The Peachtree – See it Like a Native

Saturday morning I ran five miles down Peachtree Street from Buckhead to Midtown for the third time since May 15. This time I saw more runners getting ready for July 4th, even though it felt hotter than a firecracker.

I know from my glory days running the Peachtree 31 years ago that it’s a good idea to run the actual AJC Peachtree Road Race course in the weeks leading up to it. I hadn’t done that in years, but I always knew it was a good idea for other people.

Saturday, after I cleared Cardiac Hill, I was surprised to see an Atlanta Track Club volunteer staffing a table on the sidewalk and handing out water. She said ATC volunteers will be handing out water along the race course during the remaining weekends in June. I thanked her, just in case she wasn’t a mirage.

If you give the course a try before July 4th you’ll notice a few things that might get lost in the bustle of the race.
For most of this decade the curbs of Peachtree Street developed a walled-in feel, as massive condo buildings rose on both sides of the road in Buckhead and Midtown.

In a sign of the times, a sizeable obstacle on the left sidewalk at the former Buckhead Village is a big green wall that screens a stalled construction project. The sidewalk there is blocked, forcing runners to either cross to the other side of Peachtree or run into oncoming traffic at a blind curve. Choose wisely.

Running on asphalt July 4th instead of the sidewalk may be easier on knees and ankles, but on the concrete you’ll see some archaeological glyphs from Peachtree past. The photo shows a fading two-mile marker in front of a church at Jesus Junction.

I was hoping to find out last Saturday how close I am to my goal of finishing the Peachtree in less than an hour. I ran five miles in 48 minutes, so I think I’m getting close. But I lost so much steam trying to maintain pace up Cardiac Hill that I reluctantly walked a couple of hundred yards after the water station to catch my breath.

So my strength and energy are close, but I’ve still got work to do on my pace. I’ve been trying to run steady up hill and accelerate a bit on the downhill. I’ve been successful shaving off time when I do that, but I struggle with it because I’m used to catching my breath a bit on the downhill.

Do you have a strategy for pacing yourself over a hilly course like the Peachtree? Steady as she goes, or like an 18-wheeler – slow going uphill and break away down the slope?

8 comments Add your comment

[...] This post was mentioned on Twitter by . said: [...]

Gen Neyland

June 15th, 2010
8:20 am

Pacing in the PRR may be dictated by the swell of humanity we start with and encounter along the way. I think the hardest lesson I learned during my first PRR is that the PRR isn’t a race for the overall massess but a celebration of the like-minded. I ran (weaved) probably 7.8 miles to finish under a hour. This years PRR may actually resemble a race for us that submitted times if those that start in front of us keep moving. When pigs fly..? I’ve never been so swift of foot as to be one who ran for the also prized coffee mug, but I do have ambition in this year’s PRR : Finish vertical, shoot for my best and enjoy every step along the way…


June 15th, 2010
8:26 am

If you ran 5 miles in 48 minutes, then you are in great shape to do 6.2 in 60 minutes! Of course, it depends mostly on how many people you get stuck behind. Did you submit a qualifying time?

John McCosh

June 15th, 2010
8:32 am

@Annette, I didn’t submit a qualifying time. Since my last official time was about 75 minutes, that wouldn’t have helped much. Guess I need to add dodging and weaving to my training.


June 15th, 2010
12:17 pm

Well, for any other 10K I would say your training would put you in a very good position to finish under 60 min. I trained for my last 10K (Charles Harris) with long runs at a 10:30 pace and finished the race in 57 min.

But the Peachtree is a different story. You’re right about adding dodging and weaving to your training!


June 18th, 2010
8:02 am

This is my first Peachtree and I have been training on a course near my house but I want to run the Peachtree course this weekend. Are there sidewalks from Buckhead to Midtown?

John McCosh

June 18th, 2010
8:06 am

There are sidewalks on both sides of Peachtree the whole way. The construction wall I wrote about has been moved off the sidewalk and there is now a clear path there. The main hold up is crossing the big intersections, especially at Piedmont.


June 25th, 2010
3:48 pm

John, just did a test run this morning – there is no sidewalk on the east side between East Paces Ferry and Buckhead Avenue (the northern half of the Streets of Buckhead).

I crossed over to the west side of Peachtree for the rest of the route and I regretted it for several reasons: not only is it the sunny side of the street and much warmer, but there are narrow sidewalks just before Peachtree Battle and again going up the hill at the 3-mile mark, and both times I had to wait for someone coming in the other direction before I could proceed.

When I got to Fresh Market, it was 89 with a heat index of 95. I had to give up, it was too miserable. Although a bottle of fresh orange juice sure did make me feel better…

Full disclosure: I’m not a runner. I’m a very fast walker, though. Last year my goal was NOT to be the middle-aged guy who passes out in front of Piedmont Hospital, and my time was just under 100 minutes. This year I’m on pace to do it in 85, which would make me extremely happy. Maybe the following year I’ll be able to reduce it another 15.