Friday, April 22, 2011

The Sweetwater 50K

Last weekend, Mike Stadnisky ran the Sweetwater 50K in Atlanta. Here is his report:

I was in Atlanta this past weekend visiting family and I ran the Sweetwater 50K. If you ever get a chance, I would grab your fiddle and follow the devil down to Georgia

- it is a killer race!

In the first 3 miles, I saw the sun rise over Sparks reservoir, slid down and rope-climbed out of a gulley running with water, and dunked into a hip-deep creek. Unfortunately, the river crossing was cut out of the course as we got torrential rains Friday night in Atlanta (which came up to Cville on Saturday and turned Riverview Park into a sand-dune). The river was flowing great, so well in fact, it inundated the riverside trail at several points.

The first half of the loop is wonderful, moderately technical singletrack following the eponymous creek, falls, and past ruins of an old mill. This part of the course is beautiful, and is best compared to a highlight reel of the best parts of the Potomac Heritage Trail and Great Falls trails.

And then there is the second part of the course, which is a meat grinder. The website modestly states that the course includes "some area outside the park nicknamed Top of the World (TOTW) and Powerlines. These areas are where runners will find some of the more challenging terrain." The grades and relentlessness of the parabolic, pain-inducing powerline are truly fantastic. You simply *cannot* run up these hills - you climb and then you bomb down the other side, sip and repeat. It's worth it though, from TOTW, you can see the downtown Atlanta skyline and the course mercifully returns to singletrack, giving way to shag for the last 2 miles.

Then you do the loop again, mentally steeling yourself for the powerline section. The race was a blast, my race-day nutrition was finally in place, I (uncharacteristically) tapered - all adding up to taking third in my age group/28th overall with 5:57:49.77.

Get down there sometime and run it!

-Mike