7:00 am Start
7 hour time limit
Half Marathon: 9:00 am Start
4.5 hour time limit
5k: 10:30 am Start
All races start and finish on the field adjoining the Chattahoochee River. See the Race Details section for directions to the start and parking info.
ALL RACES HAVE A MANDATORY PRE RACE MEETING 20 MINUTES BEFORE THE START. THE MEETING WILL GO OVER THE COURSE AND MAKE SURE YOU DONT' GET LOST.
Runners can pickup their packet either Friday night (4/13/18) or on race day (4/14/18). Packet pickup will be available from 5 pm - 8 pm at the start/finish area. Race day packet pickup will be available starting at 6:15 am on 4/14/18 - this will also be at the start/finish area.
PARKING & DIRECTIONS:
Enter Helen on Hwy 17/75/Main Street. You will turn on Brucken Strasse. (There is a Circle K Gas station at the corner.) The address of the Circle K gas station is 7934 S Main St, Helen, GA 30545, so if you put that into your GPS you will get to the intersection of Brucken Strasse and Hwy 17/75/Main Street. Once at this intersection, drive down Brucken Strasse about 300 meters. You will cross the Chattahoochee River. IMMEDIATELY after the bridge, there is a private drive on your left. Turn left into the private drive (there will be a Helenback sign to direct you). At the fork, keep left to continue along the river. Drive about 200 meters to get to the start/finish field and the parking area. We will have parking for about 150 cars. When the start/finish field is full, cars will need to park across the river at the outlet mall (we will have signs/parking attendants directing you). If you park across the river, simply walk back to Brucken Strasse, cross the bridge over the river, and walk down the path to the start/finish field (it's about a .25 mile walk from the overflow parking to the start/finish field).
Our preferred lodging partner is Unicoi State Park. The have numerous lodging options available (rooms at the Lodge, cabins, and campsites) and the park is only minutes from the start and finish of the race.
Unicoi State Park has offered participants in the Helenback Race Series as special promotional rate to stay at the Lodge. Use rate code "Helen" when you call or book online for April 28 & 29 to get a room for $99 (plus taxes and fees). We appreciate your support of Unicoi State Park- without the park's help the race would not be possible. Book now!
5k: (1st half is Hell, 2nd half is Heaven)
Starting from the Chattahoochee field, the first mile will get the juices flowing with almost 500 feet of vertical climb, up Norba Way and a gravel service road to the entrance of the Unicoi State Park trails. From the top you’ll see a panoramic views of Helen, the Sautee Valley and Yonah Mountain. The next 2 miles you’ll enjoy rolling and downhill trails to the finish.
Half Marathon: From the staging area head north with 400 feet of vertical climb up a gravel service road and into Unicoi State Park. Take these rolling hills down into Unicoi and turn right onto the Bottoms Loop Trail. From here you will climb up to GA HWY 356 at mile 3 and turn left to cross over the Smith Creek Dam. Run along the Lake Trail making your way to your first aid station at mile 4. From here you will continue clockwise around the lake towards the visitors center. Once here you will turn left and head uphill towards the second aid station. Stock up here!! You will not have a full aid station until returning to this one after the next 3 miles. From this second aid station you will be following the Smith Creek Trail climbing to the top of Hickory Nut Ridge. At the upper terminus you will have climbed over 1,000 vertical feet. Take water here only if you need it, access is limited to what our sweepers can hike in. From here you leave Smith Creek Trail and cross over to old Forest Service Road 690 and take this trail back downhill into Unicoi State Park and a fully stocked aid station 1.5 miles away. The trail leads around the lake and crosses back over GA-356 and down to the large open field that contains parking for the trout stream and mountain bike trails. This is the best location for crew to set up and cheer on runners as they come through. From here runners have a 4 mile push to the end but the running will continue on a downward slope. Enjoy a victory beer and soak your feet in the Chattahoochee River.
Marathon: (1st half is Hell, 2nd half is Heaven)
The race begins at the staging area and heads north with 400 feet of vertical climb up a gravel service road into Unicoi State Park. Follow the rolling hills down into Unicoi and turn right onto the Bottoms Loop Trail. From here, you will climb up to GA HWY 356 at mile 3 and will turn left to cross over the Smith Creek Dam.
Get a nice view of the water as you run along the Lake Trail making your way to your first aid station at mile 4.5. Refuel here whether you need it or not: the next, fully-stocked aid station is uphill 8 miles away at the 12.5 mile mark (though there is also a smaller aid station with water only at the 9.5 mile mark).
From the first aid station, you will road run up Anna Ruby Falls Road toward the the falls and the Anna Ruby Falls Visitor Center. The Visitor Center and this road section will be closed to cars due to park hours. Get a good view of the falls and drop back onto the trail system by taking the Smith Creek Trail to the next trail intersection and our very limited aid station (water only) at mile mark 9.5.
Push up the climb on FS 690 toward our second complete aid station at mile mark 12.5. From this aid station. you will make the final push to the turnaround at the intersection of Tray Mountain Road and the Appalachian Trail. You’re at mile 15 and you're done climbing!
Make you way back through the forest toward the last aid station you came from less than 3 miles away. Continue downhill on FS 690 into Unicoi State Park. You will have two more aid stations before making the final 3-mile push to the finish to enjoy a victory beer and soak your feet in the Chattahoochee River.
There will be several aid stations for the Marathon & Half Marathon. Runners should expect to get aid every 4-6 miles. If you need water/food at a greater frequency than the aid stations, you should bring your own water bottle/hydration pack and food. Go to www.helenbackraceseries.com for full details.
Local time: 7:20 PM