Check out’s 2023 Race Calendar for some of the Best Running Events and Races in Georgia!

Polar Bear Run, Johnson Ferry Baptist Church, Marietta
Polar Bear Run in East Cobb                                Photo Credit  Johnson Ferry Baptist Church

Best Georgia Running Events January 2023 begins our second year of writing this blog inappropriately named We’ve updated our Georgia Race Calendar of Running Events in Georgia to introduce some new events as well as to reflect old favorites that moved from one month into another.  We’re not just about Atlanta, cause once again we’ve managed to find running events in 34 different Georgia communities.

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 difficult: like this month’s Hogpen Hill Climb up above Helen. Clearly a D.

We sometimes comment on these events as well as provide you with useful links. Like the name of the little hotel across the street from the Start Line in in Albany vs the one you was looking at on the internet that’s 10 miles away.   

We like to showcase running apparel and gear with an emphasis on Made in USA products. Something you folks up in Gainesville should have looked into before heading out in December in 5 degree weather. I mean I saw your photos on Face Book, and not one of you was dressed for sub 40 temperature!

This is a Blog about running in Georgia. And this Post is about some of the Best Georgia Running Events January 2023.

If running in January has a common theme, it’s whether the weather will provide you with a cold crisp day or a death-defying experience.  I’ve met runners from as far away as Oregon at some Georgia Marathons looking for a chance to run in better weather. You Know: Down South.  I also have memories of a January Marathon where it rained for 4-hours in 40 degree temp and there was no medical help at the finish line for you. 

We’ve really looked hard into offering up some good races in January for you to Enjoy plus a little 18K hill climb that’s quite a Challenge. One’s in Marietta, Hot Chocolate’s in Atlanta, the others are down on Jekyll Island and up in Helen.

Got a favorite event you don’t see on our Georgia Race Calendar, shoot us an email like the folks at the Neon Deon up in Duluth and get it on our radar.

A (Atlanta) — Polar Bear Run  in Marietta

There’s a reason this race sells out each year, so if you’re looking for Flat and Fast, the Polar Bear Run is your January 5k race. Click on the link and you’ll see drone footage of runners going past the big Johnson Ferry Baptist Church in East Cobb. And that’s a good thing. Lots of parking, indoor bathrooms, and a hometown crew that’s been setting up this event for years. 

I ran the Polar Bear Run once. Probably have the sweatshirt somewhere around the house. And I still remember my finishing time: 22:01. Not bad for an old guy. It’s just that the other old guys in my age group were way faster! Like I said, if you love flat and fast … you’re going to love this 5k race on the East Cobb side of Marietta.

What I missed last year was the Cub Run for the kids. Lots of running events have that 1 mile Fun Run or something like the Atlanta Track Club was doing for the little ones over at Georgia State’s Football Stadium while you were running their big Thanksgiving Half Marathon. Yeah Calvin: you won your Dash!  But let’s face it. It’s cold outside in January. So the folks over at Johnson Ferry Baptist have come up with a brilliantly obvious idea. They do their little Cub Run INDOORS and out of the friggin cold!

Where to Stay? Your house in Marietta. This is a local favorite and you live here or you live near. But here’s a link to Explore Georgia Marietta anyway..

Registration costs always go up as you get closer to the event. So be sure to check out our 2023 Georgia Race Calendar and plan ahead.

B (Best) — Best Race in Georgia: the Hot Chocolate 15k in Atlanta

I’ve never run the Hot Chocolate Atlanta, but I’ve come close a couple of times. It just looks like a really fun event for people who want to get out on a cold Sunday morning and hang out with their friends afterwards. This is one of those Big City races whose organizers have made it easy for you to park your car and remove one of the biggest hassles to Big City events. Hello Centennial Olympic Park.

The Hot Chocolate Atlanta website has Icons for where to Park, near-by Hotels, Gear Check info, Packet Pick-up options, even a Course Map for the 15k. If you’re local, I’d head out and jog it. After all, there may be a hill or two you might want to know about.

The route starts at Centennial Olympic Park and goes flying south towards the old Atlanta Braves Stadium now Georgia State University Football Stadium aka Center Parc Stadium. From there it heads over to Grant Park and runs practically by my house near Grant Central Pizza. No time to stop, you’ll swing around Historic Oakland Cemetery and run thru the Sweet Auburn District before hightailing it on Highlands over to Central Park and Pine before crossing the 5th Street Bridge. Next you’ll run thru the North Avenue Trade School before heading down to the Finish Line at Centennial Olympic Park

The Hot Chocolate Atlanta Post Race Party is Sweet: complete with fondue, dippables, plus your very own Hot Chocolate. Lots of swag at this event like the jacket one of y’all dropped last year and never responded to my Next Door Post. Still the Babe looks really good in it so What the Hell.

Where to Stay? Anywhere near Centennial Olympic Park. Trip Advisor says you’ve gots lots of options.

C (Complete) —Jekyll Island Marathon is Back for 2023

C  Completes our 2023 Georgia Run Calendar for folks who want to do something more, well interesting… like the the Jekyll Island Marathon.

After surviving 7 degree temperatures in December, the idea of an Island Run just seemed right. The event website proudly announces WE’RE BACK and claims to be the ONLY 26.2 being held on any of Georgia’s barrier islands. That said, it makes you wonder if the folks near Brunswick are unaware of the Skidaway Island Marathon near Savannah, or whether, technically speaking, Skidaway Island ain’t a real barrier island?

Be sure to check out the two somewhat coherent videos on the website. Best I can tell they’re letting you know that they are hard at work planning something in a parking lot near the Start Finish Line?

But the Weekend Schedule of Events is well thought out with where and when to pick-up your race packet on Friday or Saturday at the Westin JI plus a (not recommended) pre-race option if that is what you need. 

Some of the extras for this race are an Expo, and an optional Meet and Greet Pasta Dinner and a pre-race Grab-and-Go breakfast. There’s also an Awards Presentation on the Village Green and a post-race Party at the Westin.

The Maps are good. I was wondering just how they were going to pull off a full marathon on Jekyll and now I know. So unless you’re drunk as a skunk and fall into the marsh at the mile 6 turn by Clam Creek, you’re going to be lapping the island with a little down and back.

And be sure to read the Weather Policy. If God sends a hurricane. You’re on your own.

Where to stay? on the Island. If you remember our October 2022 post on the Under the Oaks race at Jeykll, there’s a little toll booth problem in between you and the Start Line that could ruin your day.

What to do? You’re on a Georgia barrier island with a Westin and beach , but check out Explore Georgia if you’re looking for more options..

D (Difficult) — The Hogpen Hill Climb

The Goal is to see IF you can run this little 18k in your Half Marathon time. But here’s the catch:

The website describes the Hogpen Hill Climb as one of the “Toughest Races in America.”  You’ll start mid-morning at Unicoi State Park, run towards Helen, and then up the Hogpen Gap. 

Photo Credit David Owens and Zachary Ryan

This is a point-to-point race where you’ll grab a hot chocolate and a boiling hot cup of chicken soup at the top before catching the free shuttle back down to the Park. Your registration money goes towards the local Habitat for Humanity, so you’ll feel good writing that check.

Personal: I kicked you know what my first Hogpen Hill Climb and it’s kicked my butt ever since. You may start out surrounded by dead grass in the park, but you can finish looking at icicles and snow at the top. Like the video or pic I shot last year of folks in climbing gear going up and down a frozen waterfall. Strava recorded 2,000 feet elevation gain my last 7 miles of the ascent. If the roads are too icy further up the mountain, the Race Director has an out and back Plan B. It’s bad too. 

Where to Stay? The 18k has an 11am Start, so you can drive up on a Saturday morning, But my recommendation is to book a room, eat a little German Food, maybe even grab a bier and enjoy the weekend. Last year Beverly and I even drove over to near-by Anna Ruby Falls after the race. I’ve stayed at the Riverbend Inn and most recently at the Hofbrau Riverfront Hotel, but you’ve got lots of choices including the cabins at Unicoi State Park.

How to Train: Find the biggest hill in the neighborhood and run up and down, for hours! 

Gear Tip: Be prepared for some Climate Change. So layer up cause Temps drop as you go up up up..

Runners’ Gear: Click on our Gear Page for the Big List of Made in USA products

After experiencing 7 degree temperature in December, we’ve decided to show you some cold weather gear. I’ve owned a couple of these products, but a lot of these are new to me.

Duckworth Merino Wool products have been featured in Runner’s World Magazine

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 is a big line of Made in USA products with everything from women’s racerback tanks to whatever you might need to complete your Seven Continent Marathon run down in Antarctica. Take note of the lightweight, midweight, or heavyweight options, 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!


I’m a visor guy. I run with my sunglasses on top and grab ‘em when I need ‘em.  These Halo Headbands are the real thing. The folks at Halo say they are “technology advanced sweatbands that redirect sweat away from your eyes.” Me, I ordered the new Halo Sport Visor with the Grip Technology. I like their Made in USA visors better, but I’m saving this one for a rainy day when I need the extra grip to keep the visor in place under the rain gear / hoodie..

I’ve run in 90-degree heat. They work.


Can’t wait to try on a pair this winter. Their tights are half as much as what I’m used to paying. These snug fitting midweight SupplexLycra running tights are great for cool weather running and are wind/water resistant and soft.

Wright Socks

My favorite sock brand has some new offerings, and I’m probably going to try out a couple of pairs this winter. Look for this photo on the Wright Socks Merino Wool Page of 3 pairs of socks hanging on a clothes’ line. You need to air dry running socks. 


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

Skida continues to expand their offerings and now has beanies, headbands, hats, bataclavas and a whole lot more. Like hats for Kids. And it’s all locally Made in Vermont.

Track Smith

We like Track Smith for all the right reasons: serious Made in USA running apparel.  But we were surprised when their name came up on a search for a wool running skirt Made in USA. We never did find the running skirt, but we did find socks, hoodies, crews, and something called The Down Easter made with merino wool…. Track Smith describes it as a high-performance mid-layer that protects from biting winds.


WSI makes Cold weather clothing for runners and outdoor training which heats up when you wear it. Stuff regular folks like you and I and the Minnesota Vikings might wear. Go browsing thru their website, and you’ll see products with names like Heater Tundra Base Layer Pants that keep you warm in 0-75 degrees. The WSI line includes socks, compression shorts, glove liners, hoods, long sleeve shirts, pants, and a performance running bra.

We like to talk about a couple of items each month. A couple are affiliate relationships. Most are Made in USA.

In July we put together a Big List of Made in USA running products on our Gear Page.

In October we expanded this list to include cold weather gear and other products for you to put on your Christmas List. 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


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Runners’ Links January 2023

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