First year running Peachtree! Here’s how it all went for me.
First, I am very lucky to have good friends in Atlanta who let me crash their experience and help me out. Lord, navigating the MARTA or finding a hotel or the like would be a massive dent in the experience for me otherwise. SO … a big thanks to Mark and Martha and all those associated with Mark and Martha that make the difference in these races for me.
Peachtree is a long honored tradition in Atlanta, the prize being a tshirt at the end. The only way to get this shirt is to run the race. And the only way to get in the race is by lottery. As it happened, the lottery was open while I was down there for the half marathon in March and on a whim, I signed up. They take 60,000 entries and from what I understand, they get about 62,000 entries. So, why have a lottery, I wondered? The lottery apparently started when the race would fill up in one day, before they expanded it to 60,000, and they have some checks in place so that those that have run it before have an easier time getting in.
I found the communication about the race to be fantastic, very easy. Plenty of emails and the number showed up about a week or two before the race. Having picked up my number in the Bridge run and that being a fiasco, and picking it up for the half in March and that going OK, I went for easy this time. I’d been to the expos before and they are fun … but I wasn’t really in the market for anything running-related, so I skipped it this year. (Sorry, I can’t review it! If it was like the other expos related to the Atlanta Track Club, it was terrific.)
The stuff IN the folder that came in the mail as well as the bag afterwards … eh. The information was extremely clear, and I read that about five times. The magazine was OK. The rest of the stuff? Sorry vendors, mostly junk. Here’s what I got:
- A coupon for Blue Bell Ice Cream (OK, not bad, don’t eat a lot of dairy but that’s good)
- TWO coupons for a free waffle at Waffle House that made me giggle. (I’d consider using this but I don’t think they will honor this outside Atlanta.)
- Gayle’s great tips to a great race, also from Waffle House, with an offer for free hashbrowns.
- Two $10 off coupons at Sports Authority (good, again probably won’t use as there’s not one nearby)
- Two flyers from UPS saying I’m awesome (thanks, and what shall I do with this? How were you planning on tracking the effectiveness of these flyers?)
- An offer for an energy efficient heat pump from Georgia Power and one to replace my gas heater for an electric one. (Again, from SC so thinking this won’t work for me.)
- Georgia Natural Gas countered with two flyers for $50 in bill credits if I signed up. (Not sure what I was signing up for, but then again, didn’t apply to me.)
- WSB AM/FM radio, reminding me that I don’t need to worry about traffic reports where I live.
- 11 Alive TV telling me to watch race coverage (this came early, but most of us were AT the race. Maybe we were supposed to record?)
- Sometime from the Atlanta Journal Constitution telling me they were more vital today than ever.
- Two flyers telling me to watch for a heart attack from Emory Healthcare.
- A cool thing from the Path Foundation that builds trails around Georgia for bikes and the like.
- Two flyers for the Atlanta Marathon in October and the Half on Thanksgiving, which I’ve run and it was a great race and I may do it again.
- Three flyers reminding me of the Expo.
- Another flyer from the Atlanta Track Club, telling me where I could find results (which were up THAT AFTERNOON WOW.)
That was a LOT of paper and most of it didn’t really mean anything to me. (Sorry sponsors. I greatly appreciate the sponsorship but … )
Since I had my number in hand and Martha picked hers up early in the day, this meant there was no huge rush for me to get down there. I aimed for about 5 and got there about … 5:05. Perfect. We meandered to the Dekalb Farmers Market and ate dinner there. Now the ambiance here is a total zero. I will give them credit for real plates and silverware, but you are sitting at cheap tables, set off from the rest of the market with latticework you see on patios. It’s kind of loud and without charm but the food is fabulous, so it’s worth it. You pay by the pound. I believe together, our meals ran to about $12. I had carrot cake, roasted squash, a nice salad with beets on it, some Persian rice and some lentils. All delicious! The bonus is after this is done, you can shop! I highly recommend this: the spices are so incredibly cheap and the tea is a bargain and the selection of olive oils is amazing. They also have a great meat and fish market and amazing amounts of fresh fruit and vegetables. Bonus if you like to buy your rice 20 pounds at a time.
A banana, some water and we were off to the races, waking at 5. We stopped at a friend’s house and parked close to midtown in a “special spot” this friend had. That was the easy part: at 6 am on a holiday, no one but runners were on the road. Proof of that was when we got on the train: all cars were full of runners.
Now we took MARTA, which was highly encouraged, and when we exited, on our way to the race, they handed us these little pocket holders you are supposed to wear around your neck. Not exactly running friendly, and it seemed these were mostly used to hold some of your stuff, then discarded after relieving yourself before the race. Lots of these were around the Port-a-Potties.
Now Peachtree is legendary for being hot. I’d practiced by running in some extremely hot weather and my friends were all telling me that it wasn’t hot enough unless there were 59,999 other people around me. And we had a massive heat wave the week before, going from highs in the low 90s to highs of 105. We got extremely fortunate with thunderstorms the night before, which meant by the time we were finished, it was around 80-85. I was informed this was not a hot Peachtree. I’ll take it!
My friend dropped me off at corral F, since she was walking it this year with a friend and we said our goodbyes. The seeded runners began at 7:30 and each corral was about 2-5 minutes behind that, going all the way to corral X (as far as I know.) They were extremely prompt with this, with our corral taking off at exactly 7:55. The other fabulous thing about this was my corral did not feel too terribly crowded. I’m guessing each corral had about 300-400 runners. We started at Lenox Square, underneath an enormous American flag, hanging off a crane. Lenox was where I used to like to hang out in Atlanta before I got over being enamored with big name brand stores and malls and the like, so it was a little surreal to stand outside the mall.
The race is full of bands and water and even beer and pizza. There was at least one band every mile and in fact, I believe early on, there were even two almost competing with each other. There’s lots of water to drink and to run through, more than you might really need. (Again, not as hot as usual, might have felt different had it had been 10 degrees hotter.) A friend of mine had a piece of pizza at the Mellow Mushroom as well as a beer later on. More than a race, the Peachtree seems to be a celebration of just moving.
The first half of the race is mostly downhill. I worried about the last half of the race, being more uphill, even one point earning the name “cardiac hill.” I did not really run up any hills I found to be heart-attack-worthy, and have certainly run up far more difficult hills even in Atlanta races. Still, this is a fun 6 mile run and extremely well organized. After 43 years, they have this one down to an art.
I will say that the Bridge run had a ton more fun party atmosphere at the end of it. Mounds and mounds of food everywhere, and I didn’t see that here. I did get a water and a shirt, as well as an ice cold wet towel, but not much more. This was fine; I had planned to go to a party at my friend Mark’s house so I didn’t need a lot of that. Perhaps when people are done, they don’t spend a lot more time outside. Perhaps they have planned events immediately following the race that involves being inside. Perhaps the party here IS the race.
Would I run this race again? YES. This is a great event and I love 10Ks anyway. There just aren’t enough of them!