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With nearly 60,000 participants each year, the Peachtree Road Race is the largest race in the United States; the sheer rush of getting to share the road with so many other runners is indescribable, and the experience is truly unmatched. While the grandeur of this race is reason enough to check it out, the Peachtree offers a wealth of other positive attributes as well.
The overwhelming number of enthusiastic spectators and bands along the course are incredibly motivating, and they really helped to keep the energy high along the entire course. The aid stations were set on both sides of the road at every mile, and there were more than enough volunteers to ensure that there was no waiting to grab a cup. If for some reason you couldn't get your fill at the official aid stations though, there was an abundance of spectator stations offering everything from pizza and beer to all varieties of sport drinks. Overall the race was extremely well run, and between the pot holes in the road being circled with spray paint and ambulances standing ready to respond at nearly every block, you could really tell that no detail was overlooked in the planning and implementation of the race.
The course is moderately hilly, but this isn't necessarily a bad thing so long as you've properly prepared and you know what to expect. There's just enough variation in the course profile to keep things interesting, and there's a two mile downhill stretch betweens miles 1 and 3 where you can really bank some time. A few hills pop up after that to slow you down a bit, but the course has a net elevation loss of almost 100 feet, so it's really very manageable.
The only real negative about this race is getting to the starting line. Driving is definitely not an option as practically all of the roads in the area are closed to traffic. You're best bet is to take MARTA, Atlanta's public transportation system, but just know that you need to head to the station pretty early since the trains will be packed and you may not be able to fit on the first one that arrives. There just isn't a good solution to handling a group of 60,000 people all heading to the same place at the same time, so I really don't fault the race on this one. Even with this one disadvantage the race is still one of the best around. Plan accordingly, both for the hills and getting to the start, and I'm sure you'll have an amazing time. At least for me, there is now no other way to properly celebrate the Fourth of July, and doing this race will definitely be an annual tradition.