The Most Epic and Beautiful Trail Races in Georgia

A runner on the Quest for the Crest race course.
A runner on the Quest for the Crest race course. Courtesy of Sean Blanton
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“Do crazy awesome stuff, push ourselves and inspire others to do the same.”

That’s the Run Bum mentality according to Sean Blanton, aka “Run Bum.” While Blanton may live in Atlanta, he spends his weekdays jetsetting to epic adventure destinations to trail run, skydive, and scale mountains.

“I blow all my money traveling the world to run mountains and trails. I've run 30-plus races in the alps, 100-plus ultra marathons, and I love racing anything that’s scenic. I hate when I travel to a race that’s visually boring, so I pick my races based on beauty.”

Blanton created Run Bum Races in 2012 and pays tribute to his local roots by hosting most of them in the state of Georgia. Five of the eight trail races are set in Georgia State Parks, where Blanton can showcase the beauty of Georgia’s outdoors. Here we talk with the Run Bum about his epic race series.

Sean Blanton at the summit of Black Rock Mountain- the course for "Battle for Black Rock."
Sean Blanton at the summit of Black Rock Mountain- the course for "Battle for Black Rock." Sean Blanton

How do you pick your race routes?

I start with an area I think would be good for a race. Then I go exploring, sometimes running hundreds of miles of trails to pick the best. I seek out all the key views and experiences I want people to have during the race. Then I have to connect the dots in a way that flows; It's really an art. No one wants a painting that has all the beauty in one corner. So you have to blend it together to make art. The aid stations, the trails, the after party, etc., all make up the experience.

You often host races in the middle of nowhere. Any particular reason?

For me I don't want big races. I purposely host in remote places because I don't want more people on the trail; that takes away from the beauty of the remoteness. People always ask why I have random distances. I always tell them, "The race course finishes when you're done experiencing what I want you to. I don’t base my races on numbers, I base it on an experience that will change your life."

Blanton skydiving, another one of his passions.
Blanton skydiving, another one of his passions. Courtesy of Sean Blanton

What do you think draws runners to your race? I think most people see my races as a challenge. Some of them are harder races because it’s more of mountain running, which really is hiking up and jogging down. Some people see up and down and think, That's too hard . But they have never tried trail or mountain running.

Your races have a wide variety of long and short distances. Why?

I love this because we see people come run the 10k and then catch the bug and come run the 50k the following year. I think most people are afraid to run on trails. So these races are a great way to join people and be safe while being in the woods.

Blanton running down the Gornergrat Mountains in Switzerland.
Blanton running down the Gornergrat Mountains in Switzerland. Sean Blanton

Talk more about the “Run Bum” mentality?

Basically my life begins at the end of my comfort zone. I see too many people that never push themselves or do anything "uncomfortable.” Join a local run club, an outdoor club, go try yoga... The hardest thing to do is to take the first step.

How do you define yourself?

I'm a runner, a hiker, a traveler, a skydiver, a writer, an entertainer, an artist and a good friend. I think people try and define themselves by what they do. I think they shouldn't.

Do you have to be hardcore trail runners to do one of your races?

Not at all! I have people who've never run on trails, never run more than a 5k before come and run my races. They all have a blast. The only essential is that if you should have an open mind.

View from the summit of the Georgia Death Race.
View from the summit of the Georgia Death Race. Courtesy of Run Bum Races

What races would you suggest are more geared for beginners?

The two races we have that are the easiest transition from road to trail are theHelen Holiday Half Marathon and theYeti Nightmare 5 and 10 miler. The benefit of trail running is that people don't talk much about time or pace, just about how much fun they have.

What about this Georgia Death Race ? It’s touted as the most difficult course East of the Rockies.

It’s a different beast. I literally built the course to cripple people and make them not finish. It’s 68-ish miles in north Georgia, point-to-point, with a staggering 40,000 feet of elevation change. It's like summiting Mount Denali, the highest mountain in North America, from sea level and back down. We have about a 60 percent finisher rate and runners must qualify for the race. This is your deep end of the pool.

The Grayson Highlands race course.
The Grayson Highlands race course. Courtesy of Run Bum Races

If someone could only do one of your races, what would you suggest?

The Grayson Highlands Half Marathon in Southern Virginia might be the greatest half marathon on the planet. It has wild miniature ponies, 360-degree mountain views, and epic singletrack!

But if you’re into hard stuff...the Quest for the Crest 50K. It’s a point-to-point 50K trail race with 12,000 feet of gain and 12,000 feet descent. It’s rocky and so technical. At certain points in the race, you’re on all fours. It's another one of the hardest races I put on.

Sean Blanton

Hooked on doing a race with Run Bum? You can see the full schedule of races and his new Tours (trail running destination trips) on If you need any more convincing, just watch the amazing videos Sean makes for each race.

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