|Coming down the Pinhoti trail into the Cohutta Overlook.|
This is a beautiful course with amazing scenery and unique flora. You will run by numerous inspirational overlooks, traverse the rolling switchbacks of Turkey Mountain, between the Double Top Mountains, pass by scenic overlook at headwaters of Bear Creek, and run the ridgeline encircling Cashes Valley. The course leaves Ft Mountain State Park and follows the northern section of the Pinhoti Trail until it joins the Benton Mackaye Trail. Runners opting for the shorter run (100k) will turn around and return down the Pinhoti Trail. The 100 mile runners will be treated to the vistas of Flat Top Mountain, Fowler Mountain, and Bear Den Mountains before turning around near Bushy Head Gap to return to Ft Mountain. Runners will be given 34 hours to complete the course.
I signed up for the 100K and I'm really looking forward to it. Since Harbison 50K in January, I have been able to maintain a good weekly mileage and have had quality long training runs, including a preview run in late January on the course of the Double Top itself.
I drove up to Fort Mountain Park near Chatworth, GA with my friend, Rox and there we met several other future race mates also looking to get some miles on the new race course. Fort Mountain is the start of the race and is also the site of a wonderful Fall trail marathon called, Mystery Mountain Marathon ( a must-do, put it on your calendar!) Perry couldn't be there, but his right hand person, Vikena Yutz and volunteer-extraordinaire, Tom Wilson, were there to get us situated and going. Kena ran with us and Tom met us along the way at the designated future aid station locations along the course. Some of us were running 20 or so and others, myself included, were looking to get in about 40 miles that day.
|I think you can appreciate the grade of the |
Pinhoti Connector from this photo.
This is looking up with the runners
coming down the trail.
Anyway, Tom and his big smile welcomed us and we were all still more or less together. Once off the Pinhoti Connector, we hit a forest road for a while and then hit a series of creeks that will be early on in the race, about 8 or 9 miles into the race. When we crossed these little streams back in January, they were pretty shallow even though a couple of them were about shin deep. It's been a little bit of a rainy week here in Georgia this week with more to come tomorrow and race day, so it's going to be impossible not to cross those creeks without getting at least ankle deep in water. I'm sure my Smartwool socks will hold up.
|Cohutta Overlook. I'm afraid the view isn't gonna be much |
better on race day either, but on a clear day it is spectacular.
|John and Tom|
I think Perry's intention for the future is to get more of the race on single track, but much of that I understand is still pending permission from the various authorities along the way. The 100 milers will get to "enjoy" some additional climbing and they will also end up on the Benton McKaye trail for a good stretch before their turn around point at Hudson Gap.
Weather forecast for Saturday is rain and highs in the 60's with low's Saturday night in the mid-30's. Dressing for this will be a challenge as it is expected to be some what balmy and warm at the start in the high 50's. Luckily, I don't mind the rain when it's not too cold, and hopefully it will blow through by the end of the afternoon and for the last bit of daylight I will enjoy on the course.
There's a little over 80 runners signed up split up pretty evenly between the 100K and the 100 miler. It's gonna be a bit lonely at times on the course, but at least we'll be able to see each other after the turn around point.
I'm hoping to cover the course in around 14-15 hours, but you can never know what to expect. Check back here early next week for a full report and if you're up for it, send me a tweet during the day on Saturday. I'll have my iphone with me and every time it chimes, I'll know some one out there is virtually cheering me on.
Course maps: 100K Map 1 100K Map 2
100K Course Point Chart