Running Gear: mostly little things that can be really Important (sometimes)!
You can click back to look at our Christmas Gifts for Runners 2022 (or look for our new Christmas Gifts for Runners 2023). Most of these are Under $20 items, but I thought last year’s $$$$ offer to Train With Kenyans was cool.
If you grew up in the country, you know what I’m talking about. Here’s a low cost item used by Yatchies (people who live on boats) and people who live in tiny spaces. You really need to air dry running socks and tech fabrics. We bought ours at the Container Store. Probably not made here.
Tom Webber worked one career at Thorlos and another at Wright Socks. He once told me’ Nothing destroys a good pair of running socks like your unclipped toenails’. No-mes are Made in USA.
I ran in a pair like this a couple of weeks ago when it was so yucky outside. The Home Depot in Atlanta has a 3-pack for around $7.00. These are low-cost cotton gloves that you wear until things warm up.
You need something comfortable to put on after that swim bike run and Okabaski are made here in Georgia.
Some enterprising Homie was selling them outside the Georgia State football stadium for $20, but you can buy one at Target or Walmart for around $5 if you plan ahead.
Stop stepping in those $200 running shoes like some Walmart shopper. Take care of those shoes so you can sell them later on EBAY for $25 plus shipping. This shoehorn courtesy of the SAS shoe store near Town Center Mall. Stop by and tell Renee we said Hello.
I bought this pair at Ace Hardware for $20. I wear them anytime the wind is kicking up dust and leaves.
Go to Good Will and buy an oversize long sleeve or hoodie. Wear it to the 40 degree start line and Kiss it goodby once things warm up.
Last year we compiled a list of Running Gear Made in USA that ranged from Flag Theme running shorts to Tracksmith products designed for the 2020 Olympic Trials in Atlanta.
We’ll update this Big List for 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 firstname.lastname@example.org
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