Are you afraid of the dark?
What about running in the woods at night, with only the narrow beam of a headlamp guiding you through single-track trails, and over rooted and rocky terrain?
What if there were Yetis?
There will be at the 3 rd annual Yeti NIGHTmare. This 5 and 10-miler race begins just after sunset at 8 p.m. on March 8 at Sweetwater Creek State Park . You’ll hurdle logs, dodge through trees, and run along the Chattahoochee River on a predominately flat course-in the dark.
Only a running group like the Yeti Trail Runners could be responsible for creating night race like this one: it’s not competitive, finishers are rewarded with pint glasses of beer, and you may even see runners in Yeti costumes. In fact, the only real requirements for this race are that you must wear a headlamp. The goal of the race is to smile and have fun, because you’re racing with the Yetis!
One needs to merely consider the motto for the Yeti Trail Runners: “Taking trail running to a new low.” This non-traditional running group has been around since 1988, back when trail running and ultra-distance were only done by “crazy people.” And while ultra runners still may be a little crazy even now, the Yetis are proud of their title.
Founder Jason Green explains the Yeti Trail Runners: “We log long trail miles and drink obscene amounts of beer.” The goal of the group is to make trail running—long trail running—fun and approachable to anyone.
Part of this is through the group’s annual races. In addition to the Yeti NIGHTmare, there’s the Yeti Heartbreaker Trail Marathon (which took place on Valentine's Day) and the Yeti Snakebite 50/50 (which will take place on May 5). “We put a big emphasis on post-race activities,” said Green. “We like to create an atmosphere where participants can share stories, catch up with old friends, and connect with new ones.”
Yeti races promise to have a killer post-race party, coupled with low registration fees. For instance, the Yeti NIGHTmare 5-miler is $39 and the 10-miler is $47. The Yeti Snakebite 50-mile race is $49. Even with the low entry fee, the group raises thousands of dollars for their charity Because of You, which provides support to homeless children. Find more info and sign up for their races here.
Besides saving you money on races, the Yetis are serious about saving trails. Green started building and maintaining a trail from Sweetwater Creek State Park to the Chattahoochee connection about 6 years ago. Along the way, he trained members of the Yetis in Trail Solutions and Maintenance. As of 2014, the Yeti Trail Runners have hand-built 15 miles of new trail and helped to pass a conservation land deed that allows public access from the Chattahoochee River to Sweetwater Creek State Park.
“I believe the Yeti Trail Runners have led the way in Georgia with getting trail runners enthused and organized about building and helping maintain trails in the state of Georgia,” said Green. “As a trail runner, there is something very special about maintaining a section of trail that you run. When you return, you feel a connection that is indescribable.”
Interested in joining in on the Yeti Trail Runners? It’s free to join, and if you get a Yeti tattoo, you race for free in all Yeti races. Your best bet to stay tuned in to their action is through their Facebook group . Here you’ll find info on training runs, including their weekly Monday run that meets at 6:30 p.m. at Oz Pizza in Douglasville. Be warned—the wall is a shrine to the Yeti: with links to photos, articles, and clothing related to all things Yeti.