Mount Yohan Vertical Race in Cleveland
The Mount Yohan Vertical Race in Cleveland asks a really good question. Photo: Event Website

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Last year we talked about the Skidaway Island Marathon near Savannah and a number of other events. You can read about ‘em if you wish in our February 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 Brunswick Bridge Run. This month we’ve added a Double D Island 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 February 2024.

A (Atlanta) — Atlanta Hawks Fast Break

Our Top Pick for Running in Atlanta is the Atlanta Hawks Fast Break!

Our Top Pick for Running in Atlanta is the Atlanta Hawks Fast Break!

After looking up last year’s finishing times, I decided to peek and see how Chris had done. I couldn’t find his time, but Jared from Atlanta crossed the line in 15.36, Stephen from Stone Mountain in 15.41, and Zoe’s 5:49 mile pace wasn’t exactly shabby either. 

You running the Atlanta Hawks Fast Break? You got some Fast Company.

The reason I couldn’t find Chris’ finishing time was that he ran the Atlanta Hawks Fast Break in 2022… His first 5K!

Last year he ran the race at the Georgia Aquarium around the corner, and the Fast Break runners had to wait until the fish people had cleared before they could show their stuff.

You like stuff? You are going to love the Atlanta Hawks Fast Break.

Your registration fee will get you the usual bib number and race shirt, But there’s more!

The Atlanta Hawks Fast Break will get you a $$ ticket voucher towards an Atlanta Hawks home game, and the listing of upcoming games includes a number that might just get you in for Free!

Like the listing below from 2023:

  • Monday, March 13th vs. Minnesota Timberwolves
  • Tuesday, March 21st vs. Detroit Pistons
  • Saturday, March 25th vs. Indiana Pacers
  • Tuesday, March 28th vs. Cleveland Cavaliers
  • Wednesday, April 5th vs. Washington Wizards

Here’s the drill. Register online. Show up race morning at Phillips Arena / now State Farm Arena for packet pick-up. Pin that race number on your shirt and head outside to join the party. The pep group is there, the ATL Dancers, Hawks Mascot, DJ…

Ready Set Go…. You start this race at State Farm Arena. You finish this race at State Farm Arena and head inside for your race shirt.

Gear Tip: I’m writing this article mid January.  The low this week is 16 degrees. The high is 62. Watch the weather and dress accordingly. You’re parking next door so you don’t need to be standing there at the race start in your winter jacket like some of you in the event photos. 

Personally, I’d take a look at the end of this post at some running gear for colder weather.

Need to Know: Free Parking!!!

Set your GPS for State Farm Arena – One State Farm Drive, Atlanta, GA 30303

MARTA is another option. State Farm Arena is accessible via the MARTA Blue or Green lines and the Georgia World Congress Center / CNN stop will drop you directly at the check-in location for this event. 

Where to stay:  Trip Advisor lists 25 downtown Atlanta hotels within one half mile of the Start Line at State Farm Arena, but the Omni Hotel at Centennial Olympic Park is just across the street at 190 Marietta St., Atlanta, GA 30303

What to do: You got the Atlanta Hawks, Centennial Olympic Park, CNN Center, Georgia Aquarium, World of Coca-Cola, College Football Hall of Fame, a giant Ferris Wheel, hundreds of places to eat (and drink) including a popular German Restaurant called Der Biergarten that I’ve yet to visit cause Fraulein and I ain’t paying $$$ to park!

Want To Volunteer For This Event?

Use this link or email the Atlanta Track Club at volunteers@atlantatrackclub.org

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: the Publix Atlanta Marathon

We picked the Publix Atlanta Marathon  as the Best Georgia Running Event February 2024
We picked the Publix Atlanta Marathon as the Best Georgia Running Event February 2024.  photo credit Kindell Buchanan

Atlanta runners describe their town as Hills, Heat, and Humidity, but you can forget about those last two in this February event sponsored by the good folks at Publix. Look over anybody’s course description, and you’ll see the word: Hills.

You run a BQ in Atlanta. You’re going to run well at Boston. How do I know this? Because I beat 3 out of 4 runners in my age group in Boston. You qualify on somebody’s flat and fast marathon course, You ain’t getting past the Newton Hills…

Last year the Top 100 finishers came from 22 States, the District of Columbia and 2 runners from the Island of Aruba. The 2023 Atlanta Marathon had 1,335 Finishers. The Atlanta Half Marathon attracted almost 4,000 runners. 

We noted familiar names like Hayden from Milton taking 1st Place in the full in 2:35 with Hisato from Peachtree City coming in 2nd in 2:37. John Green from Milledgeville finished 12th overall in the half in 1:10 with a 5:22 mile pace! Make a note: John is Fast!

I live here and I’ve run the Atlanta Marathon on numerous occasions. The first half of this race is a great course that will take you from Centennial Olympic Park up, down, and all around the Old Fourth Ward, Virginia Highlands, Piedmont Park, and Georgia Tech before you go flying to the finish line.

Every time I’ve run this race I’ve had to deal with people who stepped in to one of those upfront corrals and pooped out 1-2-3 blocks to maybe 1 mile into the race. And do they move over to the side? No. So you need to be patient, attentive, and looking ahead for the line that’s moving up.

The Atlanta Track Club will present you with (4) options to run the Atlanta Marathon in 2024.

Run the full Atlanta Marathon course.

Run the first half of the marathon course.

Run the second half of the marathon course (new this year)

Run the first half and ask your friend to run the second half. What?

FYI: Age Group Awards are only given to the competitive runners in the full Atlanta Marathon or the first half of the Atlanta Marathon course.

If you’re doing the full you’ve got 13.1 to go, but the second half of the course is new to me. 

Utilizing the ATC’s etch-a-sketch ($14.97 at Walmart) style Course Map on Facebook, Beverly and I attempted to drive it. Passing the Start / Finish line at Centennial Olympic Park we turned off Marietta Street into West Midtown and headed down towards Atlanta University.

My advice is not to attempt a test run on this side of town unless you know where the heck you are. I’ve run thru this area before. It’s just that you’ve got abandoned houses, gentrified neighborhoods, and people talking to themselves on the sidewalks. 

Lapping around Atlanta University you’ll head back towards downtown before turning south towards Atlanta’s Grant Park. 

Atlanta Marathon runner running under the Olympic Rings on Capital Avenue

The Publix Atlanta Marathon has some great photo possibilities. Photo Credit: Joaquin Lara

Ask a friend to grab a shot of you running under the Olympic Rings on Capital Avenue between Mile 18 and 19.

Watch your path on Mile 20.  The City paved Atlanta Avenue in bricks, and they did not do a very good job. The street is wavy, the manhole covers are elevated above the pavement, and we noted several small sinkholes that might end your dreams of a fast finish.

Got friends and family who want to watch you run? Invite them to party at Grant Central Pizza or across the street at Dakota Blue. They can sit outside in Café style seating on Cherokee Avenue in Atlanta’s Grant Park neighborhood and sip on a cold one in front of Adams Realty near the Mile 21 marker.

Lapping past The Little Tart Bake Shop you appear to be running on Memorial Drive or MLK towards downtown before looping around to Decatur Street for those last 3 miles to the finish line.

Go to the Atlanta Track Club website. Scroll down the Events pulldown to Publix Atlanta Marathon and you’ll find everything you need to know:

Your friends at Publix will be giving out chocolate milk at the end of the run!

Due to the change of the start/finish line moving to Home Depot Backyard, new 2024 course maps are currently in development.

Start Line: Set your GPS for Home Depot Backyard, 1 Backyard Way, Atlanta, GA 30313

Training Tip: Get comfortable running on a hilly course for the 2-3-4+ hours of your expected finishing time. Part of your training is doing the distance; the other part of your preparation is getting used to being out there on the course, staying hydrated, and fueling up.

Getting older I’m beginning to take Jeff Galloway’s Run Walk Run technique a bit more more seriously. I run a little, walk a little, and I LOVE passing all of you 30 year olds who flew off the start line and blew up somewhere along the course!

Gear Tip: Watch the weather. This should be a perfect day with a 40 degree start and a 50-60 degree finish. I’d advise layering up or at lease investing in a throw shirt to wear at the Start Line. My friend Ken lives along the Atlanta Marathon route over in Inman Park, and I just chunk mine over his fence and pick it up later!

Where to Stay: Trip Advisor lists 25 downtown Atlanta hotels within one half mile of the Start Line at Centennial Olympic Park, but the Omni Hotel at Centennial Olympic Park is just across the street at 190 Marietta St., Atlanta, GA 30303.

Where to eat: You got hundreds of places to eat (and drink) around Centennial Olympic Park from Waffle House to Ruth’s Chris Steak House!

C (Complete) —The Safari Run in Cleveland

C  Completes our 2023 Georgia Run Calendar for folks who want to do something more, well interesting… like the Safari Run near Cleveland.

The Safari Run takes place at the North Georgia Wildlife Park near Cleveland..

The Safari Run takes place at the North Georgia Wildlife Park near Cleveland, Georgia..

If you’re heading to Cleveland, Georgia AKA Gateway to the Mountains, you’ve got two very different running events this month. The Mount Yonah Vertical Race is Rated: Technical with 10,000 feet of vertical climbing or the more pusillanimous 5,000 foot option.

My advice to stop by Truett McConnell University and make sure you’re right with God before attempting anything this stupid. 

Instead, we recommend you take the family over to the Safari Run at the North Georgia Wildlife Park. Why run repeats up and down a mountain when you can run wild with a bunch of zebras, camels, and badgers!

This used to be a straight 5K race like every other running event you’ve ever done. So the folks at the Wildlife Center changed this event to make it more FUN…or at least more interesting. 

1-You’re running on a mix of dirt and gravel service roads inside a wildlife park.
2-The Safari Run folks will be presenting you with a Challenge Course that includes

Feed bag carry
Sneaky Lunges across the bridge
Spider web crawl
Tunnel like a groundhog (through a tunnel)
Tire pull
Penguin waddle 
Zookeeper problems  

It’s all backward! (run backwards to mark)
Balance beam cross

I spoke with Scott at the Wildlife Park, and he assures me that this is going to be Fun and not something they picked up from the Ranger Station over in Dahlonega. 

Pick your Wave: 

8:00     3.6 mile           Challenge Course Competition

8:30     3.6 mile           Challenge Course not so competitive

9:00     2.8 mile           Run / Walk around the park and to Hell with the Penguin Waddle

9:30     1.0 mile           Kids / Family Run Walk

Need to Know: the race takes place at the North Georgia Wildlife Park.

Set your GPS for 2912 Paradise Valley Rd, Cleveland, GA 30528 or call (706)348-7279

Weather: the average temperature this time of year ranges from a low of 29 degrees to a high of 54. But you’re at the Gateway to the mountains and it could turn Cold. Watch the forecast and make a note if it’s going to be sunny or cloudy and dress accordingly.

How to Train: locate a nearby farm and get used to the smell of poop.

Where to stay: as far away from the poop as possible. Explore Georgia notes 10 Bed & Breakfast options, 14 Cabins and Cottages, 4 Campgrounds and RV Parks, 10 Condos, 10 Motels, and 10 Resorts. You got it all in Cleveland

What to do: Trip Advisor has a list of things to do starts with the North Georgia Wildlife Park and adds camping, fishing, restaurants, vineyards, golf, and stopping by the Babyland General Hospital and picking up that Cabbagepatch Doll you should have gotten the little one for Christmas instead of that stupid electronic thing that eats batteries.

D (Difficult) — The The Brunswick Bridge Run 

Brunswick Bridge Run

Not everybody is going to Heaven, and that guy who did the drone shot of that seemingly long flat stretch over the Sidney Lanier Bridge is not looking too likely either. 

If you’ve ever run across a bridge, you know the drill: you run up, you run across, and you run down.

The Sidney Lanier Bridge is 7,780 foot long with the center of the bridge some 480 feet above the Brunswick River below.  To give you a little perspective, Stone Mountain is listed as 825 feet above the surrounding area, and Strava recorded 661 feet of elevation when I did it last.

I really thought I was ready for this. I’ve run up and over the Ohio River in multiple Flying Pig Marathons. I’ve crossed the Ocmulgee River in Macon, the Chattahoochee River in Columbus, and the intercoastal waterway in Ft Lauderdale (where we separated the men from the Floridians). But I was wrong!

The Brunswick Bridge Run is different. You run UP. You run Down. There ain’t no running across.

The Brunswick Bridge Run is certified by the U.S. Track and Field Association as the Toughest 5k in Georgia. Obviously, they have never considered the Ball Buster 5K up Brasstown Bald…. But it was BAD.

Naturally I signed up for the 10K cause Beverly and I aren’t booking an AirBnB and driving all the way to Brunswick for a little up and over the bridge and back 5K. The 10K took me an hour and 6 minutes and I was dying!

That said, The Brunswick Bridge Run was a great event with (4) different ways to participate:

7:00     10k Runners will run first and do a Double Pump running up and over twice

8:30     The Firefighter Challenge. Don’t mess with them. The guy who won ran it in 22:01

9:30     The 5k was Big. Runners will run up, over, and back to the finish line. 

10:30   Walkers will get their chance after the 5K crowd has cleared.

Beverly and I took advantage of the Expo and a Pasta Dinner option on Friday night and I’d advise you to do the same. The weather was cold, wet, and threatening, but the Pasta Dinner under the big tent was a treat with options for chicken alfredo or spaghetti and meatballs.

There are (4) reasons why you want to do this. One: it was fun. Two: it was a great price. Three: this is where you pick up your packet for the race. And Four: this is where you will be driving in Saturday morning for the race. 

ie You are Making a Test Run. Here’s the address: Sidney Lanier Bridge, Highway 17 South at Conservation Way.

Need to know: as you drive towards the Sidney Lanier Bridge from Brunswick, there is a park / parking area on your right (South side) just as you approach the bridge. Slow Down. They’ve got this parking thing down to a drill with police officers and volunteers routing you around the park and into an overflow parking area on the back side.

How to Train: run hills, duh. Just find a nice three-quarter mile hill and run up, and down and back again. Then, Do this again if you’ve signed up for the 10K. .

Gear Tip: Watch the weather and dress accordingly. It was cold and wet the night before, but clear sky, sunny and cool at 7AM on race day. Older Colder I ran with a base layer, long sleeve, and a vest. I saw some younger runners later that morning doing the 5K in shorts and tee shirts!

Where to Stay: Beverly and I booked a little house on AirBnB in the historic district. Explore Georgia lists everything from Hotels to Campsites, so you’ve got options. St Simons, Jekyll, and Sea Island are all close by, just make sure you know how long it might take you to get to the Start line.

Where to do. Last year Beverly and I ate at a seafood restaurant overlooking a dock with a shrimp boat, barefooted on the sand at St Simons Island, took a deck tour of an 1812 Privateer: The Lynx that was wintering in Brunswick…….

Double D (Difficult) — The Flatlanders Canyon Crush

The Flatlanders Canyon Crush takes place at Providence Canyon near Lumpkin.

The Flatlanders Canyon Crush takes place at Providence Canyon near Lumpkin. Photo: Event Website

We intended to write about the inaugural Mount Yonah Vertical Race, but the thought of talking about (2) events in Cleveland, Georgia in the same month just seemed wrong.

Instead, we went back to an old favorite in the SW corner of the state near Lumpkin that we haven’t talked about since March 2022: the Flatlanders Canyon Crush Trail Race.This is an Ultra Sign-up event, but that don’t mean you’ve got to be training for the 155 mile Coastal Georgia Greenway Ultra in October. 

You have (4) options to run this race that range from 5K to 50K distances.

The organizers of the Flatlanders Canyon Crush want you to know that it “is designed to be a great first time trail run for the novice runner that will also challenge the seasoned trail runner at the 1/2 marathon distance.” Looking for more: This year’s Canyon Crush will add a 50k ultra distance. 

The park is affectionally known by the locals as Georgia’s Little Grand Canyon. 

This is a drivable event. Providence Canyon is an hour from Columbus, 2 hours from Atlanta, Macon, Carrollton, Thomasville, and 4 hours from Augusta or Savannah.

Set your GPS for Providence Canyon State Park 8930 Canyon Road, Lumpkin, GA 31815 in Stewart County

Parking $5.00

Go to Trip Advisor and they’re talking about Providence Canyon, Dick’s Creek Falls, Westville, the Bedingfield Inn Historic Site and lots of mountain retreat rentals. Go to Explore Georgia for a place to eat, but they’re taking you over to Americus.

E (Extra) — Races just across the Line

We went surfing on online to see what we could find. So here’s a couple of local to you running events if you live in Columbus or Thomasville:

The War Eagle Run in Auburn, Alabama

      The War Eagle Run is getting Bigger and Faster!   Photo: Event Website

The War Eagle Run is just across the line in Auburn, Alabama, and it offers you a half marathon distance race with a big SEC college football stadium finish. Even from Marietta won this race in 2022, but in 2023 his 6:10 minute mile pace didn’t even get him on the podium! The popularity of the event is growing, and in 2023 there were almost 900 runners. 

Columbus, you’re just minutes away.

The Tallahassee Marathon is just across the line with a full marathon, half, and relay option. 

A runner from the Gulf Winds Track Club totally destroyed my old guy age group with a 1:55 at the Boston Mini Marathon back in October. But only one of these Tallahassee speeders made it to the Top 10 list in the marathon finishing results.

We counted the Top 100 finishers and found 2 from Great Britain plus 12 USA States. Yes most were from Florida, but this event drew runners from Georgia, Florida, South Carolina, Tennessee, Virginia, West Virginia, Wisconsin, Ohio, Maine, Michigan, New Jersey, and California.

The route has changed since I ran this and the new race director is working to eliminate some of the hills in order to make the course faster.

Watch the Sun. If it’s peeking thru at the race start, you probably won’t need that extra layer.

In The News

Carbon-plated running shoes

Carbon-plated shoes give racers an edge. Photo: F. Martin Ramin / The Wall Street Journal

Amanda Loudin is a freelance writer whose features have appeared in the New York Times, Harvard Medicine, Web MD, the Washington Post and others…

January 7-8, 2023       Wall Street Journal     Gear & Gadget D10

When ELIUD KIPCHOGE broke the world marathon record with a 2:01:09 finish in Berlin, it was hard not to notice the fluorescent orange trainers on his feet. Bulbous and gaudy, the Niki Air Zoom Alphafly NEXT% 2 feature a carbon-fiber footplate, promising energy return with each step. 

According to a study in Sports Medicine of 18 athletes published in 2017, depending on a runner’s talent and training, these kind of shoes can quicken your pace by 2% to 3% per kilometer. Now less-stellar runners are asking themselves if their shoes need carbon plates too..

I remember once working in the Auto Aftermarket where the understanding was Speed costs money. How fast do you want to go? In the photo the Nike Air Zoom Alphafly NEXT% 2 will cost you $275, HOKA Carbon X3 $200, and the Speedland GS:TAM with carbon plate $310.

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

Running Gear for colder weather

Click back to look at our Christmas Gifts for Runners 2023 if you got a birthday coming up, and the listing of mostly little things that can be really really Important (sometimes) at the end of our December post. Below is an updated listing of Cold Weather Gear for runners.

Duckworth runner on mountain ridge

Merino Wool

I thought these Sheep to Shelf merino wool products were a little on the warm side for runners, but there it was on their website: the Runner’s World logo. 

Duckworth has line of Made in USA products with everything from women’s racerback tanks to whatever you need to complete your Six Continent Marathon run down in Antarctica. Take note of the lightweight, midweight, or heavyweight description, or you’ll be like me walking around Boy Scout camp years ago wearing something my uncle brought back from Germany. ie a little warm for this part of the world!

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Wool Socks

Last year I went online to the Sock Addict and bought Made in USA running socks from (3) different wool sock brands: Darn Tough Vermont, Wig Wam, and Stega. They’re all good, but each one is different. Now my favorite brand Wright Socks is offering No Blister Wool Running Socks. FYI: You need to air dry running socks. 

 

Skida Lake House Snow Tour

Head Wear

I discovered a little company online up in Vermont called Skida. As in skiing.  I like warm, and my Skida Nordic Headband is light, warm, snug, and holds my sunglasses nice and tight. I chose black, but you’re going to be amazed at the selection of colors in their line. Skida has expanded their offerings with beanies, headbands, hats, bataclavas …

Make sure you understand the difference between Nordic and Alpine. Nordic is warm. Alpine is warmer. 

 

The Hogpen Hill Climb was coming up and the weather took and unexpected turn to the worst.

After realizing that my HD Balaclava was no where to be found and the temperatures were dropping into the low teens, Beverly and I made that emergency stop at the REI Co-op.

We found a Made in USA wind rated, dual layer construction balaclava by a company called Black Strap. This one is pretty, mine is gray!

Long Pants

Soark has produced gear for NYC and other marathons. Their products are well made and attractively priced. I now own a pair of their marathon shorts, a base layer, a wind vest that I got for Christmas, and their cooler weather tights. Mine are black, but their Lyra Running Tights come in an array of colors.    

Gizmo Socks make running gloves with Thermolite Fabric by DuPont

Warm Gloves

I put this item on my Christmas list and Santa came thru. But my coldest start to date is 34 degrees.  Gizmo Socks make running gloves with Thermolite Fabric by DuPont. They are ultralight with a seamless knit that allows for a snug fit with built-in warmth without weight, even when wet. $9 bucks and Made in USA. Socks are too. 

Savannah Bee Company lip balm

Lip Balm

You need this in cold weather too. With our emphasis on Running in Georgia, we thought that something by the Savannah Bee Company would be more interesting. For 4-bucks you can even get it in peach!

Runyon Canyon Tech Trail Hoodie

Running Jacket

Runyon Canyon’s most popular lightweight shirt has been redesigned with a hoodie, thumbholes and reflective features. In addition to these Runyon Canyon Tech Trail Hoodies, the LA brand now offers a line of performance zip hoodies and jackets.

Wind Pants

You wear wind pants on top of your regular running shorts / longs to keep your legs warm.

Beverly and I once left Atlanta in 90 Degree June heat and arrived at Lake Placid wearing shorts and knit shirts in a 45 degree chill. The marathon was Sunday, and we scouted out the sale rack at the local ski shop and came home with a pair of wind pants.

Desota Sports is a known brand among triathletes, and 98% of what they sell is Made in USA.

Outdoor Research Wind Vest

Wind Vest

We reviewed Wind Vests in our November post, and the choices were interesting. Soark makes a lightweight vest for runners that I put on my Christmas List, but we featured a vest by Outdoor Research for you folks in that running group up in Gainesville who like to go out for a run in 10-degree weather. 

Warm Base Layer Shirt

Photo Heater Tundra Base Layer

WSI makes Cold weather clothing for runners and outdoor training which heats up when you wear it. Browse their website, and you’ll see products with names like this Heater Tundra Base Layer that will keep you warm in 0-75 degrees. The WSI line includes socks, compression shorts, glove liners, hoods, long sleeve shirts, pants and more.

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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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And please please please don’t forget to sign up for our FREE monthly e-mail …

Runners’ Links February 2024

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