Georgia is known for its diverse landscape and cultures; from the mountains of north Georgia to the coastal beaches and farmland of southern Georgia, from the sprawling metropolis of Atlanta’s vibrant art, music, and literature to the quiet expanse of satellite cities dotted across the diverse landscape – there is something for every taste in Georgia. Sports are no different. Georgia is defining what it means to be a sports state, going beyond traditional team sports to become a go-to destination for what is frequently called “sports for life.” Let’s explore seven of the best around the state:
Buford Highway Bikes & Bites
Set on one of the busiest roads in Georgia, in one of the most economically, socially and culturally diverse cities in the world, Buford Highway Bikes & Bites takes place smack dab in the middle of Buford Highway in Doraville. If you’ve ever driven it, you can imagine how odd it will look with no cars but instead, a herd of bicyclists. Winner of the Atlanta Bicycle Coalition’s 2016 Local Bike Initiative Blinkie Award, this police escorted tour by bicycle of Atlanta’s most deliciously diverse street is not to be missed. Doraville is known for a diverse culture, where East meets West, and features some of the best Vietnamese dishes in the area, as well as BBQ (both American and Vietnamese), Mexican-style tacos and Atlanta’s best Dim Sum.
Rome Sports Clocktower Classic
Clocktower Classic Handcycle Stage Race, the only race of its kind in the continental United States, is comprised of 5 stages over the course of four days. This race has been endorsed by the US Handcycling Federation and US Paralympics Cycling. Participants from around the world travel to Rome to participate in the race which features challenging hill climbs, rolling terrain plus flat and fast courses. US Paralympics has utilized the race as a training event for the national team. The Clocktower Classic brand has recently expanded into wheelchair tennis, with the Clocktower Classic Wheelchair Tennis Championship. The tournament has been named Best Wheelchair Tennis Tournament the last two years running by USTA Georgia. Both events are open to all abilities and ages. Both events donate a portion of their proceeds to purchase adaptive sports equipment for local youth programs.
Augusta Disc Golf Association
Augusta, Ga., has one of the most comprehensive community disc golf organizations in the southeast. The Augusta Disc Golf Association consists of six courses in the Augusta area and features weekly play days, monthly tournaments and leagues for all ages and abilities. The favorable year-round weather has turned this sport into a consistent draw for local and visiting patrons alike. The disc golf season culminates in the Augusta Disc Golf Classic, played at Lake Olmstead Park and Pendelton King Park on September 24 & 25, 2016.
Columbus Soldier Marathon
From start to finish, this is truly a community event. Organized by local event planners, the race utilizes the local terrain, boosts the local economy and provides benefits to local veterans. There is a race for everyone. The Marathon is the main event and serves as a qualifier for the Boston Marathon. If the Full Marathon is not for you, there is a half marathon, full relay marathon, Soldier 5K, a Kids Soldier Marathon, and a Virtual Marathon. During the first six years, the Soldier Marathon Races donated $150,000 to military organizations in Columbus and Fort Benning, including the National Infantry Museum, House of Heroes, Fort Benning MWR (Morale, Welfare and Recreation), Team Red, White & Blue and Honor Flight. One hundred percent of all sponsor dollars given to the Soldier Marathon is distributed to military organizations.
Columbia County Wildwood Games
After learning that they had secured the USA Cycling Marathon Mountain Biking National Championships, the Columbia County Convention and Visitors Bureau decided to build the Wildwood Games around the event. The main event of the Wildwood Games, the Marathon Mountain Biking National Championship, will cover the grueling terrain of Georgia Fall Line (where the land shifts from slopes of the Piedmont to the flatland associated with South Georgia). This includes racing over gravel, single-track, woods roads, dirt roads, creek crossings and a long, dirt road descent into Below Dam and then a tough climb back up US-221 before finishing on a gravel road and double-track sprint to the finish line. The Wildwood Games also include BMX Races, trail running and a disc golf tournament.
Publix Savannah Women’s Half Marathon & 5k
Created by the Savannah Sports Council and entering its third year, the Publix Savannah Women’s Half Marathon & 5k welcomed 2,400 runners in 2016 with 65% of participants from outside the local area. This race route encapsulates Savannah’s history and charm in 13.1 miles in and around some of the area’s most scenic attractions. The course begins alongside each of Savannah’s largest recreational parks, Forsyth Park and Daffin Park, and navigates through 12 of the scenic squares in the city’s Historical District. With the finish line at the iconic Forsyth Park Fountain, this run provides a memorable experience unique to Georgia.
Entering its 15th year of competition, IronKids Alpharetta is a USA Triathlon sanctioned event and will be held at Wills Park in Alpharetta, Georgia. This annual event is one of the largest youth triathlon in the US with more than 1,300 athletes competing in a swim, bike and run competition. The mission of IronKids is to inspire and motive youth through sport and lead to active, positive and healthy lifestyles. The race includes three divisions: Junior for ages 6 to 8, Intermediate for ages 9 to 11 and Senior for ages 12 to 15.