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Our 5th consecutive

Peachtree Road Race - 2005, 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009

The 40th Peachtree Road Race 2009

It is March 15, 2009, the time is 7:00 AM in Atlanta. I have a hot cup of coffee, the PC is fired up and I am ready to do a first, the on-line registration for the July 4th Peachtree Road Race. This is the 40th year for the Peachtree and the first time the organizers will automate the registration process, a welcomed change.

In the past, it was getting the Sunday newspaper, filling out the form, writing a check, putting it in an envelope (note, one per registration per envelope) and then off to the post office with hopes that it gets to where it is going to secure a “good low number”. I can just imaging the work behind the scenes. Organizers getting big bags of mail, opening the applications, getting the written data into a useable computer format, making deposit transactions for the 55,000 applications. Further action must have had to take place including those of returned checks, unreadable non-complete data, missing documents, etc.

This year it is different with on-line registration. I get through the sponsors website to the site that actually hosts the entry form. First name, last name, address, credit card info, etc. all entered into the cells of the form. Then ENTER. The computer b-a-r-f-s. Cryptic data with the forms error messages flow back to the screen. What the heck!

I thought that perhaps I entered something wrong. I get back in queue and start the form again, this time slowly entering the data cell by cell, ENTER and b-a-r-f again. I determine that it is not me but something technical. There must some news on the sponsor website addressing the technical issues. It was early Sunday morning and I guess I really was not expecting someone to post a website updates of problems. No news.

Over the next two hours I tried several more times and then finally at 9:00 AM the application is accepted and the transaction receipt displays for printing.

Even though it took a couple of hours to work through the technical issues, it was less time that the trips to the store for the newspaper and then to the post office. Multiply this out by the 40,000 registrations that were placed by 2:00 PM when the on-line portion was closed, what a streamlined savings. The Peachtree committee only needs to handle 15,000 paper applications this year.

June 11, 2009, the Peachtree package is in my mail box. The numbers are low, Group #3. I should be crossing the finish line more than an hour later when Group #9 is crossing the start line. I will be home in time to help James prepare brunch for our Old Ivy gathering.


July 4th 2009 - Peachtree Road Race - Old Ivy Road
Wes, Kathy, Chris, Brian, Clay, Kim, Mark


The 39th Peachtree Road Race 2008


The 4th of July is my favorite holiday!  No presents to buy, no tree to put up, no big meal with football, just good old summertime activities capped of with fireworks.

We are getting ready for the 39th annual July 4th tradition in Atlanta, the Peachtree Road Race.  This will be our 4th annual gathering for the road race. The southeast is suffering from little rain and a drought in 2007.  Earlier this year the City of Atlanta dictated that the organizers of the Peachtree change the road course with a different finish line.  Piedmont Park, the traditional finish point has suffered from the drought over the past year and has a difficult time to recover.  The experts at the city believes the 55,000 plus people will challenge the resiliency of the grass.  The race will start at Lenox Mall as usual but will take a route towards downtown for a new finish.  Actually this may work out better for us since it is closer to the MARTA train line for the return trip back north to the Buckhead MARTA station at the start line and the walk home.

On Sunday March 16th, the third Sunday in March, I went to Walmart and bought three Atlanta newspapers with the Peachtree registration form.  I wrote checks for the $28 with each application.  Within a few days after mailing the forms the checks were deposited indicating a that we again were going to run.  We are looking forward to the 4th.

July 4th – ATLANTA, GA - Another year has gone by and another 10K run.  Several Fluke Networks employees, family and friends gather for the 39th running of the Peachtree Road Race on July 4th in Atlanta, Georgia.  The Peachtree, with 55,000 runners, is the world’s largest 10K road race and arguably the best and most prestigious.  For the fourth consecutive year Chris Reed and James Harper have provided showers and hosted a post run brunch at their home which is located near the Peachtree starting line.

 Pictured from left to right are: Kevin Donnelly, Brian Reed, Chris Reed, Clay Brooks and Judy Donnelly.




The 37th Peachtree Road Race 2006


Brian and Kim came down for our second annual 4th of July "new" tradition that includes the running of the Peachtree. Our home, located near Phipps Plaza and Lenox Mall where the Peachtree race starts, is a convenient place for friends to gather that participate in the race too. James made a brunch loaded with carbs to recharge the runners after the race.

The day before the race we went down to the farm near Madison, GA. Brian and Kim wanted to see our cows. We made a full day of fishing (actually catching), eating southern BBQ with the Harper family, driving around the Madison town square, visiting Ronnie and Sandra’s to see their day old baby chicks that number over 40,000, corralling and moving Black Angus between pastures, driving tractors around the field and seeing the local Sunflower Festival.

We had a lasagna dinner that night before the race. Six thirty AM came early on the fourth. Our friends arrived promptly. The chopping sounds by helicopters were a buzz in the calm July morning air. The day was going to be another hot one, the kind of day that reinforces why locals gave the nickname Hot-lanta to our city.

Brian and I had been assigned running numbers that were in the last group – Group #9. By the time we got to Peachtree we were well back in the already swelling crowd of our fellow holiday runners. The race had started. Group #1, with the world class running Kenyans was off to Piedmont Park, the location of the finish line. The only way we could tell that the race had started from our perspective was that all of the helicopters left the skies above the shopping malls.

An hour and seventeen minutes later Group #9 had moved to the start line. There was a countdown over the PA system and we were off. For most of the race all we saw was asses and elbows as the early morning warmth turned to mid day heat. An hour and twelve minutes later Brian and I crossed the finish line. Race number two was now over and the tradition continues.


Our July 4th 2006 - our running gang from Old Ivy Road - Brian, Scott, Kathy, Judy, Kevin, Chris and Wes

The start of the race - approximately 1 hour and 15 minutes before we crossed the START
  - AJC Photo

55,000 runners at the start near Lenox Mall
- AJC Photo

The crowd thins to allow for a running pace   - AJC Photo

  - AJC Photo

  - AJC Photo











The 36th Peachtree Road Race 2005

It wouldn't be July 4th in Atlanta without the Peachtree Road Race. While the middle of summer may seem to be an unfriendly time to run a 10k race in Atlanta, this just makes it all the more of a challenge for runners from all over the world. The Peachtree Road Race is part of the Professional Road Running Organization (PRRO) Circuit, a prestigious series of road racing events. In fact, the Peachtree Road Race is the last leg of the "Triple Crown of Road Racing," beginning with the Credit Union Cherry Blossom 10 miler in the nation's capital, followed by Lilac Bloomsday Run 12k in Spokane, Washington.

The Peachtree Road Race follows a path that winds through the heart of the city, from Lenox Mall in Buckhead to Piedmont Park in Midtown Atlanta. It's a huge undertaking mainly handled by the 3500 dedicated volunteers that are up in the wee hours of the morning of the race, preparing the route so things go smoothly.

Restaurants and bars along the route offer specials and many have live entertainment to greet the runners as they pass by.

Every kind of runner, from the amateur to world class champions participate in the Peachtree Road Race. Those that are able to run the entire race and cross the finish line receive the coveted official race T-shirt marking their achievement. As many as 55,000 entrants participate each year, making it the largest 10k in the world.

The toughest part of the race for most people is "Heartbreak Hill," the incline that Piedmont Hospital sits on, as one heads from Buckhead towards Midtown. Many don't make it past this difficult leg of the race, but good conditioning and training in hot, humid weather can help you get over the hump. Keeping hydrated is also extremely important, especially if you are from out of town and are not used to Atlanta's humid conditions.

The race ends in Piedmont Park, and many runners rest in the ample shade that the park provides before heading back home. Others chow down at area restaurants, which are always packed after the event. The Peachtree Road Race is a fun way to kick off Independence Day in Atlanta, and is a local tradition that should not be missed.

 (from the web Peachtree Road Race - From Joy Johnston,)

Chris and Brian at the start

It's downhill to the finish line



Piedmont Park

History of the Peachtree Road Race

The Peachtree Road Race is the world's largest 10K road race and arguably the best and most famous. This year it will again host the PRRO Race of Champions, the culminating event in the 5-race Professional Road Running Organization's circuit. The elite field will be drawn from the top point-earners in the circuit. This will add even more sparkle to an already glittering event.

Peachtree's inauguration in 1970 held few indications of such future glory. The idea for a Fourth of July race down the city's main thoroughfare germinated the year before when a carload of Atlanta Track Club members went to Fort Benning for its modest Independence Day run. On the way home, someone suggested Atlanta should have its own Fourth of July event; another added it could go down the main street given the light holiday traffic. Thus is was that approximately 110 runners gathered together at the old Sears parking lot at the corner of Peachtree Road and Roswell Road and, at 9:30 a.m. on July 4, 1970, headed downtown towards Central City Park in the first Peachtree Road Race.

The race was but one of a series of small, local races put on by the Atlanta Track Club. The club had begun in 1964 when a group of post-collegiate runners joined together with some metro area coaches to support track and field and road running at the local level. The 1960s were the pre-dawn of the running boom; those who ran for exercise were viewed as amusing eccentrics. Road races were small and infrequent, with runners driving long distances to take part in these low-key competitions. To help fill this void, the ATC began a modest series of races in the late 1960s, administered informally and attended by a few stalwarts. Peachtree would become one of this series.

The first Peachtree differed somewhat from its companion races, even in the beginning, for it attracted a sponsor, Carling Brewery. That modest support allowed the race to afford trophies, a luxury not easily funded through the $2 entry fee. Nor did the budget include T-shirts though it compassed the 15-cent bus fare given to each finisher to return him back to Peachtree to his car at Sears.

Those who ran the inaugural event recall its jovial lack of pretension. Founder and race director, Tim Singleton, put the event on with a handful of volunteers. He, himself, set up registration and started the event. He then jumped in his car, got to the finish well before the lead runners, and oversaw the finish and awards.

During the early years, the course went from Sears in Buckhead to Downtown Atlanta. The runners ran down Peachtree's far right lane, kept close to the gutter by vigilant police. At Pershing Point, the course veered onto West Peachtree, rejoining Peachtree near Davison's (Macy's). The race ended at Central City Park. There was no water on the course as track and field rules at the time discouraged such aid for distances 10K or shorter. Spectators consisted of a few surprised pedestrians walking their dogs. Though modest, the race nonetheless attracted the local elite: it was won by Jeff Galloway, to be an Olympian two years later, and Gayle Barron, whose career would be capped with a 1978 win of the Boston Marathon.

Despite the heat and lack of pomp and frill, the race caught the imagination of the town's running community, and of those in the neighboring states. The 1971 Peachtree doubled in size to 198, a growth which took organizers by surprise. That year they used the Carling money to buy T-shirts, but had not ordered enough. They decided to give the shirts to the finishers until they ran out. Those who missed the cut vowed to return the following year and get one. Many did return, though in some cases their luck had not improved. Organizers this time had ordered enough for 250, with the exact design of the year prior, but this time 330 showed up. Close to a hundred left disappointed, promising to return and finally earn the shirt.

By 1973, earning the Peachtree shirt had become a goal of local runners. Its appearance belied its importance. The white shirt was undated, and was merely reprinted each year with little or no change, not even a date; those who had succeeded in earning all three shirts now owned three identical bits of cloth. As the importance of the shirt grew, so did the number of people who ran. Running as a recreational activity began to boom in the early 1970s following Frank Shorter's win in the 1972 Olympic Marathon. The name of this new sports hero, coupled with the growing popularity of Dr. Kenneth Cooper's book on the benefits of aerobic exercise, had thousands buying Nike waffle trainers and hitting the streets. Running was no longer just the activity of the scrawny eccentric.

The 1974 event doubled again, to 765 finishers. And, once again, organizers ran out of shirts. In 1975 it fared little better, when over a thousand runners finished. The 1974 and 1975 now carried the name Tuborg rather than Carling but were otherwise unaltered.

A major shift took place in 1976, the first major change in the history of the race. Carling, with lessening ties to Atlanta, dropped its sponsorship. The title sponsorship was taken by the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, largely at the instigation of Jim Kennedy, a runner and member of the Cox organization's inner circle, the newspaper's owner. Affiliation with the newspaper brought added coverage and corresponding popularity. The race organizers, for their part, began inviting the nation's elite road racers to participate. The field swelled to 2,300; Olympian Don Kardong won. Peachtree was swiftly becoming among the best known in the United States. But the shirt still looked the same, with the newspaper's logo replacing that of Tuborg. There was still no date.

The large fields were straining race organization. The 6,500 who entered the 1977 race overwhelmed Central City Park. In 1978, the race course was modified. The Start moved north to Lenox Square and the finish line was put in front of the Bath House in Piedmont Park. Runners followed the original course onto West Peachtree. They turned left at 12th Street and thus entered the Park towards the Bath House. The 1977 shirt also carried a new look: the familiar peach made its first appearance and as did the date. By 1979, the field had reached over 20,000. The course by now had again been slightly altered, with runners entering the Park at 14th Street. That year, as well, Bob Varsha was hired as the first paid director.

In 1980, race entries were limited at 25,000. The limit was set because, at five and half miles, the course narrowed to two lanes where it entered the Park from 14th Street. Organizers felt congestion there was too thick to allow more. Thus race numbers remained until 1990. Though the race limit remained steady, however, interest in the event continued to flourish and the race closed earlier and earlier. In 1989, the 25,000 was reached in just 9 days. Those not making the cut bellowed in anger. Race organizers took heed. The Start was redesigned. Time groups of 5,000 each were sent from the start at three minute intervals, allowing the crowd to stretch out sufficiently to ease comfortably through the 14th Street gate. In 1990, 40,000 ran, with a start lasting 30 minutes. The race took two weeks to close.

The 1980's saw other changes as well. In the early part of the decade, the Atlanta Journal-Constitution dropped its sponsorship. It returned in 1985. And later in the decade, in an effort to better meet the needs of children, for whom the Peachtree was both too long and too crowded, the Atlanta Track Club began Peachtree Jr., a fun run 3K for children 7-12. Run the first Saturday in June, it attracts its limit of 2,500.

The decade also saw the emergence of Peachtree's Wheelchair Division. Presently among the most beloved aspects of the race, the Division took formal shape in 1982. Today, more than 100 athletes take part, in what has become one of the world's finest wheelchair events, attracting top international competition. Sponsored by the Shepherd Spinal Center since its inception, the event has produced several world record-breaking performances with top contenders covering the 6.2 mile course in under 20 minutes (the course record for those on foot is 27:04).

During this period, Peachtree also found its niche in Atlanta's effort to win the bid to host the 1996 Olympics. Bid organizers invited International Olympic Committee (IOC) organizers to observe the race, and Peachtree's fourth mile (I-85 overpass to Colony Square) was dubbed the Olympic Mile, complete with a salutation banner and Olympic theme music over the sound system. In 1990, Peachtree hosted a breakfast for visiting IOC members along the Mile. In honor of Atlanta's winning bid, banner and theme music continue there.

Continued as well has been the race's popularity. In 1992, the race expanded to 45,000. That year, it closed in 9 days. In 1993, it closed in 6 days, though numbers had expanded to 45,000. And for its Silver Anniversary, it attracted 60,000 entries the first weekend it opened. The first 40,000 were accepted, the final 10,000 taken from a lottery of those entries postmarked in March (the race opened March 20). Over 10,000 were rejected.

As anticipated, the 1996 running of the Peachtree was memorable. July 4th was but two days before the Olympic Village opened to welcome the 10,000 athletes coming to town to participate in the Centennial Olympic Games. Thirty two Olympians made Peachtree's elite field the most illustrious ever; it was little surprise that both men's and women's course records fell, the men's being broken by Kenya's Joseph Kimani in a world best 10K time of 27:04.

The post-Olympic era has little dampened Peachtree's popularity. When the race opens the third Sunday in March each year, over 60,000 runners routinely vie to enter. In 1998, 55,000 runners were admitted, up from 50,000 in 1997. Among other changes that year as well, all runners who qualified for the early time groups by running a certified 10K in 54:59 minutes or under were timed, their names listed in the following morning's Atlanta Journal Constitution.

In 1999, Peachtree faced new challenges. Sewer construction in Piedmont Park required the final mile of the course be rerouted; for the first time since 1978 the race finished outside the Park. The new finish, on 10th Street at Charles Allen Drive, is broader and downhill, and has been greeted by runners with enthusiasm. Thus, the change is likely permanent. All finish area activity remains in Piedmont Park. As is so often the case, Peachtree continues to mix new elements into its traditions.