Sunday, October 27, 2013

Day 2,491: Atlanta 10-Miler

After running in 10-mile races in Washington, D.C. and Oregon and knowing other cities have them as well, I've always thought that Atlanta would do well to have this distance.

So on March 26 when I saw the Atlanta Track Club would hold one, I immediately signed up! It seemed like a great deal at the time, at $43.95. A total of 1,070 people finished the race, with way more women (644) than men (426) doing so.

But this likely will be my only running in it, since it is so hilly.

It's easy to see how this hilly course was created -- the 10-miler is basically the last 10 miles of the new Atlanta Marathon course, starting near Mile 16 and conveniently just outside the western edge of Piedmont Park.

I didn't really know much about the course but when I saw it, I knew already there are hills that I don't even like to run in practice runs -- up Rock Springs, up Johnson Road. These are the reasons why I never wanted to try the Atlanta Marathon!

The race started near the top of the big hill at Piedmont Road, still a half-hour before sunrise. So everyone ran in the dark and I just tried to take it easy. The course was on the roads but coned off and especially when we spilled into the Morningside neighborhood, it seemed like the width of the one-lane cones wasn't enough for all the runners.

After reaching Briarcliff, the course turns on Shepherds lane near the QT, dipping down a sharp hill and then up one to Lavista. I've driven this route many times and never noticed how steep the hill is!

Lavista becomes Lindbergh after Cheshire Bridge and then the course goes down Peachtree Battle after dipping under the freeway.

The course reaches Peachtree and then ... ha ha, you are at the bottom of Heartbreak Hill as in the Peachtree 10K road race.

I don't think I've come upon so many people walking up hills in this race. Sadly, Heartbreak Hill wasn't the end to the hills. You turn on Deering Road not too long after (I was thinking we would turn on Spring), which is both parallel and behind Atlantic Station.

This is another soul-killing hill ... that leads to the 17th Street bridge near IKEA, which is another fierce hill before the end of the race.

Luckily, I took all of the hills strongly. I didn't really have much of a kick at the end, but I also didn't care that much. I just wanted the race to be over.

Walking back the 2.5-miles from Atlantic Station to home, I felt sorry for the marathon runners who were just exiting Piedmont Park and had 10 miles to go. They had no idea what they were in for.

I wonder about the future of this event, with only 1,076 people finishing. A quick search of the Soldier Field 10-Miler in Chicago reveals they had more than 11,000 finishers. The 2013 Cherry Blossom 10-Miler in Washington had 17,000 finishers. How can the city with the largest road race in the world have such paltry attendance in other events?

I know the cities are different but you can't have such a hilly inaugural and hope that word of mouth will help the next go-round. It seems however convenient a much less difficult course will help get better attendance.

Time: 7:15 a.m.
Temp: 45 degrees
Gear: Technical T-shirt, long (Big Peach 5-miler), Technical T-shirt, short (blue Asics), shorts, Nike Air Pegasus + 30.

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