This morning I did the Race for the Fallen Half Marathon at Red Top Mountain. It is a trail race that benefits the Police Benevolent Foundation.
So I was up pretty early for the 50 mile trip to Red Top Mountain State Park. Luckily traffic at 5:30 AM Saturday in the Atlanta area is not too bad. It is a huge park and it is way off the beaten path. I actually enjoyed the peacefulness of the park after checking in, it was still dark and for the most part all I heard was crickets. It was nice.
It was a small race, probably less than 200 people so all the logistics were pretty simple and easy. We all gathered as the sun was rising over the trees and we were off!
This was a trail race. We had all kinds of surfaces: started on the road for a mile or so and once in the woods, dirt, roots, gravel, and hills. There were plenty of hills to make this a challenging course. For the most part, woods are woods. And within a certain geographic area in the country, they all look pretty much the same when you are in them.
As the race progressed, I could tell more and more that I was still not 100% since getting the cold. It was just harder. They had 5-6 aid stations with water gatorade, orange slices, and bananas. A few of them were out of gatorade by the time I go to them but that is pretty typical for smaller races especially for back of the pack folks.
I did a little research about the the name of this park "Red Top Mountain", the "red" comes from the iron ore content. At one point during the race, we were going around a lake and I noticed the "red" across the lake - I guess that is what they meant?
Also, I did come across a very unique tree. I have never seen this on a tree before so I thought it was worth a picture.
The only odd thing that happened during this race was the mile markers they had out on the course. I recalled at mile 1 and mile 2, my Garmin was spot on. I don't think I checked every mile after that but at mile marker 6, my Garmin had 6.75 miles. Hmmm... And then at mile marker 7, Garmin had 7.8 miles. This actually plays mind games on you when this happens on the course. Which is right? Is my Garmin broken? Then, somebody had a whoops when laying the course and mile marker 10 was before mile marker 9 (they swapped them). By that point I had no clue what was what. However, in the end, when I crossed the finish line, my Garmin read right around 13 miles :) I guess the lesson here is to not trust mile markers!