Every Independence Day, hordes of people from all over the world descend upon Atlanta, Georgia for the world’s largest 10K race, the Peachtree Road Race. It’s a tradition for many Atlantans and turns into one big party by 10 am. Over 70,000 people participate!
2021 Update: To follow pandemic protocols, the Peachtree Road Race is limiting entry and will take place over the course of two days.
1. Register early– There’s a lottery for race numbers and they usually run out within a few days, especially for the runners who are interested in making their personal best time. There are 25 waves and the first starts at 7:30 am. All numbers have a chip that will tell you your time. The entry fee is $35.
2. Train first– Once you find out that you get a number, start slowly with a mile at a time. Run a 5K for practice before the big day. Also, practice running on the road around 9 am so you won’t be shocked by the heat on race day. It’s okay to walk the entire race, as many people do this, but you’ll want to know what you’re dealing with.
3. Break in your shoes– Many people buy a new pair of running shoes before the race, but make sure they’re broken in before race day, otherwise you risk blisters and injuries. This goes for anything you’ll be wearing, including your iPhone armband, shorts, and shirts.
4. Attend the Peachtree Expo– In the two days before race day the best running stores and shoe brands take over the Georgia World Congress Center to distribute race packets and sell all sorts of gear to get you ready. You will need to bring a photo ID and your race confirmation.
5. Wake up early but don’t eat– This is more of a judgment call. Eating and drinking before the race means you will eventually have to find a bathroom, which isn’t always easy to find along the race route. The earlier you wake up the more energized you will feel.
6. Getting to the race– It’s best to take MARTA if you don’t want to worry about finding somewhere to park and figuring out how to get back to your car. Or you can find someone to drop you off near Lenox Square.
7. Attire and costumes– There will be people decked out in red, white, and blue, as well as crazy costumes. This has decreased in recent years due to safety concerns, but you’ll still see a few. We recommend wearing as light of clothing as possible because you will sweat right through it. And don’t forget the sunscreen!
8. Water stations– You don’t need to bring bottled water because there are dozens of official water stations scattered through the course, as well as bystanders handing out water from coolers in front of their houses. You don’t have to stop at every one, but a good rule is to drink a cup and to throw a cup on yourself.
9. Bathrooms– There are two sets of portable toilets at the starting line near Lenox and there aren’t more until after the first mile. From there, they are scattered along the route.
There’s an IHOP open that usually lets customers use their restrooms, but there’s only one for each gender. Editor’s Note: The IHOP has since closed.
10. Don’t do keg stands– You would think this would be a no-brainer. It’s a big party for everyone who’s not running and there will be people handing out beer along the way. You’ll regret even that cup of beer as soon as you trudge up the hill and you feel it sloshing in your belly.
11. Running vs. Walking– It’s completely up to you what you want to do, but runners stay to the left. It’s difficult to do much running when you’re surrounded by so many people. By the fourth mile, you won’t be the only walker.
12. Cardiac Hill– In front of the Piedmont Hospital is the biggest hill of the course, known fondly as “Cardiac” or “Heart Attack Hill” for the injuries sustained there. It’s the hardest part of the course, followed by the extra mile from the photo line to the actual finish line.
13. T-Shirts– The reason you run is to see what the winning t-shirt design is! You only get a shirt if you finished the race. There are different lines for each size when you get to Piedmont Park.
14. After Parties– Piedmont Park is the finish line and is full of people giving away free food: ice cream, bananas, bagels, Coke products, water, waffles and everything in between. The folks at Park Tavern even have beer ready for finishers. And don’t forget to have fun!
What to Bring to the Peachtree Road Race
Bring as little as possible. You don’t need a backpack or multiple water bottles. Headphones can be a distraction and you’ll be entertained by DJs and bands along the way.
Where to Eat After the Race
The race ends at Piedmont Park, so many of the places in Midtown will be crowded. Park Tavern hosts an event every year. Your best bet is to walk the Beltline closer to the Old Fourth Ward, the Westside, and Buckhead. Food Terminal, R. Thomas Deluxe Grille, and Nuevo Laredo Cantina are a few of our favorites.
Where to Stay in Atlanta
Looking for a place to stay in Atlanta for the Peachtree Road Race? The Loews Midtown Atlanta, Hotel Clermont, the W Atlanta Midtown Hotel, and the Highland Inn are a few favorites. Airbnb is another good alternative.