Since the Fourth of July in 1970, the AJC Peachtree Road Race has grown in prominence, becoming the largest 10K race in the world. Since about 2011, approximately 60,000 runners, walkers and joggers each year have opted to rise early prior to the barbecues and parties planned for the day to trot down the 6.2-mile course through Buckhead and Midtown.
The Atlanta Track Club has nurtured the racing event from the original 110 runners 50 years ago to tens of thousands today, and that doesn’t happen without the overwhelming city support, as Jay Holder, the club’s marketing director, told The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. Because of that partnership between the city and the race, this 50th running celebration will be a two-fold celebration, Holder said.
“It’s really going to be an opportunity to celebrate the 50th running for the event. It’s not just important for the race; it’s historic for Atlanta.”
In honor of the long history, the Atlanta Track Club wants to pinpoint some important elements to this year’s race that will help participants and spectators enjoy the 50-year celebration.
Here is a collection of do’s and don’ts you’ll want to know about before the AJC Peachtree Road Race, plus new information that could be helpful for all participants.
Do’s and don’ts for spectators
Do be loud and proud on the sidelines. Spectators are the cheerleaders of this 10K race, so their role on July 4th is a major part of the event. Those who will watch the race should bring noisemakers and shout for the runners and walkers who will endure the heat and uphill battle to finish the race. "It's not just about the 60,000 runners," Holder said. "It's the 100,000 spectators. The more boisterous and loud they can be, the more motivated our participants will be."
Do find your ideal cheering spot. Instead of crowding the area at the starting line of the race, spectators are invited to set up their cheering stations about a mile into the race. Some of the best spots to watch the race are the Woodruff Arts Center and Colony Square, Peachtree and 10th streets, and several MARTA stations.
Do take MARTA. Runners and walkers are strongly encouraged to take MARTA. Runners can use the Lenox station for the start of the race and the Midtown or Art Center station for the finish. There is no parking available at the start or finish.
For the first time, runners and walkers can also take advantage of shuttle buses that will transport participants to the Lindbergh station.
“We hope this will help people to not have to walk so far with these shuttles being available on the back end,” Holder said.
Do hydrate, enjoy, repeat. Participants should utilize each of the water stops, since it's expected to be hot on July 4. (Go to AJC.com/weather for the latest forecast.)
> RELATED: Weather for the race will be hot and humid. What runners need to know
Don't touch the runners. Though making a joyful noise is welcomed, attempting to make contact with the participants, like giving high fives or handing out items, is not encouraged. This sort of interaction can slow down the event, Holder said.
Do not make the starting line your spectator station. Over the years, many spectators have attempted to camp out at the starting line of the race. That is a definite mistake since there's no place to stand at Lenox Mall.
Don't arrive at the race's start time. Get there early—really early. One of the rookie mistakes some new AJC Peachtree Road Race make is showing up right as the race begins, Holder said. He suggests runners and walkers arrive at Lenox Square around 6 a.m., so they can watch the national anthem performance, invocation and other pre-race events. Early arrival also ensures participants don't miss their place in line.
Do not misjudge your pace. For the new or the seasoned runner, Holder suggests holding off on overdoing it with speed on the front end of the race. As the course begins on Lenox Square and travels down Peachtree to 10th Street in Midtown, the terrain is downhill. However, the last three miles are all uphill. The finish is located on 10th Street just outside of Piedmont Park.
“Don’t push your body too far,” he suggested. “Peachtree isn’t always about setting your personal best. It’s the Fourth of July. It’s about having the best time.”
Money, money, money, money. For the 50-year celebration, the Atlanta Track Club has upped the ante for the winning bonus in each category: wheelchair, elite women and elite men.
In addition to the regular prizes, the winners in those categories can win up to $50,000 for winning the race and beating the event record. It’s the most “sizeable bonus” that participants have been offered, Holder said. In years past, the bonus was $10,000.
It’s especially notable for the wheelchair race.
“We have the best wheelchair racers in the world, so it’s going to be an exciting race and a never-before reward for the winner,” Holder said.
Music by decade from the 1970s. Atlanta Track Club is making sure runners, walkers and joggers feel the nostalgia of the last 50 years at every mile. So, the team has given each mile of the race a theme for each decade of the race: 1970s, 1980s, 1990s, 2000s and so on. At each mile, there will be a band or deejay playing music from that decade.
What would the 50th Running of the AJC Peachtree Road Race be without a little music?! Celebrate the music of the last...Posted by Atlanta Track Club on Wednesday, June 26, 2019
Honoring the trailblazers.
As the story goes, the AJC Peachtree Road Race started with a group of 110 eager runners. At the time, the race was called the Carling Peachtree Race. For the 50th running, the surviving runners from that group of 110 have been invited to attend.
“We’re expecting a couple dozens of those surviving members,” Holder said. “They’ll be out there in special shirts, and it’ll be nice to represent the history with those first ones to run it.”
If you go.
The 50th AJC Peachtree Road Race will take place at 7 a.m. July 4 at Piedmont Park. Visit ajc.com/peachtree for additional details.
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Credit: Christina Matacotta