Peachtree Road Race on the 4th of July
My last Peachtree Road Race number.
I ran the Peachtree Road Race every year from 1982 to 1987. Well, that is only six, but it seemed like more. It is an annual event in Atlanta which started in the early 1970s.
My son Rocky has ran it a number of years now, probably by now he has ran it more than my six times. He will be running in it tomorrow.
I had my number for the 1988 race and a day before the race my sister-in-law called in the morning and said her husband (Anna’s brother) had evidently died at Lake Juliet about 20 miles north of Macon, Georgia. While swimming alongside a friend in a row boat he went under and did not come back up.
Anna’s family was in turmoil. I decided not to run the Peachtree and looked in want ads and found someone living not far away that wanted to buy a number to run. I called him and sold it to the guy. It was an easy transaction, no bickering.
My father also died about ten days later, but at moment that was yet to come.
Getting back to the Peachtree Road Race, The years that I ran I would always go down to the starting area, on Peachtree Road in front of Lenox Square Mall the Sunday before the race and run the route. Why? Because it was fun.
Usually on the Sunday morning pre-run practice there are several hundred running. I remember one Sunday morning, while running, seeing an aged dirty looking homeless person gnawing on a bone by a garbage can in an alley that ran beside a restaurant.
The Sunday run is just a fun trial run. And you even got a tee-shirt at the end in Piedmont Park. Each year, or most of the years, somebody at the finish line was handing out Trust Company of Georgia Tee-shirt. It had a big T on the front.
Each year I would collect my Trust Company “T” shirt, and get my bike that I chained to a post before hand and pedal back to Lenxo.
On the 4th,the day of the real race, which isn’t a “real” race unless you are a noted runner there are much more people there. I think when I ran the participants were limited to 25,000. Now, I think it is double that, if not more.
At the starting line you are placed according to your number. I always rated in the last segment, or the slowest. I have seen people like Jimmy Carter ready to run, also anchor man John Pruett, and some other local newsmen.
Behind a big tall building near Lenox was a patch of woods. Once, I thought that was a good place to pee. When I got there, behind almost every bush was a girl’s head hunkered over taking care of business.
There was also what they called “The World’s Longest Latrine” which was shielded from view by a long hanging canvas…. The men would stand alongside a very long cement parking lot rain gully and relieved themselves. Once I was there and a bunch of women came rushing in telling the men to move over and squatting over the gulley. And other women came rushing in to with their cameras taking pictures…. It was a riot, or almost one.
In the race, in the back part, after the gun shot or whatever went off and people began moving slowly forward, you had to walk almost a mile before the people around you could pick up their pace to a run.
It was always fun and interesting to be part of that moving force. More than once, groups of Marines were near me singing in cadence. I remember once lady painted green and dressed like the Statue of Liberty.
At points, starting I think at Cardiac Hill, which the hill Piedmont Hospital is on, volunteers were on the side with water cups. You would gulp the water and throw the cup down and keep on running, maybe the next water stop you would splash the water in your face to cool off.
At the finish line you got in line for your official Peachtree Road Race t-shirt and another line for a free beer. I understand the free beer is a thing of the past.
Interesting, I remember a fast female runner that the Atlanta Track Club invited to run and also invited her to give a speech at the finish line when all the festivities ere taking place, which she did. Then, an hour of so later, we were driving up Peachtree and there was the same lady, in her same running outfit, walking back the six mile trip alone. I felt for her, it was like she was no longer needed.
The whole run, from start to finish was like a mad-house… a fun mad-house.
That was many years and pounds ago.