I’ve been meaning to write on the Peachtree Road Race for several years now and finally I just sat down and did it.
We call it ‘doing the double’ because each year we stay near the finish line, wake up early, run to the start, get in our corral, then run back to the Finish. PRR is a ‘point to point and if you stay near the Finish area MARTA is jammed with participants trying to get to the start. Even worse, since everyone parks at the mall near the start or stays there MARTA is still jammed, maybe more so post race with thousands of participants who just ran 6.2 miles in July and, well, like Forrest Gump, we just decided to go for a run. We’ve done this 15 out of the last 17 years. Over the years either Micki or myself missed a run or 2 due to injuries or sickness, but one of the two of us has kept the streak alive every year we’ve participated
We count the number of times people say to us, “You’re going the wrong way, hahaha” as if we hadn’t heard that one before (yeah, like 2 blocks before!). The record number of times we’ve heard it in one run out’ to the start is 7 and we almost always get 2 or 3. The Atlanta Track Club volunteers are already set up so water going out is never a problem – I mean these guys are organized!
The sun starts peeking over the horizon as we cross the railway trestle bridge and over the years we’ve seen some spectacular sunrises. Beyond that the run to the start is seldom eventful – well there was the one year we ran by the restaurant Justine’s and there was a car stuck in the front door, but that happened before we got there….not sure how, though.
We always look forward to the priest at St. Philips Episcopal and their ‘holy water’ station. He stands there the whole race alongside buckets of water and Blesses the runners as they pass. There’s always the trombone player (a bit of a misnomer) who also serenaded the runners in the old Atlanta half with the only 2 notes he knew. “Blat” and “blaaat” – reminds me of Ferris Beuller and his (awful) clarinet playing, “and I never had a lesson!” Yet Mr Trombone Man is out there every yearand even in the steady downpour we endured this year. I miss the twin sisters – two elderly ladies always decked out in Red, White, and Blue sitting in front of Peachtree United Methodist Church cheering. Regretfully one sister passed maybe 3 or 4 years ago and her sister made it to one last Peachtree; sadly time does march on. You hear bands, radio DJ’s, hats and t-shirts are tossed into the throngs of runners almost moving as one. There’s a doughnut station (Publix) and we passed 3 beer stations this year – though that varies annually, I think due to sobriety and the early hour spectators have to get there.
Then there’s the wild, weird, and wacky participants. I’ve seen Uncle Sam, Nacho Libre (I need to UN-see that), some beer hall Frauleins complete with a portable speaker playing polka music, the. whole. way. Plus scores of Speed O’s, tutu’s military, flag carrying full dressed firemen, assorted flag wavers, too many people wearing tights (yes! On July 4th, in the South!) and so much more.
There are 60,000 runners spread out over I don’t know how many corrals and to this day the race continues to grow. In the original 1970 PRR there were 110 runners and within 5 years it had grown to >1,000.
This year Scott Overall of the United Kingdom passed Ben Payne of the USA literally at the finish line in a real, live photo finish. Payne began to celebrate his victory with about 10 yards left to go and Overall just never gave up. As I used to tell my Little Leaguers, “Run OVER first base, not TO it.” Run THROUGH the Finish Line, not TO it and the more important lesson:
Never, ever, ever give up.
Reminder! 52 days and counting to Couch to 10K’s 15th Anniversary Edition! It’s a great way to get started learning to run ‘distance’ and have fun with the most successful training program in the South. You’ll train to run a 10K (or 5K) at YOUR pace, the RIGHT way and be on your way to making 2015 a milestone year for you and laying groundwork to make 2016 your best year ever!