Participating in large races is exciting but can also be intimidating. After taking on the world’s largest 10K race eight times, this TravelingMom compiled a list of tips to help participants run and enjoy the Fourth of July’s legendary AJC Peachtree Road Race.
AJC Peachtree Road Race
The AJC Peachtree Road Race is a longstanding Fourth of July tradition in Atlanta – not only for runners but for spectators, too. With more than 60,000 participants, it’s the largest 10K in the world.
Everyone from competitive athletes to once-a-year runners lace up their shoes to take the epic path down Peachtree Street. It’s one of my favorite races. I’ve run it nine times. The positive patriotic energy that fills the city is infectious. A couple years ago I posted 5 race day tips and thought it would be helpful to add another 5.
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First 5 Tips for the AJC Peachtree Road Race
Here’s a quick recap of my first five tips. (You can get all of the detail in my original post – AJC Peachtree Road Race: 5 Race Day Tips)
1. Don’t Drive to the Race
Take MARTA. It really is smarter. Between parking, road closures and the massive number of runners and spectators, it makes sense to take public transportation. If you can’t do that, at least carpool to the race.
2. Plan Potty Breaks
Yes, with so many people using public porta potties you need to be strategic about when you pee. Take advantage of when you see short lines and don’t wait until the last minute go.
3. Expect to Wait
Like any race, there’s always some aspect of hurry up and wait. Expect it at the start but take comfort in the fact that the Peachtree Road Race has been running for decades. All those years of experience helps them put on a well produced, timely event.
4. Have a Specific Meeting Place to Meet Family and Friends
Don’t make the mistake of thinking you will spot your husband, kids, or friends out of 60,000+ people. Plan ahead and make sure your cell phone is charged.
5. Allow Extra Time to Leave
You’ll need patience for after the race, too. Take into consideration traffic, getting back on the MARTA and all the other people trying to get home, too.
The Next 5 Race Day Tips
6. Stay Hydrated
They don’t call Atlanta “HOTLANTA” for nothing. We’ve already had many days with temps reaching the high 90’s; when the humidity joins the party it’s no fun. Staying hydrated is crucial to surviving the heat. Don’t wait until race day. Start before, and take advantage of all the water/drink stations available. You’ll find them at each mile throughout the course along with five water spray stations to help keep you cool.
7. Use Sunscreen
Don’t be fooled because the race start is early in the morning, it will still be hot – especially if the sun peeks through the clouds and shines over much of the course. It’s not a shady route so protect yourself. Sunscreen, visors, lightweight athletic hats and sunglasses are highly recommended.
8. Step Aside for Selfies
Social media is in full effect when it comes to races these days. Selfies at the start, the finish line and during the fun along the way are common – especially in a fun race like this. Practice good race etiquette and move out of the way. Similar to how walkers should move to the right of the course, do the same for any selfies or social media breaks. Be aware and respectful of people running around you so no one gets hurt. There’s lots of interesting people, costumes, runners and spectators that you’ll probably find picture-worthy at this race. Have fun, just be aware. Also, if you snap any good ones make sure to share them using the race’s official hashtag, #AJCPRR.
9. Respect the Waves
Every year I see people try to start higher than their assigned wave and every year I don’t see anyone make it. While I’m sure there are those few who have beat the system, this race is really tight on security and good at keeping things orderly. You would think with 60,000 runners you could just slip through the cracks. Nope. They check. They look at your bib numbers and will send you back to where you belong.
If you want to run with people who are assigned different waves you are allowed to drop back to join the person with the later wave. For example, this year my sister is in wave “L” and I am in wave “M” so she’ll have to come join me.
The race starts with the wheelchair athletes at 6:43 a.m. The elite runners take off at 7:30 a.m. along with the “A” wave. All the waves have estimated start times with the last one, “Y,” taking off at 9:05 a.m. The race requests that runners are in their wave coral at least one hour prior to their wave start time which is great for later waves to help elevate some of that hurry-up-and-wait time.
10. Enjoy the Crowd
It’s a big race. Add in the 3,500 volunteers on top of the thousands of spectators cheering on the 60,000 runners and you’ve got an enormous crowd. Understandably it can be intimidating but it’s historically been a positive, well-controlled, enthusiastic crowd. Enjoy the energy and the support of the people – it’s one of the highlights of this special race.