When I found out that I would be in Atlanta for Christmas, the first thing I did was try to find a race or group run to crash while I was there. I love meeting new runners and know that Atlanta has a great running community.
Someone had mentioned that the Yeti Trail Runners were hosting a trail marathon on December 28th. I did not have Georgia on my states yet, so this was the perfect opportunity to get another marathon in and the best part about this race was that it was FREE (sort of, as each participant was asked to bring 3 bottles of beer or food to share)!
I stalked the Facebook page for info about the race and found out that this was just a low key, beer and food party with some trail running thrown in, and with 183 people saying they were coming, this looked to be a blast. Was it ever.
The race took place in Douglasville, GA about a 40 minute drive from my sister's house in Tucker. It was pouring down rain and she had no interest in driving me out there. I lucked out that her friend of probably 20+ years, Javier DeJesus, is a bad ass trail runner, lives around the corner from her, and was going to the event, so I was able to hitch a ride out with him! THANKS JAVI!!
Javi picked me up a 6:30am and we drove in the pouring rain. I started to wonder if anyone would even show up in this kind of weather, but to my surprise, there were a lot of people there. We got there, brought our offerings to the cooler and before we knew it Race Director, Jason Green was giving instructions about the course and we were off.
Waiting to start!
This was going to be a wet and muddy run!
People waiting for the start.
The beer bounty! Not a Diet Coke in there! Ha Ha!
This race was really not a race at all. There were no winners as people could come and go as they pleased, running as many loops as they wanted. The marathon was a 4 loop course. Each loop was a little under 7 miles (except the last loop, which was shorter (I heard). Most of the course was single track and with all that rain, the trails were nice and muddy. There were also lots of leaves covering them, so you had to be very careful not to trip on the rocks and roots below.
The course was beautiful!
Early into the run, I hooked up with David and Rebecca. Two local runners who knew the course really well. David was giving me all the history of the trails we were running. He told me how we were running on what once was Indian land, about how Tyler Perry now owns a bunch of it and he even showed me an old broken down moonshine still nestled way back in the woods.
David and Rebecca at one of the many water crossings we had.
By the time we had finished our first loop, the rain had let up. As we came into the aid station/finish, there were already a lot of people just hanging out eating pizza and drinking beer. At this point I though I had lost David and Rebecca, so I headed back out for loop #2. Within a couple minutes David and Rebecca had caught up to me. David still carrying a full can of beer! Ha Ha!
Rebecca and I crossing another little lake!
Please note the huge mud spot on my butt where I fell on loop #1 coming down one of the muddy hills!
Climbing one of the hills. I think this is the hill that David opened his beer...
...and enjoyed it for a while longer!
It was so fun meeting new people on the trail!
This was part of the old moonshine still I mentioned earlier.
Whatever you do David, DON'T DROP THE BEER!!
By the time we hit the 3rd water crossing on the 2nd loop, I could feel a huge blister forming on the bottom of my big toe on my left foot. It was fine at that point, but I was wondering how bad it would get on the 3rd or 4th loops.
Water was the word of the day!
I was having a blast though!
Oh look! More water!
This hill was so slippery! I pretty much slid down it like I was skiing, and grabbed that tree to avoid falling. These ladies used the buddy system.
This was Indian land way back when.
I always forget how much harder (yet much more fun) trails are than roads. After the second loop the party had started. I saw Javi and he said most people only do 2 loops and then the drinking and socializing begins. He was right. Since he was my ride and he was already done doing his 2 loops, I decided to stop at 2 loops so he would not have to wait for me. He did say he would wait, but once I saw the food and all the people, I was OK stopping at 2 loops for a nice 13.8 miles. This was not a timed event so it would not count towards my 50 States anyway, so I just joined the party!
There was food on top of food!! The pizza was good and the baked goods were amazing! Thanks everyone!
My new pal David and I at the finish!
This is some of the best swag I have gotten from a race (a buff, pint glass and a hilarious koozie), and this race was free!!
I had an incredible time at this race. If I am in Atlanta (or Nashville) next year, I will definitely do this again! Thank you Jason Green and all of the Yeti Trail Runners for making this happen and letting this out-of-towner crash your party! I had a blast!