There is nothing like training for a race in spring. The weather isn’t too hot or too cold. A warm breeze seems to carry you across the pavement on a bike or run. Since daylight savings time has ended, you’ll have more time after work to get outdoors. Whether running, cycling, “tri-ing,” or sloshing through mud, mark your calendar for one of these spring races in Atlanta.
1. April 11: Run the River
This run offers the luxury of a fast, flat race course with the scenic beauty of the Chattahoochee River. The race follows Riverside Drive on an entirely paved course, and lush green trees shade you throughout the run. Your breathing is accompanied by the babbling sounds of the river. Both the 5K and 10K are certified USATF courses. An added perk: the race benefits the HomeStretch mission that provides housing and skills to North Fulton homeless families.
2. April 18: Sweetwater 420 Fest 5K
The best reward for running this 5K is the promise of a killer post-race party. As the company says, “we’ve listened to our loyal fans and beer immediately after the race is back!” So plan on crossing the finish line and swizzling down a cold one (if you’re 21 and older). The USATF certified course means this could be your Peachtree qualifier, and with a flat course you’re bound to clock a fast time. You'll circle Downtown with a start and end at Centennial Olympic Park. Plus all participants get a $5 off coupon for the Sweetwater 420 Fest .
3. April 26: Historic Roswell Criterium
Imagine 75 to 150 cyclists racing the same 1.2-mile circle over and over again for a set time between 30 to 90 minutes. That’s a criterium: no frills but all intensity in an action-packed day of races for cyclists ranging from pros to juniors. The USA Cycling official course circles historic Roswell looping around the bustling Canton Street and Green Street. While most of it is flat, the 3 percent grade on the back side of the course offers a chance for quad burning attacks. You won’t want to miss the Women’s Pro Pace at 4 p.m. and the Men’s Pro Race at 6 p.m. Many of the nearby restaurants will be featuring specials, so dine on a patio and watch the flashes of colored jerseys streak by your table.
4. May 2-3: Atlanta Tough Mudder
Just 40 minutes outside of Atlanta, you’ll find the new “dirty South” at Atlanta’s Tough Mudder. Bouckaert Farm has an appealing, pleasant location on the banks of the Chattahoochee River, but that’s where the beauty ends. Race participants will conquer this badass obstacle challenge as they climb ropes, lift planks, slosh through mud-filled pools, and dodge 10,000 volt wires. Choose from Saturday or Sunday to put your fitness to the test. Those who finish celebrate with a mud-covered body and beer.
5. May 3: triPATHlon
There aren’t many triathlons, scratch that—any triathlons—_that you can race _Intown, much less Buckhead. But the TriPATHlon sprint takes place in beautiful Chastain Park. The pool swim makes it an easy transition for a first-time triathlete, while the bike and run course are moderately hilly and will lead you by the luxe “Better Homes and Gardens” style houses of Buckhead. A 400-yard swim, 15 -mile bike, and 5K run are a perfect primer to gauge your fitness at the start of triathlon season.
6. May 30: Tour de Cure
Whether a beginner cyclist or a seasoned rider, the Tour de Cure offers six different distances ranging from 14 miles to a century. The day of cycling benefits the American Diabetes Association’s mission of raising money for diabetes research. On each course, you’ll pedal over the rolling hills of Douglasville, and the longer the distance, the more challenging your ride will be. The 65-mile metric century and 100-miler take you through Fairburn’s popular Silk Sheets cycling ride, where a smooth riding road ribbons across scenic farmland. All routes include SAG vehicles and rest stops for snacks and drinks.