Sunday, July 7, 2013

Peachtree Road Race Recap

Peachtree Road Race 10k, July 4th every year
Field: ~60,000, By lottery in early/mid March
Spectators: 150,000+
Start: Wave start by race times given at registration.
Course: A rolling (3800ft elevation change) 6.2 miles down Peachtree Street through the heart of the city, finishing in Piedmont Park.
Schwag: The coveted cotton t-shirt seen on participants all over the city for the rest of the day. Also, the post-race scene is like a second expo there is so much free stuff.

Sorry for the delay in getting this post up, but I wanted to do the race justice and give you a real glimpse at what it is like. It's hard to capture what the Peachtree means to Atlanta, but I'll give it my best shot.
The Start. Credit: The Jayhawk
Despite bleak pre-race weather reports, the monsoon style rain didn't arrive until after the race allowing for another great year.  PTRR is a unique event, a 10k unlike any other for many reasons: it is the largest in the country in terms of entrants, it shuts down a major US city for most of a day, and there is a wide range of abilities from the elite of the elite to those who this will be their only race of the year.  The PTRR has a level of stature in the city (similar to NYC marathon but more accessible due to the shorter distance) with everyone talking about who's doing the race, people clamoring to get a bib, and guessing what the shirt will look like. The shirts are worn like a badge of honor around the city and many people make it an annual tradition. There are people who have never run a race before that train for a year just to complete the hilly 6.2 trek through heat and humidity, all so they can wear that cotton t-shirt with pride.
She runs with Scissors; The Elites mingle at the finish.
This is not to shortchange the course.  With over 1900ft of climbing and another 1900+ ft of descending, it's not an easy race and by no means what I would pick for a first timers 10k, but that speaks volumes about the mystique of the Peachtree in Atlanta: Everyone, runner or not, wants to complete the challenge. The course gives you 2+ miles of downhill to start, but takes it all back with a series of long hills for the following 3 miles.
A sea of humanity at the finish. 
Being one of the oldest races in the city (44 years), it has captured a place in the heart of the city.  3400+ volunteers show up bright and early on a holiday to make sure it is a success.  150k fans line the course with faces painted and festive attire, cheering, handing out water, popsicles, beer, etc. Local T.V. stations carry live coverage of the race starting starting over an hour before the first wave is sent off, and then does a prime time recap that very night with the inspirational stories of those running it.
Though it was a road race, the finish area in the park resembled Woodstock. 
I've actually never raced PTRR. I feel like I would miss too much if I was focused on speeding through the course.  There is so much to see and be inspired by.  Every year it is the one race that the Jayhawk and I run together.  We soak in the crowds enjoying everything they have to offer as well as the excitement of our fellow runners.  There are many moments of inspiration to be had on the course from the oldest participant (92 years young), to the rehab patients from the Shepard Spine Center that line the side of one of the major hills in their wheelchairs cheering loudly and willing you not to stop.
Wearing it with pride.
In my mind, the Peachtree is a snapshot of what is great about running. Everyone, young and old, runner and non-runner, fans, volunteers, works together to create one day unlike any other in the city.  It is a true celebration and an unique experience that makes me proud to call myself a runner and live in Atlanta.

Is there a race that is emblematic of your city?


6 comments:

  1. You really sell the race! I hope to run it one day. It's one of the few reasons I'd go back to ATL. haha. Glad the rain held off. More pictures of flare!!!

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    1. Thanks Monica! There is a picture of my full outfit here:
      http://running-on-eb.blogspot.com/2013/07/happy-4th-of-july.html

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  2. Love this year's shirt! I ran the Peachtree in 2011 and 2012, back when I was living in South Carolina, but couldn't make it down to the ATL this year. I'm glad the rain held out for the race and that you were able to enjoy the scenery! It's too bad Piedmont Park was so swampy; it's a fun place to hang out. Sounds like you had a great race!

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  3. By the looks of your shoes, it was muddy. Sounds like a fun time!

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  4. Thanks for checking out the blog! Congrats on your 1st PTRR too glad to hear you had a good time as well. Always good meeting fellow runners in Atlanta.

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  5. You sure it wasn't a mud run this year? Regardless, it sounds like a very, fun race!

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