How the Peachtree Road Race Works

Peachtree Road Race Route

Part of what makes the Peachtree Road Race so alluring is its course and the challenge of tackling Cardiac Hill in the Georgia summer humidity.

Everyone starts out near Lenox Square Mall on Peachtree Road, then heads south past the original starting line near Paces Ferry Road. Because of the race's immense size, runners begin the race in one of several groups known as starting waves. The first two waves are reserved for the fastest runners, whose registered times must be verified beforehand for placement. Waves are usually sent out in 12-minute increments, and the last runners may not start until well past an hour after the race begins. The first mile is a gradual incline from 996 feet (303.6 meters) to the highest point of the course at the 1-mile marker, an elevation of 1,017 feet (310 meters). From there it's a steep decline over the next mile and a half.

The course bottoms out just before the end of mile three. By now, you've covered 21 feet (about 6 meters) of elevation change. This is where you must dig down deep because the next half of a mile rises sharply to 930 feet. Welcome to Cardiac Hill.

Cardiac Hill peaks in front of Piedmont Hospital (coincidence?) before dipping a bit at the four-mile mark near the on-ramp for Interstate 85. Mile five is a gradual rise in elevation to 973 feet (296.57 m) at 14th Street. From there it's a straight shot downhill to 10th Street where the course finally leaves Peachtree (now Peachtree Street) with a left turn on 10th Street. The final half-mile sprint to the finish is also downhill as the course enters Piedmont Park to the finish line.

Along the route, the participants are motivated by music from several live bands. It takes approximately 3,000 volunteers to put on the race, and more than 150,000 spectators show up to offer encouragement to runners, so it's truly a packed house.

That's the route. Now let's see what goes on once participants converge on Piedmont Park.