Explore the trails of the "Enchanted Lands" with the DoubleTop 100

26 Jan 2012 06:19
Jean-Loup Fenaux
Focus on a race Interview

Hello, on March 3rd 2012, you’ll be organizing the DoubleTop 100 100M. Can you tell us where it is located?

The DoubleTop 100 is two main trail races, 100 miles and 100 km. The race starts and finishes at the Ft Mountain State Park near Chatsworth, GA. It uses the scenic north end of the Pinhoti Trail and a very nice 20-mile trail section of the Benton Mackaye Trail.

This will be the first edition of the race. Why did you create it?

There was a bubble of energy and circumstances that helped this race come about. The energy comes from a strong and growing community of endurance athletes in the Southeast.

Many, like myself, have enjoyed traveling to events in other regions, but we have also noticed that some of the training areas in our backyard (North Georgia) would make great race locations. Putting on a long race requires a lot of real estate (without looping, of course) with good quality trails.

The creation and improvement of the Pinhoti Trail that runs from the middle of Alabama to north Georgia has been a unique blessing to ultra races (Pinhoti 100, Georgia Jewel, Mt Cheaha 50k, and now DoubleTop 100). Thus filling a hole in the training calendar for long trail races in the Georgia area with a beautiful course on the north end of the Pinhoti (and with the help of the Benton Mackaye Trail) was an easy decision.

Credit : DoubleTop 100
What kind of route have you set up for the runners? How would you describe it?

The route is out and back for both the 100M and 100k. Both routes use parts of the trail system within the Ft Mountain State Park to connect outside the State Park and also to adjust for the round-trip mileage. A connector trail links the Ft Mountain State Park trail system to the Pinhoti Trail.

The Pinhoti Trail tees into the Benton Mackaye Trail about 30 miles north of Ft Mountain State Park. The 100M course will turn right onto the Benton Mackaye Trail and continue out to the Bushy Head Gap area where the route will turn around. There is some elevation change along the route but overall the trails are non-technical so the course is ideal for strong fast runners.

There is some narrower single track, but most of the course has lots of room to pass and go at your own pace. The first 1.5 miles of the course follows along the Park road to give runners some time and distance to sort themselves out. The course is meant to be fully runnable with aid stations every 5-6 miles.

Credit : DoubleTop 100
How many runners do you expect on Saturday morning? What type of runners do you plan to attract?

The course is fairly easy to navigate so it really caters to runners at all skill levels. The 100M course has a cut off of 34 hours and the 100k race has a cutoff of 20 hours.

At this point we do not have a real cap on the number of runners because the course will support a large number of runners. Given that it is a fast and relatively non-technical course, I see the race as both a good first time event for runners stepping up to longer distances and for strong runners needing a winter tune up for the spring race season.

There has been a lot interest in the race. I would like to say that the interest is due to my awesome event organization skills…but actually the course sells itself. The Cohutta Mountains are a very picturesque part of Georgia and these trails are a good way to explore the area.

Credit : DoubleTop 100
Do you organize other races during the Week-End? If so, on what distances?

The two main events of DoubleTop100 are the 100M and 100k events. We want to make the course spectator and family friendly so we are offering two other low key events (a hill climbing event and a kids’ fun run) to help pass the time; and also bring out runners that may not normally run the longer distances but may come for a day trip.

The hill-climbing event (Gahuti Ring-of-Power Challenge) is meant as a fun climb-til-drop (4 hrs) event up and down the Power Line Hill near the start of the ultra races. Someone asked me if there were obstacles on this course (there are not) but given the popularity of the tough mudder type races it does appear that obstacles would be a happy addition…perhaps next year.

At that time of the year, what kind of weather can we expect?

The extended forecast for Georgia this March is for drier weather. This time of year in Georgia can have large temperature swings (mid 20s to the mid 70s – -6 to 20°C) so runners need to be prepared for both extremes. It is important to note that the course drains well.

Credit : DoubleTop 100
Have you planned festivities around the race?

The planned activities in addition to the races involve normal post race awards and snacks. Some evening activities are planned on Saturday night. A warm fire will be maintained throughout the night.

The race finished, what advice would you give a runner who has never been to Ft Mountain State Park before? A good restaurant, a fancy sightseeing?

There are good restaurants in nearby Chatsworth and Ellijay (and lodging). The Cohutta Wilderness is adjacent to the course and has beautiful vistas and trails. The Pinhoti Trail and Ft Mountain trail system are multi-use trails so there are opportunities mountain biking through much of the area. For out-of-towners looking for a get away, renting a local cabin for a longer stay would be a good option.

In a single sentence, what would you tell the readers of ahotu Marathons to make them register for the DoubleTop 100 100M?

The Cherokee Indians referred to North Georgia and especially the Cohutta Mountains area as the “Enchanted Lands”. Therefore this race is the “Race in the Enchanted Lands”.


Interview with Perry Sebastian, Race director. Perry is a Georgia based ultra-running addict, who has ventured into the more time consuming activity of hosting ultra distance races.