The website for the US 10k Classic states that the race will be returning in 2012. This is my absolute favorite race in Atlanta and I was really bummed that is was skipped for 2011. This race has some nice hills and is one of the tougher road races in the city, yet somehow I got a PR on this course. Since I’m feeling excited about this one coming back, I’m going to give you a race report from the last one in 2010. Better late than never!
I was very nervous about the course as I had never run this race before. The race course starts at Cumberland Mall and ends at Whitewater Park in Marietta. I knew there were some massive hills because I have driven up highway 41 many times before, and I wondered if I could keep a decent pace throughout the course. The night before the race, I took the family to Scalini’s and ordered the pasta sampler to carb-up.
The next morning, I was feeling great. I don’t know if it was the pasta the night before or the plain bagel for breakfast, but I was full of energy and ready to race. I found my spot at the starting line and was only two people back from the start. As I waited, I saw the absolute coolest opening of any race I had been to. During the national anthem, three skydivers parachuted to the ground in front of me. I pulled out my phone to take a couple pictures…
The last parachutist was carrying the American flag and touched down right at the end of the Star Spangled Banner. What a great way to open a race!
With all that motivation, I blasted out of the starting line at top speed. I usually try to pace myself a bit more, but it was a great feeling, not to mention, that it is straight downhill right out of the gate. You hit your first hill right after you shout “Under the Bridge!” at the 285 overpass. It is a straight uphill climb to the Best Buy shopping center. My wife took a picture of me as I was cresting this hill. (I’m the one in the orange circle.)
This is the start of the first and really only nice downhill run of the race. Once you run downhill to the clock tower / village parkway area, you get another steep incline to Windy Hill Road. About this time the sun started coming up and beating down on that asphalt. It was a tough climb. Once you cross Windy Hill Rd, the course is mostly flat by Dobbins Airforce Base. Then ANOTHER uphill to the big chicken. Once you pass the big chicken you are home free. A nice gradual downhill to the finish line in front of Whitewater Park.
Looking down at my watch, I couldn’t believe it – a personal best 10k time. In fact, I still haven’t beat it – even at easier race courses.
I don’t know whether it was the food, the opening ceremonies or just psyching myself up, but definitely my favorite road race to date… I can’t wait for September!!