Ah, the Peachtree Road Race. Even if you’re not a runner, you’ve almost certainly heard of this 10K that happens each Fourth of July in Atlanta. What began in 1970 with just more than 100 runners has evolved into the largest 10K in the world when 60,000 new best friends share a run, jog or stroll down one of Atlanta’s main thoroughfares, Peachtree Street.
There’s plenty of official race information and preparation tips over at the Atlanta Track Club. Definitely read them – running or walking 6.2 miles on a hot Atlanta summer morning isn’t something you should do without proper training and hydration.
But if you’re looking for information about which mile is the best place to take a selfie, where to score free beverages (of the adult variety), and in general how to live your best mom life during this 6.2-mile long party, you’re in the right place. Lace up your sneakers and leave the kids with a babysitter! Here’s your mile-by-mile moms’ guide to enjoying the Peachtree Road Race:
Good thing you’re used to getting up at the crack of dawn because the Peachtree Road Race starts at 6:45 a.m. with the wheelchair division, followed by the elite runners at 7:15 a.m. and the main start waves at 7:00 a.m.
Even if you’re seeded in one of the later waves, arrive at the start line early to enjoy some “adult swim” time – all runners must be at least 10 years old. Bring a disposable/recyclable cup of coffee and spend a few minutes exhaling with friends, checking out others’ patriotic race costumes and using the bathroom (okay, the porta-potties) without your children trying to get in. Listen to a beautiful rendition of “The Star-Spangled Banner” just before the race start and some pump-up music as each wave is sent off – it’s a nice change-up from the kiddie ballads on repeat at home or your teenager’s favorite radio station in the car. Finally, wave to the cameras as you move up toward the start – the Peachtree Vision screens that debuted in 2017 show off the crowd!
As you head south on Peachtree from Lenox Square, you’re running past some of Atlanta’s best shopping and restaurants. Pick out a fine dining establishment and file it away in your head as your next date night destination. You’ll plan the rest of your future date night later on in the race.
After crossing Piedmont Road, grab a shot or a beer from one of the Buckhead bars handing them out to runners. Sure, it’s early in the day, but you’re kid-free for the moment and you deserve it! If alcohol’s not your thing, find some race spectators handing out popsicles, sports drinks, and water to thirsty runners. Grab the cold refreshment of your choice and enjoy, because it’s likely already getting hot.
Now that you’re past the noise of Buckhead’s commercial district, enjoy some relative peace and quiet again as you pass several of Atlanta’s large churches and cathedrals. Need some absolution for mom guilt or other assorted parenting sins? Look for the holy water fountain on the right as you pass The Cathedral of St. Philip. Cool off underneath the spray and accept the dean’s blessing for the coming year. You know you’re gonna need it!
This part of the course is a little tough because you’re running up “Cardiac Hill,” so named because of Piedmont Hospital’s location along this stretch of the road and because you’ll feel the burn as you ascend approximately 140 feet over half a mile. But as a mom, you know that’s nothing compared to chasing a toddler around all day! Make sure you grab some water from the water station at the base of the hill. It’s hot, and you don’t want to become dehydrated.
Once you reach the top, give high-fives to the Shepherd Center patients on the right-hand sidewalk. Your struggles to get your kid to eat more veggies or quit fighting with their sibling are valid, but these individuals are working hard to overcome brain or spinal cord injuries. The determination you’ll see on their faces as they cheer you on will put your parenting difficulties into perspective. Return the positive vibes they freely hand out and use that energy to remind yourself that you’re a great mom who’s about to have an awesome second half of this race!
The first five miles of the Peachtree Road Race each feature a local band or DJ. As you coast downhill for a bit, enjoy the music and let loose! This is also a good time to grab another beer or popsicle from race spectators offering them, but please use common sense and enjoy proffered drinks responsibly. This is the mile where you run over I-85 on the decorated Peachtree bridge. Grab a fellow mom and stop for a fun selfie with the Atlanta traffic you’re definitely not a part of this morning in the background!
Remember the restaurant you picked out during Mile 1? Now that you’re in Midtown, it’s time to plan the rest of your future date night. You’ll run past the High Museum of Art, the Woodruff Arts Center (home to the Alliance Theater and the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra) SCAD’s Museum of Fashion + Art, plus more fine restaurants and bars that would make great places for dessert or a nightcap. Decide on your preferred date night entertainment and make a mental note to call for reservations or tickets when you get home.
Mile 6 (and 0.2):
Who doesn’t love a creative race sign? Lots of spectators show up holding posters and signs with motivational sayings and funny quotes. Take a moment to revel in the fact that this is one time you’re not entertaining others, but others are entertaining you! If you see a sign you especially enjoy, let the artist know you appreciate their work!
The final stretch east on 10th Street includes official race photographers. Seize this opportunity to be in front of the lens instead of behind it, and flash them your best smile! Yeah, you’re probably going to be sweaty and if you wore makeup, it’s not going to be in the greatest shape at this point. But have fun with this professional photo op so that later, when you look up these snaps online, you can show your kids that you were fully present and having a blast doing something healthy and fun.
The race is over but the party isn’t! Let the race volunteers guide you to your earned t-shirt prize and a snack box. Drink some water whether you feel thirsty or not – it’s July, it’s Atlanta, and you need to stay hydrated. Enjoy some more kid-free time before your family meets you in the finisher area in Piedmont Park’s south meadow or you have to go home to relieve the babysitter. Pick up some snacks and sports drinks from the race vendors, groove to some music from the awards stage, or simply park yourself under the shade of a tree and people-watch.
The Peachtree is one of Atlanta’s signature events, and the feeling of community on the meadow, on the day that celebrates the whole American community, will make you proud to be a part of it.
Are you running the Peachtree Road Race, or have you run it before? What race tips would you give to fellow moms?