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Ft. Yargo to hold annual half-marathon

WINDER - Should huffing and puffing for 13 miles through the sweeping landscape of Ft. Yargo State Park tickle your fancy (on a Saturday, no less), then this off-kilter endurance test is up your alley.

On Feb. 28, the XTERRA Trail Race Series tromps into Winder for the third annual "Thrills In The Hills" half-marathon. Early registration is encouraged.

The race is unique, in that it follows a scenic off-road course through the park's winding and hilly mountain bike trails. Runners (or swift walkers) must negotiate root systems, steep inclines and single-wide trials in order to excel, organizers said.

The race is broken into 13 categories, ages 14 to 70-plus, and is open to all runners, promoter Tim Schroer said. His group Dirty Spokes will award cash and prizes to the overall top 3 male and female competitors in each category.

The first 300 finishers get a commemorative medal.

"It's a great venue for the runners," Schroer said. "We encourage anyone and everyone."

Registration fees are $35 until Feb. 21, then escalate thereafter. Runners can register online at www.active.com or download a mail-in entry form at www.dirtyspokes.com.

The race kicks off at 8:30 a.m. sharp, and official timing stops at 3:30 p.m.

SideBar: If You Go

· What: "Thrills In The Hills" half-marathon

· When: 8 a.m. Feb. 28

· Where: Ft. Yargo State Park, 210 S. Broad St., Winder

· Cost: Entry fees until Feb. 20 are $35; Feb. 21 to Feb. 26, $40; and on race day, $45.

· For more information:

E-mail race promoter Tim Schroer at tim@dirtyspokes.com