I first ran the Polar Bear 5K last year for my "birthday run." The Polar Bear 5K is hosted by Johnson Ferry Baptist Church in Marietta as a fund raiser for their youth mission trips. 2013 was the 25th running of the Polar Bear 5K which is great longevity for a race. There are 3 events in the race: the main event is the 5K and there are also a 2K and a fun run for the kids. The start times for each event were done very well (2K at 8:00, 5K at 8:30, and fun run at 9:15). The spacing of the events made it ideal for families to allow all members to participate since the races did not overlap. The race typically sells out with about 2,000 participants each year with a lot of families participating.
If you have never been to JFBC it is HUGE! There are multiple "wings" and a full gym with an indoor track.
When racing in January, it is always great to have pre-race activities in doors especially when it is a cool morning. I am quite thankful that JFBC has such large facilities that they can support runner registration inside! This seems to be their standard set-up, but regardless I was happy to be warm PLUS indoor restrooms! It is important to remember that even though you might be tempted to stay in the nice warm gym up to the last minutes before the race, you need to get outside and get your body adjusted to the cold before running. I think many people did not do this as a lot of people came out to the start line shortly before the start.
Not a well-marked/organized start
Overall race rating: B