Peachtree Road Race struggles with finish line

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There’s an interesting debate raging about where to end the Peachtree Road Race, the annual Fourth of July event that draws tens of thousands of runners. But this year, the 10K run – like other signature events held in Atlanta – was booted from Piedmont Park last month when city officials banned large-scale events in the parks.

The new restrictions forced Atlanta Pride organizers to scramble and move the festival to the Civic Center. But the location switch also meant Pride has to change its traditional date from the last weekend in June to a week later and the July 4th weekend. That puts it squarely in the cross-hairs of the Peachtree Road Race, meaning two large-scale events in Midtown along with other Fourth of July celebrations. (The lingering drought might also sway city officials to restrict team sports in the parks. Read more.)

Without Piedmont Park and the civic center, Road Race organizers are in a bind when it comes to selecting a place to put their finish line. The event traditionally starts at Lenox Mall, with the 55,000 runners snaking along Peachtree Street and ending their 6.2-mile trek at the park.

Their logistical problems continued last week when Georgia Tech said the race can’t end on its campus. Tech officials said the volume and density of people – notwithstanding the fact that the school hosts crowds larger than the Road Race during football season – would impact it’s central command emergency response location and jeopardize campus safety. Huh?

Now the Atlanta Journal-Constitution has jumped into the fray. The paper’s Sports Talk blog weighed in this morning, asking readers where they would end the face. So far, suggestions are favoring Atlantic Station, which said last week it’s interested but hasn’t been contacted by race officials. Tech is also taking a beating in the blog:

Tech was the perfect scenario. Runners take a right instead of a left on 10th, finish over the interstate, and walk through campus, on a holiday, before most students are awake. And Tech said no thanks, we don’t want the publicity opportunity. And we wonder why most people think Tech is standoffish and doesn’t attract more fans…

I really think Tech could have stepped up an accommodated this on either side of the connector. What about the big undeveloped lot across from the Cheetah? Couldn’t they take that over an shut down Spring Street and Williams Street?

Inside Tech’s football stadium. We all know nobody will be using it for any good.

For me, I’m sticking with the annual 5K from Front Runners Atlanta. But with Pride’s date change, Pride Run/Walk organizers are still working out the logistics of moving their race, too.

Where should the Peachtree Road Race end? Offer your suggestions here.


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