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How The Peachtree Road Race Quickly Turned Into A Family Rivalry

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I am not a runner. But when my mom picked up the sport and started trash-talking about how well she was doing, I had no other choice than to pick up the exercise and race my family in the 2010 Peachtree Road Race.

The Start of the 2010 Peachtree Road Race via Bob Andres of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution <a href=""></a>
The Start of the 2010 Peachtree Road Race via Bob Andres of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution

I am the first to admit I am not a runner and I do not necessarily enjoy the exercise. However, I do consider myself very competitive so when my mother started running, setting personal bests, and trash-talking to me all at the same time, I knew I had to pick up the sport so I could settle it once and for all that I too, could run.

The race to be run was the Peachtree Road Race where 55,000 people from all over the country and even from around the world come to participate. For years it had been the world's largest 10k race and was only recently relieved of that race by one in Vancouver.  Three of my additional family members also chose to participate: my mom, my dad, and my little brother. I wasn't sure what to expect from such an event. While training to run 6.2 miles I had only managed to work up to 4.5. Would I make it through the race without walking?  Naturally, the competition aspect was a strong feeling amongst myself and my brother who are only 18 months apart. Would I beat the other members of my family and solidify my Tufts' running dominance? Bring on the race!

The race was an adrenaline rush. It is naturally easy to get excited about any event when you are surrounded by thousands of people with the same interest. Why do you think I like soccer for a month every four years? It's the atmosphere. I started with my dad, one wave behind my mom who said she wanted the four-minute head start. The bell went off and there we went, 6.2 miles until home.

What I saw on this 4th of July, a Sunday, was truly a unique experience. Since no one could get to church on Peachtree Street, the church members who could walk to the area, along with their respective clergymen, came out to watch and cheer the runners on. A Catholic priest was even throwing out holy water. Running through Buckhead and into downtown was a journey that happened rather quickly and before I knew it, I was two miles away from the finish line. But as I got closer, the city blocks seemed to countdown at an extremely slow rate. The city was teasing me, daring me to walk the remainder of the way.

17th Street: ankles and knees starting to fatigue

10th Street, seen in the distance, turning left off Peacthree. Turn on whatever speed I have left. I don't remember 10th Street being so long or hilly!

I had set a feasible goal of running the race in under hour. After crossing the finish line, I had a time of just over 54 minutes, success. But did I win? I beat my mom and dad but my younger brother was somewhere farther back in the pack as his wave started as I crossed the finish line.

I start seeing members of his wave cross the finish, 50 minutes, 50 minutes 30seconds, I'm checking my watch, legitimately nervous thinking that he could actually beat me (sad isn't it?). There's my brother, Cameron, churning the final hundred feet. I look at my watch. It's going to be close.

Once over, the race did not seem as difficult as I anticipated and I was able to recover rather quickly. I didn't get bored either, a common occurrence for me maybe because the course is a long stretch of road and I didn't have to run in circles. The atmosphere was great and people run it because they want to, because they enjoy it. From the ages of 12 to 70, there were runners taking part in a tradition 40 years old, all running at their own pace for their own reasons. But what about my brother?

He beat me. By a minute. And I don't like losing.

Next year we're running in the same wave so I can set matters straight.

Photographs by coka_koehler used in background montage under Creative Commons. Thank you.