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Annual Ft. Yargo race expands with full marathon

File Photo. The annual "Thrills in the Hills" run at Ft. Yargo State Park has been expanded to include a marathon this year.

File Photo. The annual "Thrills in the Hills" run at Ft. Yargo State Park has been expanded to include a marathon this year.

WINDER -- A popular foot race through the wooded hills of Ft. Yargo State Park is expanding this year to meet runner demand.

On Feb. 27, the XTERRA Trail Race Series tromps into Winder for the fourth annual "Thrills In The Hills" half-marathon. Only this time it's bringing a longer option with it.

"With the popularity of the event, we added a full marathon," said promoter Tim Schroer.

Both races are unique, in that they follow 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 shorter version is one loop around the trail, the longer two.

Early registration is encouraged.

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

All finishers get a commemorative medal.

Registration fees vary according to deadline and race length. 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.