Hogpen Hill Climb
The Hogpen Hill Climb returns to Helen in 2024. Photo Racing towards the top in 2018.

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Last year we talked about the Jekyll Island Marathon, Hot Chocolate Atlanta, and a number of other events. You can read about ‘em if you wish in our January 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 new 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 Hogpen Hill Climb up in Helen. 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 January 2024.

A (Atlanta) — Run The ATL

Run The ATL

Our Top Pick for Running in Atlanta is a Club Run.

Run The ATL is a club event, and according to what we saw online they have 2,500 members! You join their Face Book Group, and you sign up on Eventbrite.

I don’t know much about Eventbrite, but they got lots going on. When we checked their website mid-December they had postings for Christmas Party(s), New Year Eve Party, Date Nights, Pajama Party, Art Events and Lord knows what else cause the listings never stopped.

RE: Run The ATL.  I like this event. The organizers pick interesting routes thru intown neighborhoods, along the Beltline, and in and out of Atlanta parks like that couple in the photo. 

I’ve made two attempts thus far to run the entire 19 miles of the Atlanta Beltline including paved sections, unpaved sections, abandoned railroad lines… and I recognize some of the photos on this website as places I have run.

Run The ATL is a chance to explore even more neighborhoods and the organizers promise every year is completely different.

“In previous years, we have done random out and backs, historical tours of Atlanta, and yes, one year, taking a Marta train was part of the experience.”

Photo Credit: FaceBook

The group organizes a Quarterly Run, and this one is Winter #RunTheATL – 2024. The Winter Run is 14-16 miles. And the Cost is $20 – $110 which kind of blows my mind, but I suspect that this is all explained in the registration process. 

The organizers want you to know that You’re Invited. “We would love for you to join us in these adventures. We always find a new route. Explore new roads and trails and other stuff we find in the city.”

Have Questions: “If you like, we have a FaceBook page and there are lots of helpful people there that will answer questions and/or run with you and show you the ropes.”

Here’s some questions I would ask:

Does the group stay together on this run?

Will you have water / sports drink / snacks along the course?

Will I need a hydration backpack like the runners are wearing in some of your photos?

Is this a paved course or will I be running thru water or mud?

Do I need to bring an ID? (Assume Yes if you want that Free Beer at the end of the run.)

Gear Tip: You need to know what kind of course you will be running on and in what kind of weather. The average temperature in Atlanta in January ranges from a low of 33 to a high of 53 so you want to dress accordingly for a 14-16 mile run. Personally, I’d layer up.

Interested? Don’t put this off. There were only 56 spots left for this January 14th event when we checked on this mid-December.

Need to Know: You will be starting and ending at Box Car – Hop City in the West End. I had no idea Hop City had so many locations. There’s a bunch of them including one just down the Beltline in Krog Street Market. This event starts out at the Hop City location in West End. So set your GPS for 1000 White Street SW Atlanta, GA 30310

Remember: there is a Free craft beer for all finishers! 

Where to stay: Intown or at your friend’s house near West End.

What to do: Grab a beer and hang out with all of your new friends after you run the ATL. Live on the Northside? You are going to be surprised at everything that’s happening on this side of town in Atlanta’s West End

FYI their Run the ATL Summer Event is July 14th, 2024. It is described as the classic 20-mile loop around the city.

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 Classic City Marathon in Athens 

Classic City Marathon in Athens
We picked the inaugural Classic City Marathon in Athens as the Best Georgia Running Event January 2024.  

This is a brand new race on a brand new course in a little college town with a big reputation, so we’ll describe it as best we can: You will be running up and down hills. Period.

The Classic City Marathon is the work of the Athens Road Runners club and not some traveling circus like many of those big city events. 

“Welcome to Athens, Georgia; known as the “Classic City.” Since 1806, Athens has been the city of many starts. Public education started here, with the University of Georgia becoming the first land-grant institution.” That was a relation of my Grandmother Louise Morrill Wald. Reference to The Morrill Land Grant College Act of 1862.

“The B-52’s and REM both started their careers in venues across town. And garden clubs? They started here, too!” Now it’s Your Turn.

The Classic City Marathon starts in historic downtown Athens and travels through all our beautiful city streets, vibrant communities, and stunning greenways! 

“According to legend, in ancient Greece a messenger, Pheidippides, was sent from Marathon to Athens to announce a victory in the battle of Marathon. For centuries runners have been testing themselves in the marathon and half marathon distances. In 2024, we’re bringing the marathon lore to Athens, Georgia”

I hate to flaunt my degree from the LeConte School of History at the University of Georgia, not to mention the fact that you misspelled Phidippides, you know, like Jeff Galloways running store in Atlanta, but the first marathon distance race in history was at the revised Olympic Games in Athens, Greece in 1896.

Before that you was just running for your life!

I mean seriously, you need to Fact Check these people before you let those copy writers from the J School loose!

One of the things that I like about this event is that they didn’t throw a 5K in just to turn some coins. I mean, I still remember standing in line at the expo in —– listening to the worker behind the counter telling the — lady in front of me that she was getting the Same T-Shirt as the Marathoners!

There are three ways to run the Classic City Marathon. Register for the full marathon, the Athena Half Marathon, or run the marathon in a relay-style with a team of four. I like that. If I could locate the Top 4 75 year olds from this year’s Peachtree Road Race in Atlanta, they’d bust 4-hours wide open!

You know they’ve worked hard to make this a big event when you see big name sponsors like Lululemon. You lined up next to their Atlanta store for December’s Westside 10 for the Lululemon pre-race warm up. That was a fun, and I’ll bet you this one will be too! 

Gear Tip: The one thing I truly learned from my 4 ½ years at UGA was layering up. It’s Cold as Doo-Doo in the early morning then you’ve peeled back to tee shirts after lunch. You are running in January an hour south of the North Georgia mountains. Practice layering up and tying that long sleeve around your waist or investing in a hoodie at Goodwill and chunking it once things warm up.

The Expo’s at Creature Comfort Brewing, just don’t you linger too long like that admonition in Proverbs 23, or you’ll be wasted on race day.

Need to know: this is the second time this month that I have looked over an event website that did not tell you where the Start / Finish line was. Hint: It’s in the Historic Downtown. Maybe they tell you this once you register. But I honestly do not know?

Where to Stay: Trip Advisor noted 28 places to stay. I’d prioritize your search by how much and how close to the Classic City Marathon Start / Finish line in the Historic Downtown.

Where to eat: When I went to UGA, you walked across campus to the Varsity. Explore Georgia has pages of choices from familiar brands to unique local eateries.

C (Complete) —The Run for Aviation Marathon

C  Completes our 2023 Georgia Run Calendar for folks who want to do something more, well interesting… like the Run for Aviation Marathon at Robins Air Force Base near Macon..

Run for Aviation Marathon winner

Run for Aviation Marathon takes place at Robins AFB in Warner Robins, Georgia.

You are running on an Air Force Base. Please read the information of the website carefully:

Sir: The 28th Annual Museum of Aviation Foundation Marathon AKA Run for Aviation Marathon, Half-Marathon, 5K Run/Walk, and Para Athletes Race will be held at the Museum of Aviation on Saturday, January 13, 2024.  The races will be run on Robins Air Force Base next to the Museum of Aviation. The marathon course is USA Track and Field certified making it a Boston Marathon qualifier. 

What’s missing from all of the information on their much-improved website presentation is

WHY YOU SHOULD WANT TO RUN THIS EVENT.

My thinking is Boston! You run this race in January and on a good day you qualify. 

Plan B: 

You make this your test run so you know what you need to do to get ready for Albany in March. Fastest Marathon I ever ran was on this double loop course. It’s an Air Force Base. It’s mostly flat with a little up or down thrown into the landscaping to keep it interesting.

Boston is why you run this race. Last year there were runners who came here from:

Georgia

Iowa

Tennessee

Indiana

Florida

Illinois

South Carolina

Massachusetts

Texas

North Carolina

Michigan

Missouri

Alabama

Ohio

That’s 15 States plus the District of Columbia (Washington DC), and Canada!

You might not be familiar with this event, but the marathon runners looking for a Boston Qualifier have the Museum of Aviation Marathon / Run for Aviation Marathon on their radar.

68 runners competed in the Run for Aviation Marathon in 2023.

11 Runners have BQ listed next to their finishing times!

That’s 1 in 6 with a Boston Qualifying time!

Here’s my memory of the course: You line up next to the Museum of Aviation. You Start on a little downhill lane that leads to the loop road. Here you’ll turn left and run on a mostly closed loop road around the base.

You will run pass gigantic hangers where men work on huge airplanes. You’ll run up a little hill near the end of a long runway at the edge of the base. You’ll pass thru a security area into a wooded wetland that will make you wonder where the Heck you are?

You’ll run along an area where folks park their horses? past a little lake, pond, whatever, and married housing before you spot the museum in the distance and go flying up that little hill to the finish line (if you are a Halfer)…or on to Lap 2 if you are doing the Full.

Run for Aviation Marathon para athletes

The Run for Aviation Marathon event was recognized by Well+Good as one of the top handcycle marathons in the US. 

Read the instructions on the Website: Due to Base security regulations, everyone must present an official picture ID during registration/packet pickup.  Picture ID must remain on your person at all times during the race.

That one is new to me. When I ran this event, they kept your photo ID / Driver’s License while you ran the race. That way they knew who was still out on the course. I mean in theory they were right. The other 90% of the time they were probably on the telephone talking with somebody who just forgot about it and drove home!

Need to Know: Packet pick-up is the morning of the race for non-military participants. This is a big place. Give yourself at least an hour to park the car, walk over to the Museum, pick up your packet, find a bathroom, and get to the Start Line.

Funny. I didn’t see an address on the Run for Aviation website. Set your GPS for Museum of Aviation 1942 Heritage Blvd, Robins AFB, GA 31098

Weather: I’ve run this event in 28 degrees, 40 and raining, 50 and sunshine. Watch the weather forecast. If it’s 28 degrees at the race start with no clouds, wear a throw shirt or second layer. It will warm up quickly. If it’s 40 degrees and raining, it’s probably gonna suck.

How to Train: It’s not just the distance. You need to get comfortable staying out there for the 2-3-4+ hours you think it is going to take you to complete your race. You might want to wear a cap. Ain’t no shade trees on a U.S. Air Force base.

Where to stay: Growing up near the old Historic Area of Macon, I thought Warner Robins had all of the charm of Atlanta’s Buford Highway. You can check ‘em out on Explore Georgia. You got (24) chain motels and not a single BnB.

What to do: Assuming you can still walk and carry on a coherent conversation after this event, the Museum is BIG. And if Building 1 isn’t enough, they’ve got more.  Trip Advisor’s got a zillion places to eat in Warner Robins, so you ain’t going hungry. Heading South after the race? I’d check out that Mennonite eatery in Perry: The Oil Lamp Restaurant. Hurry! Closes at 2PM on Saturday

D (Difficult) — The Hogpen Hill Climb

Hogpen Hill Climb Helen Georgia

The Hogpen Hill Climb start returns to the Alpine theme city of Helen in 2024.

Best Georgia Running Events January 2024 include the Hogpen Hill Climb.

Malissa and Jeff use to run this race every January, then she’d go on to doing Ironman distance Triathlons the rest of the year with Dreams of Kona on her mind. Me, I’ve run the Hogpen Hill Climb 4-5 times and I can tell you that it is Doable but Difficult. 

The race used to start at Unicoi State Park. But this year the Hogpen Hill Climb returns to Helen. I like that. Book a room in Helen. Walk to the Start Line. Then family and friends can just wait to see if the good folks from the Methodist Church bring you back.

Hogpen Hill Climb frozen waterfall climber with ice picks

I mean, beats last time I did the Hogpen Hill Climb when Beverly insisted on driving over, parking the car at some overlook a half mile down, and hiking up to the finish line. Me, I was enthralled by the guys with the ice picks climbing up that frozen waterfall across the street, but Beverly was sooooo cold she practically ran back to car after I finished.

The Goal is to see IF you can run this little (now) 17k 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.”  

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

Gear Tip: Temps drop as you go up the Hogpen Hill Climb. It may be 40 degrees at the start line. It may be 20 degrees at the Top…and snowing! Remember, you dress for the Finish Line!

This is a point-to-point race so IF you make to the summit, they’ll be ready for you with hot chocolate and a boiling hot cup of homemade chicken soup.

Don’t worry about the weather. If the roads are too icy further up the mountain, the Race Director has an out and back Plan B. It’s bad too. 

The Hogpen Hill Climb has an 11am Start, so you could 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. Here’s a nice little piece on visiting Helen by Aliston. 

Where to Stay: Explore Georgia notes the Valhalla Resort Hotel in Helen, Georgia, but you ain’t exactly walking distance to the Start Line and I’ll bet you can’t afford it either. Beverly and I have stayed at the Riverbend Inn and most recently at the Hofbrau Riverfront Hotel, but you’ve got lots of choices including the cabins at nearby Unicoi State Park. Here a link to Helen.org

Where to eat. I’m really disappointed with Explore Georgia on this one. They note Bodensee but not Muller’s or several other German Restaurants. I jump into Muller’s when I want a Vienna Coffee, breakfast, or something quick. I go to Bodensee when I want to order a bier and just enjoy a meal with Fraulein. 

Double D (Difficult) — The Guale Preserve Endurance Run 

Guale Preserve Endurance Run on St Simons Island

We send an email each month to Coach Q. Now I know what he does. This is one of his Quintanar Running Company events.

The first thing I need to tell you about the Guale Preserve Endurance Run is that it takes place on January 1st, but with an 8:00 Start you can still get in a couple of football games before you have to call it a day.

The second thing is that it takes place on a loop trail on St Simons Island. 

The third thing you need to know is that the Guale Preserve Endurance Run is limited to 100 runners so if you’re interested, you don’t need to be just thinking about it.

There are 2 ways to run this event. You can sign up for a 3 hour or a 6 hour run. You under 18? Stay home with Mama, they aren’t selling race insurance for no good reason. My thinking is book a room on St Simons and make a weekend of this like Beverly and I did in Brunswick for the Bridge Run back in February. Cause nothing beats a hot shower after a long run!

Additional race information can be found at http://www.qrunningco.com/gper.

E (Extra) — Races just across the Line

We went surfing on online to see what we could find. So here’s a drivable event if you had a house full of family and friends over for Christmas and are just looking for an excuse to get away for the weekend. 

      

Daufuskie Island Marathon Finishers Medal

Daufuskie Island is a short drive from Savannah.

Daufuskie Island Marathon           26.2      13.1           Daufuskie Island, South Carolina

Just off the coast of Hilton Head, SC lies a unique place, Daufuskie Island. Experience this island by running the beautiful shorelines and witnessing the breath taking views.

FYI You’re going to be taking a ferry boat over to an island.

The people you are going to meet are the descendants of the African Slaves brought over to work the plantations who are trying to preserve their legacy from the —holes who want to take it away. You really want to look into doing this event.

Drivable: You are 3 hours or so from Atlanta, Brunswick or Albany, 168 miles from Macon, 114 from Augusta, and 15 minutes from Savannah

In The News

Runners in Central Park. Photo Credit Ben Rayner / New York Times

Runners in Central Park. Photo Credit Ben Rayner / New York Times

Gretchen Renyolds is a writer for the Washington Post. She wrote this article recently that was picked up by the Sunday AJC entitled “How to find your personal fat burning zone”.

November 5    Atlanta Journal Constitution   Living & Arts E3

I generally skim over headlines like this, but this piece was different. The article was based on the work of Issac Geuvara, a guest lecturer for the Department of Health Sciences at the Autonomous University of Cuidad, who led new research on fat burning.

The article describes our fuel sources and how we consume them. The competitive runner will understand what happens as he pushes the pace. The rest of us know someone who could use a little encouragement regarding what to do to have a healthier you.

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. 

 

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, 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 I’m hoping that I’ll be trying them out soon. 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.

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 January 2024

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