I live in Atlanta and the first race I ever signed up for was the Silver Comet half marathon, which at the time I figured was the farthest I would ever run! But having since embraced the ultra distances, and having had all my spring races canceled this year, I looked for an FKT to try instead, and figured a return to where it all started for me would be perfect. Unfortunately the Silver Comet Trail was closed throughout April (due to covid-19), and by the time it reopened and I had scouted out key sections it was now June, when Georgia has ... less than ideal running weather. But I went for it anyway, on a day that I think was actually the hottest so far of 2020, peaking near 90 degrees and humid.
My friend Meridith Ussery drove me out to the Esom Hill trailhead where we parked and jogged the ~0.3 miles to the AL state line. There I started my Garmin tracking, with Fitbit also as a backup. The trail is open only in daylight hours so we started right around sunrise, 6:20 AM EDT. It was already 70 degrees even then. Meridith ran the first 15.7 miles with me to the Grady Road trailhead near Cedartown, where we met my wife who was my super-crew for the day. There I refilled my pack (Nathan VaporKrar) with snacks and fluids -- 1.5L Tailwind and two soft flasks full of water.
I ran the next ~50k alone, which got pretty tough once the temps climbed into the 80s with the sun still out. I had planned to see my wife twice in this span (at the Coot’s Lake and Hiram trailheads), but added a third stop (Tara Drummond trailhead) because I ran out of water sooner than anticipated. Stuffing my hat and a buff full of ice at each of these stops was critical for staying cool enough to keep running.
At the Hiram trailhead (14.7 miles to go) I picked up two more pacers, Alex Sessa and Selena Perrin, who ran with me to the end. I took more walking breaks as the day wore on, but having pacers again definitely boosted morale, and some clouds rolled in during the final few hours which provided some relief. I finished the day with a lot of toe blisters but glad that I did this! Definitely the flattest ~100k or longer route that I have run, which provides its own form of challenge: it’s 100% runnable, but you can’t actually run 100% of the time (or at least I couldn’t!) so prudent pacing is key. The relatively frequent mile markers along the trail are helpful, and in the end my Garmin tracking matched the advertised total (61.5 miles) exactly.