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Mystery Mountain Marathon

A GUTS trail race at Fort Mountain State Park.
id_5227641
Difficulty: Strenuous
Length: 26 miles
Duration: Full day

Overview :  Mystery Mountain Marathon is a race which takes place in October at Fort Mountain State Park outside of Chatsworth, Georgia. Run by... more »

Tips:  Do not expect a great finishing time. I went with a tech shirt and shorts. The weather was cooler with plenty of moisture in the air. ... more »

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Points of Interest

Site of Mystery Mountain Marathon. Pay $5.00 entry fee and no alcohol, dogs on leash, no firearms. The usual park rules.

The park is a great trip for the entire family. History, scenery, a lake, plenty of trails, it's got it all including a lake monster. Here's Kim and Kena doing the MMM Lake Monster dinner call.

2. Race HQ and Packet Pickup and Finish

Left once inside park and then left again about a mile later. Get to the Group Shelter by the lake. Race HQ. This is my second race at this venue (Double Top) and I like it.

3. Signs and Markers

The race course is very well marked as are the trails for hiking. Blue markers for the 12 mile course, which marathoners run together with the 12-milers, then you switch to orange beginning at powerline for marathon only. Confidence markers all over the course with multiple markings at intersections. No problems staying on course. The trails are... More

4. The Start

The start line is on the entry road at the bottom of the hill. Run around the parking lot to your left and uphill passing group shelter on your right.

You can see from the photos that it was just getting light and headlamps were not needed.

5. Lap Around Lake to Start

As you pass the group shelter stay straight towards the lake and pickup the Lake Trail. Blue blaze.

6. Across the road and into the woods.

You cross a road at the dam and then get into the woods. This section had several hills, rocks, roots and was typical of North Georgia single-track. I did not get any pictures worthwhile because of lighting and 100 runners bearing down on me. Maybe next time.

7. Stone Tower AS

You pop out of the woods at a road, take a left and cross road going uphill. Stone Tower AS is ahead on right. You are 3.5 miles in.

8. West Overlook Trail

Left out of AS and then a quick right uphill onto West Overlook Trail. Rocky and wide trail takes you up the hill towards the overlook.

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9. The Tower

After running around for a while you arrive at the Tower. The guy told me it's the highest point on the course. Take a left and go down the hill.

10. The Wall

This downhill is well-worn as it is the trail between the Wall and the Tower. Good old stone steps. Sorry, no pictures. You arrive at The Wall complete with information boards.

11. Bottom of Hill

At the bottom of the hill, you see Stone Tower AS again. A hard left and you're back in the woods.

12. Overlook

There were several overlooks along this portion of the course. It was a cloudy and cool day for us.

13. The Gahuti Trail

You wander through the woods and then catch the Gahuti Trail.

14. The Band Plays

The foliage changes and you know your in a moist area and then you hear music. A BAND!!! Kim Pike brought a band into the woods for her race. What a great RD. Really cool. Thanks to the guys in the band. Cross the bridge and go right.

15. Park Entrance AS

You arrive at a road crossing near the park entrance and another AS. Mile 8. Go left and down steps on your right.

16. Water Cooler Part One

Your first pass through Water Cooler AS. An unmanned water only stop at a crossing. Mile 9.8.

17. Crossing Powerline

You come to the powerline, but go straight across. You're about halfway up and there's no shaving miles here. You've got to run another couple of miles and then start at the bottom! Oh, joy!

18. Powerline Aid Station

This is funtime. You get to run up the powerline at mile 11 and then down the powerline at mile 25. I just like saying, "Powerline." The one lady looked at me like I was some kind of an idiot tourist. "Ma'am, I refuse to run fast or take this seriously." Mile 11.

19. Top of Powerline

These guys were hilarious. Drinking apple cider all day. I saw them before my descent hours later and had a sip. MMMM, that cider is good stuff. Right turn at the top.

20. The 301

After the powerline climb the trail pops out on another easement, the 301 Trail. Take a right and follow the markers. Pretty easy section. Wide open. I like the Most Difficult sign. I was so scared.

21. Downhill of Despair

The trail continues in a clockwise direction and then you begin a descent. Loose dirt and gravel and rocks and in and out of the woods. When will it end? The guy in front of me slipped, hit, rolled and popped back up. I told him he looked like a pro.

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22. Heading to Stables AS

The trail bottoms out and now you are on a wide path. Bikes and horses allowed.

23. Stables AS

Finally, another AS. I believe thay had music playing. Thank you, thank you, thank you. Mile 13.3. It seemed further than that. Just a long and lonely road. Take a hard right and keep moving.

24. On way to Far Out AS

This section was long and lonely. The field is spread out and the course is not challenging. Just one of those meandering wide ATV roads that seems to take forever.

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25. Far Out AS

Finally, I thought the hard part is over. Mile 18.7. Then the woman I was running with said there was a 2 mile climb ahead, "Como?" Kim Pike I need to speak with you, "A 2 mile climb?"

26. Gravel Road to Yellow Gate

A short downhill, right onto the gravel road and a few curves brings you to the yellow gate and 'the climb.'

27. Conti's Climb to Frank's Falls

You begin with a little steep uphill. Then at an intersection where I met two fellow Chattanoogans. A left and then the real climb begins and basically it never ends. Good luck.

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28. Switchback to Wooden Bridge

About halfway, Frank's Falls, the trail hits a couple of small switchbacks and you begin to think it'll level out. Guess again, you climb more and just as steeply.

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29. Right onto Bridge

This is the Band Played On section from earlier in the day. Take a right over the bridge. The RDs husband was blocking this trail earlier in the day. I'm guessing his job was to change the course marking when the sweep passed.

30. Last Gasp AS

Back across the road again. More pretzels and peanut butter sandwiches. Mile 22.3. Time to quit screwing around and finish this race.

31. Water Cooler

This is your second pass at this AS. Mile 24.6. One more short climb then a huge downhill and around the lake.

32. Powerline Downhill

Here it is. The easiest part of the whole day. All downhill.

33. Powerline AS to Lake

1 mile to go. Right turn at the bottom of descent, then right onto a very brief road section, a left towards the lake.

34. The Lake Trail

Run the lake Trail counterclockwise this time. You can see the pavilion and hear the crowd on the far side.

I stopped and took one picture on the way in. I was just plain old tired. What a course, what a race. Man, that was tough.

35. The Finishing Stretch

All the way around the lake to beach. A right onto the asphalt and into the finish.

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36. Waddya get?

Besides a workout? Chili with cornbread, a sweet pint glass, custom finisher's medal and the obligatory shirt.

And a friend who set a new CR!