With an expected 70,000 runners and more than 45 years and counting in the making, the AJC Peachtree Road Race is guaranteed to be a blast −and not just because it happens on the Fourth of July.
If you're one of the lucky registrants, congratulations. And if you are entering for the first time, welcome to you, too.
Note: Those not members of the Atlanta Track Club must enter through a lottery that's open through March 22.
Whether you're an elite athlete crossing one of the largest 10-kilometer races in the world off your bucket list or a local entering your first big road race, the AJC Peachtree Road Race is a great place for newbies–if you follow a few basic strategies.
Here are seven ways to make your first AJC Peachtree Road Race the best ever:
If you're based in Atlanta:
Consider joining the Atlanta Track Club's training program for the race.
Whether you want the AJC Peachtree Road Race to be a personal best or are just looking to get in good enough shape to finish, consider registering for the ATC training program. The weekly sessions are designed for all levels of participants and take place on Saturday mornings with additional mid-week workouts.
You can register as part of the lottery registration or after you've been selected as part of the lottery through April 30.
Plan your MARTA route ahead of time.
Never have you been so happy that Atlanta has an epic public transportation system as you will be when you use it to bypass the crush of humanity and closed roads on race day. MARTA will run starting at 5 a.m. for the AJC Peachtree Road Race. Use Lenox station for the start and Midtown or Art Center station for the finish. To plan your route, call MARTA's Customer Information Center at 404-848-5000 or visit the website.
Still not convince MARTA is the best option? Check out this link for a list of the road closures near the race that will happen starting about 5 a.m. on race day.
Consider having your number mailed to you.
That way you can avoid the crush of entering downtown Atlanta twice, once to pick up your number at the Peachtree Health and Fitness Expo on July 2 or 3.
If you're coming from out of town for the AJC Peachtree Road Race:
Stay near the starting line.
Experienced out of town runners will tell you that a top priority for enjoying the race weekend is shopping for a hotel room at the starting line near Lenox Square. Start looking as soon as you're selected to run for the best rates. For a list of hotels quite close to the race start and up to 1 mile away, including the The Westin Buckhead Atlanta and the Ritz-Carlton Buckhead, located across the street from starting line, click here.
Train for hills!
Abigail Land, a Charleston, South Carolina-based RRCA certified running coach, ran in the 2015 AJC Peachtree Road Race as part of the ambassador team for Mizuno Running. She describes the course on her blog, Back at Square Zero. "The whole place is hills!," she said. "Not always big hills, but rolling hills the whole race: down just a little, up just a little, down a little, up a little." Prepare for the hills during training, and know where to expect them on the course by consulting this link with a list of the elevation across the course.
For those running their first big road race:
Land also offers tips for newbies to marathoners that definitely apply to those running their first at the AJC Peachtree Road Race:
Practice like it is race day.
Land recommends trying to mimic the course conditions and any other running challenges you might face in the road race. "Try everything you plan on using or wearing on race day out on your long runs," she said as part of an article titled "Marathon Tips for Newbies." "I mean to the letter. Wear the same underwear, shorts, pants, shirt, socks, shoes, etc. so you can make sure everything is comfortable and stays in place. Pack your fuel and hydration and practice using it. If you want to use cell phone apps or take a camera with you then do it on your long run to make sure it is practical and will work for you."
Add "fast finish practice" to your workout.
To prevent the dreaded late race crash and burn, teach your legs to push at the end of the race, Land says. To learn to incorporate fast finishes, click here.