"Fall" into the Cohuttas with 3 days of autumnal running and riding bliss
This 3 day trail event is open to mountain bikers as well as trail runners! I love both sports, and I'm excited to announce an event that finally allows us all to play together on the same trails, especially as the two sports are alike in so many ways. It's three days of trail running, one day of mountain biking, and two days of racing. Bring your family and friends, fire up some campfires for smores, and experience one of North Georgia's most beautiful state parks and the surrounding area!
Where? Fort Mountain State Park, at the Lake Pavilion (Group Shelter)
181 Fort Mountain Park Road
Chatsworth, GA 30705
When? October 29 - 31, 2021
Friday evening: 8.2 Mile Run (Sunset run - not a race)
Saturday: 50 Mile Run, 62 Mile Ride, ITT (Independent Time Trial)
Sunday: Half Marathon Run
Sign up for 1 day or challenge yourself for the full weekend. Bring your mountain bike. If you've participated in the Bearhoti Trail Fest, expect MORE out of this one. More miles, more views, more challenges, more ways to enjoy the area, more rewards... If you are new to the 3-day format, you are in for an amazing weekend of trail running and mountain biking in the Lower Cohutta Mountains!
So let's break this down - the schedule and courses:
Friday @ 4:30pm @ the Lake Pavilion (Check-in @ 4pm)
8.2 mile run. This is not a race, but our course will be marked. This is a loop course with over 1500ft gain to watch the sunset (6:45pm) from the West Overlook. And the Cool Springs Overlook is nearby - it's tough to skip views! Yes, you could drive to these, but where's the fun in that! Families with small children and other non-runners are encouraged to drive up and meet us for the sunset. The return run will be as the light fades to darkness, so you’ll definitely want to bring a headlamp. This is meant to be a relaxed, fun run/hike, especially if you're signed up for...
Saturday @ the Lake Pavilion
6:55am - 62 Mile Riders (Check-in @ 6am)
7am - 50 Mile Runners (Check-in @ 6am)
52 miles of running or 62 miles of riding. 9600ft / 11,000ft gain. This race showcases nearly every bit of the Lower Cohuttas that you can squeeze into a race by making a big ol' loop through them. Except for the park itself, which is what mountain bikers will add at the end. Everyone will quickly leave the park for the Pinhoti Trail and then follow the Pinhoti for the next 21 miles. In this section, you'll see beautiful creeks and hardwood forests and wonderful views of the Cohutta Wilderness, plus Grassy, Potatopatch, and Bald Mountains (you'll visit those later!).
Next you'll join Lower Bear Creek if running or Upper Bear if biking. Runners will see Georgia's second largest deciduous tree, the Gennett Popular, and you'll stomp through Bear and Barnes Creeks as you make your way up to the Bear Creek Overlook at the 26 mile mark. Bikers will rejoin runners just before crossing Barnes Creek. From here, you'll get to pause and look across the valley at Fort Mountain, stoked after realizing you just ran or rode all that!
Outside of a few short stretches of gravel road, everything has been primarily single track with some double track. Until now. You're at the Wilderness, and we have to stick to roads. If you're biking, you get to enjoy the gravel grind.
Just after mile 33, runners and bikers will part ways again. Runners will visit Lake Conasauga and the Songbird Trail, wonderful relief after so much climbing on nearly 7 miles of gravel road (sorry). The Songbird Trail terminates at Grassy, and here you have the only repeated section of the course, a 1/2 - 1 mi out-and-back to the fire-tower. Bikers will continue straight to the Grassy Tower, skipping the lake and Songbird trails. All participants will need to punch their bibs to show proof of visiting the tower! After the tower, it's time to head home, but not before experiencing the rocky, technical Windy Gap trail. This is designated as a motorbike trail, but I've never seen anyone on dirt-bikes riding it - just the parts that fall off, and the folks I've talked to on 4-wheelers tell stories about it. You'll see why!
Once you're off Windy Gap, you'll reach 2 miles of paved country road through Hasslers Mill. It's a scenic area through rolling countryside at the foot of the mountains, a welcome respite after a wild run or ride down Windy Gap. Then it's back to the State Park along about 1.5miles of (not nice) gravel road.
It's somewhere in here, you'll remember that this race didn't start in the valley. Time to find your climbing legs once more and make your way up Fort Mountain to finish at the Lake.
Note for those doing the 62 Mile Bike Ride:
You get the added pleasure of experiencing Fort Mountain State Park's beautiful and difficult 30o trails before returning to the Finish.
Sunday @ 10am @ the Lake Pavilion (Check-in @ 9am)
12.2 miles. 2500ft gain. This race is a loop course that will take you along some of the outer reaches of Fort Mountain State Park. Although we don't leave the park, you'll definitely feel like you're in a remote wilderness for part of this race. This route will use a combination of trails and offer beautiful views, cascading creeks, and amazing geology. And of course you get to summit Fort Mountain, see the rock tower, and admire the ancient "fort"!
The question is...will you race for one day or two? How about adding that sunset shake-out run? Ready to bring your bike and your trail shoes for combining sports?
All running routes will be on AllTrails, and the biking route will be on RideWithGPS. I highly recommend downloading the GPX files to your device so you can stay on course for each day. Signage and flagging will be at trail or road intersections only. (Routes may change slightly depending on the Forest Service.)
Saturday’s Bald Bearhoti 50 Mile Race:
Saturday's Bald Bearhoti 62 Mile Race (Riding):
Sunday's No 'Hoti Half Marathon:
Aid stops for Saturday
6 Full Aid Stations/SAG Stops
Water/Gatorade stop at 37 miles.
Water/Gatorade stop at 56.3 miles (bikes only).
Aid stops for Sunday
Water/Gatorade stop at 4.7 miles.
Full aid at 9 miles.
Mile Marker 14.8, 26.7 and along Cool Springs-Holly Creek Rd (43-45)
The first two crew points are for runners only, but the last "point" along the paved road is open for bike crews as well.
Due to parking constraints and Covid, crews will not share space with or be allowed at aid stations.
Mile 14.8 (Runner support only) is the Pinhoti 2 trailhead closest to Shakerag Rd. Park to one side and do not block the trail or road. Be kind and be smart.
Mile Marker 26.7 (Runner support only) is the Bear Creek Spur trailhead parking area just passed the Bear Creek Overlook. DO NOT PARK AT THE OVERLOOK. Do not block the trail or access to the parking area, and don't block travel up and down the road. Runners and bicyclists will need to pass through this area, so leave them space. Mulberry Gap also runs shuttles (with trailers) here. Be kind and be smart.
To minimize runner/biker/vehicular conflict, crews are not allowed farther up the mountain than this point.
Mile Marker 43-45 (Everyone) Crewing along the paved section can be anywhere from where Windy Gap meets CCC Camp Rd (there's a big area here, but it can get muddy) until the turn off of Cool Springs-Holly Creek Rd to Emery Creek Rd. Respect private property and easements, stay out of the road, and don't block intersections. Don't go down Emery Creek Rd - it's unpaved ickyness, and the folks in the neighborhood back there don't like strangers (people on foot or bikes are OK, but they wouldn't like a ton of traffic clogging their road). Again, be kind and be smart.
Saturday runners only.
Runners may pick up a safety runner between Mile Marker 43 and 45, along the paved section of the course. If you are trying for Top 3, you will not be allowed a safety runner. If you pick up a safety runner and happen to place in the Top 3, then you'll get 4th or whatever place.
Runners reaching Cool Springs-Holly Creek Rd at 4pm and onward will likely benefit from having safety runners. (Sunset or later finish.)
Both Runners and Bikers may use drop bags
Aid Station/SAG 3 - Pinhoti 1 (Mile 19)
Aid Station/SAG 5 - Lake Conasauga (Mile 33)
Runners may drop headlamps at the first aid station/SAG, but keep in mind you might need one later. If you plan to do this, make sure you put your name on your headlamp.
Each runner/rider is allowed a single gallon-sized ziplock-style clear bag, and a single small tri-style bag for one pair of shoes. Assume it's going to rain and that they'll sit out in the open. Large bags and bins of any size will be refused, as station volunteers will have other stuff to transport.
Drop bags must be clearly marked with Bib#, Name, and Aid Station-SAG #/Location.
Example: "# 88 - Susan Burkley - AS 5/Lake Conasauga" (or just "Lake" is fine)
Sunset is at 6:45pm, so keep that in mind when planning which bag should hold your headlamp/spare batteries.
IMPORTANT: Drop bags will return with the aid station/SAG after it closes, and I don't mail bags to folks after events. (It's expensive and a pain in the rear.) Do not put anything in them that you care about. Don't put car keys or phones or wedding rings in drop bags and assume they'll make back to the Finish line before you do. Chances are, you'll get to the Finish line before your bags do. Since there is a Sunday event, Saturday racers may pick up drop bags anytime on Sunday morning.
Cut-offs for Saturday:
This event isn't meant to be hiked. This is a race. Come prepared to run or ride. There will be hard cut-offs for running and riding (you must leave no later than the times listed) at the following stations:
Aid Station/SAG 1 (Tatum Lead) - 8:40am (Bikes) / 9:30am (Runners): +1:40/+2:30 Hrs Course time. The first section will give you a taste of what's to follow while you're still fairly close to the State Park. Decision time.
Aid Station/SAG 2 (Pinhoti 3) - 9:35am (Bikes) / 10:45am (Runners): +2:35 / +3:45 Hrs Course time. Another decision. The course won't get easier. Runner crews are about 1.5mi down the road, and it's still pretty easy to get back to the park....
Aid Station/SAG 3 (Pinhoti 1) - 10:40am (Bikes) / 12:45pm (Runners): +3:40 / +5:45 Hrs Course time.
Aid Station/SAG 4 (Upper Bear) - 12noon (Bikes) / 3:30pm (Runners): +5 / +8:30 Hrs Course time. Yet another decision. The next stretch is 7 miles of gravel road, and runners should not take longer than 2 hrs to complete, even if power hiking. If in doubt, any runner needing to drop from their race should try to find rides with crews at this point.
There is no truly hard cut-off at Aid Station/SAG 5 (Lake Conasauga) because it's so far away, but if you're riding and not there by 1:20pm (+6:20 Hrs), then you should phone a friend for pickup at the bottom of Windy Gap. Runners not there (and gone) by 5:30pm (+10:30 Hrs Course time) should chat up the volunteers for a ride....
Aid Station/SAG 6 (Emery Creek) - 3:45pm (Bikes) / 8:30pm (Runners): +8:45 / +13:30 Hrs Course time. Any runners needing to drop from their race should try to find rides with crews along the paved section.
Course/Race Cut-off - 7pm (Bikes) / 12am - Midnight (Runners): +12 / 17 Hrs Course time.
Volunteers reserve the right to cut you off, at any station, if they feel your safety, or the safety of others, is uncertain.
(This may get tweaked between now and race day, but the overall course cut-off will not change or be reduced.)
Cut-off for Sunday: You have 4 hrs to complete the course, which assumes a 19:40 min/mile average pace. This day is a race and not meant to be hiked in its entirety. Come prepared to run.
What if you need to drop from the race?
YOU MUST TELL SOMEONE (Aid Station/SAG, Finish Station, Me personally) IF YOU NEED TO DROP. Tell Aid Station 2/4/5 if you are certain your crew is going to pick you up after you stop at the station. We are manually tracking you from start to finish, and if all of a sudden you've vanished, I will personally call emergency contacts (awkward), and then we'll end up calling EMS to try to find you. They launch full scale wilderness search and rescues, and it won't be cool if you're hanging out in a hot tub at an AirBnB while two counties are scouring the woods looking for you, and you get to pay for that. Seriously, we won't judge - things happen. This isn't an easy course. We just need to know you're alive and safe.
Keep in mind that if you want to drop, volunteers may or may not be able to take you back to the race start, and they certainly won't be able to do so until their aid station closes. If you want to drop because you're feeling "uncomfortable", you'll only be putting yourself at risk to exposure if you sit around waiting for volunteers to help. Depending on where you are on the course, moving forward might be your best and safest option.
Runner/rider crews are your best resource for exiting the course early and safely. Unfortunately, runner crews probably won't have bike racks....
If you are racing on bike, put this number in your phone "just in case" - Mulberry Gap: 706-698-2865. They are located off Conasauga Rd, and you can hang a left on the road once you descend from Pinhoti 3, where the 2nd SAG is. Runners can do this, too, but since they're allowed crews just after this station, I highly encourage runners to use those resources instead. Now, Mulberry probably won't bring you all the way back to Fort Mountain, but you'll at least be able to use their phone and grab a beer while you wait for friends to come get you.
Here's what you get along with fine mountain racing and running:
*Finisher award for all Saturday and Sunday racers (special award for completing both days - ITT excluded from multiday awards)
*Saturday Bike Divisions: Regular Guy/Gal and Singlespeed (no E-bikes allowed)
*Top 3 Guy/Gal awards for Saturday and Sunday top performers in each race
*Basic hydration: water, Gatorade, coke
*Access to first aid
*Craft beer (likely from Oskar Blues Brewing)
*Saturday and Sunday events are timed
Hilary Kelley (https://www.hilarykart.com/shop) has done our art for the last few years, and it's wonderful! Keep in mind that this race is held right before the holidays, so check her out for gift ideas!
Here is a link to all Event Communications in case participants did not receive emails: To be established as we draw closer to the event...
Optional. The aid stations will only do manual and for safety reasons. The Bald Bearhoti is meant to be a weekend of grassroots trail running and mountain biking. Although parts of the course have great cell reception, it's a hassle to have volunteers work with hotspots and timing devices when they really need to be helping runners and bikers.
Having said that, I know that many riders may have a Garmin SPOT/inReach or similar device. I'm working with the folks at Trackleaders to centrally track all riders and runners who want tracking and either have a GPS tracking device or wish to rent one from them ($60-$70 if I recall). They are awesome, and their lag time is reasonable given the terrain, though this depends on the ping intervals set on the device. Plus it's GPS and not cell. This is a great option for runners and riders with crews, so they can better plan when to meet you, and there are of course safety and peace of mind benefits in knowing that folks can find you.
Trackleaders charges $20 per participant, which you'll have to cover when you register your device or rent. This is a potential $20 to $80 extra beyond race fees. If I see that there is a lot of interest for this, I'll look at building the registration (maybe even also the rental) fee into the costs for the future running of this race.
Bikers Only note...
This is a mountain bike course, so you will need a mountain bike. You'll be on everything from pavement to technical trail. I mean, you can bring a skinny tire/gravel bike, and I'll let you have a go, but I'm not coming to get you when you realize the error of your ways.
Make sure you have spare tubes and CO2/pump and a complete repair kit. This course will test your bike as well as you, and you should be prepared for anything.
IF YOU ARE SUPER SPEEDY, you will likely miss the SAG station opening times! If you are faster than a 5:30 / 11 mph avg pace, then that's awesome, but expect to miss some support along the way.
Should you wish to email/message me about the desired bike specs for completing the course, please know that I'm terrible with bike specs! I ride a 26" mid-90s completely home-grown Mongoose Singlespeed MTB on which I HAVE A BLAST. I've taken it all over the Cohuttas many times and across North Georgia for TNGA once. If The Old 'Goose and I can have a good time (obviously not quickly) around these mountains, you can, too, with whatever it is you ride. Just come ride and have fun!
Food and Lodging
Fort Mountain State Park is certainly the obvious choice for lodging, as they have a great campground and recently renovated cabins. Staying here puts you in walking/riding distance from the Start/Finish.
Mulberry Gap is a bit farther away but a great choice. Adventurer friendly, home cooking, and a fully stocked beer fridge. Check them out at Mulberry Gap Adventure Basecamp - Ellijay, GA.
There are multiple AirBnBs and rental houses in the area, and some are practically along the course. Google is your friend - I have no specific recommendations on this.
There is primitive camping in the National Forest. You can either use a more structured campground (none are fancy like Fort Mountain) or dispersed camping. Keep in mind the farther UP in the forest you go, the longer it will take to get to the Park. Maps make places look close, but forest road travel adds time.
The closest towns will be Chatsworth and Ellijay. There is a corner store at the junction of Hwy 52 and Cool Springs-Holly Creek Rd if you need basics and fuel.
Volunteers are needed for this event!
SERIOUSLY! This is Run the Cohuttas largest event, and I can't do it alone! Please email me if you’re interested in supporting, especially on Saturday! Available jobs include parking, aid manning, marshaling, shuttling, and safety sweeping (for each day). Volunteers who work Saturday are automatically eligible to race for free on Sunday. As thank you, volunteer gifts include race swag or, if you don't want to run Sunday, you may choose a comp entry to the 2022 Rabun Half Marathon in June or other upcoming Run The Cohuttas event. Two days of volunteering lands you two comp entries, 3 days -> 3 entries. Volunteers get free entry into any event I put on within a year of volunteering. Please join the friends group on Facebook to get updates and interact with other volunteers and supporters: https://www.facebook.com/groups/runthecohuttas, or of course email me with any questions or other arrangements you'd like to make.
Please give this link a look to see what we're doing to reduce the possible transmission of Covid-19: https://docs.google.com/document/d/14ktSyyO-86nTPyU0cFhs711QxfKnPmrK60OSE99-NAk/edit?usp=sharing This applies to all Run the Cohuttas events as well as the Rabun Half Marathon, so if you read something that doesn't quite make sense for this race, that's why.
USFS, local, and state park permits are in progress, and this event will be insured.
Although this event will be held rain or shine, if the weather truly works against us (eg. severe winter weather alerts, USFS directives), I will either cancel or attempt to reschedule.
Run the Cohuttas is a local grassroots organization and cannot offer refunds, transfers, or deferments. This includes if the event is cancelled due to last minute inclement weather. Every registration fee goes toward the betterment of this and other Run the Cohuttas events as well as the on-going trail maintenance efforts in the area. Bike registrations will go towards the Cartecay Youth MTB Team, once I've covered basic race costs. Your understanding is appreciated!
Day-of registration is allowed - CASH-ONLY. Just add $5 to whatever is listed because my ability to make change will be limited. So just round up a little!
ITT (Independent Time Trial) for riders and runners
So what's this? Covid provided us with other ways to enjoy racing and riding, and this became one of my favorite methods to enjoy a course! This gem is from the bicycling world, but I figured I'd offer this to all participants who wish to do the course independently from the race itself but still be tracked on the results. GPS is required for this. THIS IS NOT VIRTUAL! You still ride or run the ACTUAL course, but you do so on your own schedule, alone or with friends. The honor system is on you to meet in-course cut-offs, safety runner guidelines, and execute crew support. However, you will need to provide proof (GPS track, public Strava/Garmin link, etc) of doing the course as depicted below by the course cut-off times, and you will need to take a selfie at Grassy Tower and provide it when you upload your results Ultrasignup. (Please feel free to email me everything at email@example.com if you run into snags!)
When you send me these, go ahead and confirm your mailing address so that I can ship you your swag and finisher award if you've opted for these things. If your run or ride exceeds the course cut-off, I'll send your swag but not a finisher award. Please keep in mind that I will ship these out after November 1st, so if you do your ITT before the physical running of the event, there will be a delay in getting your stuff. Please also share your photos and your ride/run report so I can publicly share these also!
If you opt for doing an ITT and you have a GPS tracker already, please announce and share the link ahead of time so we can all track you! If you don't, I'm likely going to set something up with Trackleaders, so you'll be able to rent one from them. They'll need at least a 2 week heads-up for tracking (longer for rentals), so keep that in mind. (This is a "maybe", as I'm not sure how long the courses stay "open".) The only thing more run than racing an event is tracking folks who are racing!
Although you can technically do an ITT at anytime, if you want an official time with swag, you'll need to register before Oct 15. If you want an official time and no swag, you may do your ITT at anytime after you register and before Dec 31. This means that if you want to be on 2021's results, you have to do your ITT in 2021. I will send awards out after Nov 1. If you register after Oct 15, there will be a delay in getting you your award, as I'll have to order it as a once-off (I'll keep you informed along the way).
Can I race an ITT more than once? Sure! I can definitely see doing this if you race it but fall short of the cut-off(s) and want to give it another go in order to satisfy your desire to complete it and get your finisher award. If you're on the leaderboard as completing the event but want to try to better your time, go for it! (You only get 1 set of swag and finisher award, though.)
How does this affect day-of course records? It doesn't. Day-of is just that. Race day offers its own set of challenges, and podium positions are hard-earned. ITT and race day records will be kept separately.
Have questions? Email me at firstname.lastname@example.org
The deadline to register and be GUARANTEED a T-shirt and other swaggy items is October 15.