Hard time on the Dragon Spine. The H9 is a relatively tough trail running challenge in the Heat and Humidity of Georgia. The marathon race and the 50-mile fat-ass style (Phatt-ass Phifty) trail run continue to be the main race activities. The Skeenah Gap Run (SGR) has been modified from what was offered last year (2013) to be a 34 mile race (~50k). All the courses run along the Coosa Trail and the Dragon-Spine of the Duncan Ridge Trail (DRT). The trails have a few flat sections but most sections of the trails are climbs and descents (some run-able, some not so run-able). Time cutoffs are enforced to ensure runners are capable of moving downcourse at a reasonable pace. The final cutoffs are 11.8 hours for the marathon, 20 hours for the PHA-50, and 15 hours for the SGR. The SGR does not go to Wolfpen Gap and does not traverse the Duncan Ridge Road.
The course will leave Vogel State Park (GA) by way of the Coosa [backcountry] Trail. The Coosa Trail goes down to Wolf Creek crossing (AS 1) and then up to Calf Stomp and Coosa Bald. At Wolf Pen Gap (AS 3) the course moves onto FS Rd 39 and follows the FS road to Bryant Gap. At Bryant Gap the course makes a sharp 180 turn onto the Duncan Ridge Trail and goes back to the top of Coosa Bald. At the top of Coosa Bald it is then all-downhill-from-there and then back to Vogel State Park via FS Roads 107 and 108. The course begins and ends at Vogel State Park so runners should park at that location. Runners are expected to enter and exit the course at the start and end point. The course will be marked with orange reflective flags. Major trail or road junctions will have numerous flags, signs, and/or course marshals. Start time is set for 08:00am on Saturday morning.
The Skeenah Gap marathon Run will leave Vogel State Park (GA) by way of the Coosa [backcountry] Trail. The Coosa Trail goes down to Wolf Creek crossing and then up to Calf Stomp and Coosa Bald. The course does not go to Wolf Pen Gap but instead turns right and follows the Duncan Ridge Trail out to the junction of the BMT and the DRT. A short section of the course follows the BMT down to Skeenah Gap, which is the turn-around point for the course. After the turn-around at Skeenah Gap, runners retrace their steps along the DRT back to Coosa Bald and then take the Coosa Trail and FS Roads 107 and 108 to the finish. SGR runners will use the same aid points as the normal marathon runners, and additional aid points at Fish Gap and Skeenah Gap. Start time is set for 07:30am on Saturday morning. The course length is roughly 34 miles, or a long 50k.
H9 50M Fat Ass
Sign up for the 50-mile run (Phatt-ass Phifty) is accomplished by emailing the RD indicating that you are interested in running the 50M. This course is hard and subject to whimsical increases in elevation gain if too many runners finish the previous year. Note that this run is a fat ass style activity so you are responsible for your own logistics (except for those sections that run on the normal marathon course) and there is a group size limit per FS rules. Because you are using sections of the marathon course, you will need to sign up for the marathon. If you do not have good orientation skills or have a pacer with good path-following skills, do not consider running this route. The last 10 miles from Mulky Gap to Vogel are very tough - a beat down on top of a beat down. Knowing that the wheels often come off the bus here, we do track runners closely as they traverse this home stretch.
The government agencies hosting the race may shut down a permitted race for many reasons. Public use policy for the Gainsville Forests is still evolving and is generally more stringent than other regions. We will make an effort to manage expectations in terms of weather. But if you are laying out significant travel costs (lodging, flights, etc.), have a long trail run “Plan B” option in your back pocket.
In tiny print: This is meant to be a hot weather race in humid conditions. If you have concerns about your heat acclimation, please let us know. The heat is not as intense as Death Valley, but the humid conditions will likely give you some type of heat rash.
Race category changes
You can change your race category up until the gun goes off. After that you will be recorded in the category in which you left the start line. Other runners expect to run against the field that started with them. Changing the field after the gun would be a change in the race conditions.
Price and price increases
There is a price increase in early July. This is just encouragement for you to let me know that you plan to run, so I can get t-shirts ordered. The entry price includes a 5% fee to the US Forest Service and a 10% fee to GA State Parks. Parking at Vogel State Park is not included.
Local time: 10:55 PM