On Sunday I took down the Publix Marathon with 500 of my other "cousins". I have run the Publix half marathon 3 times and I have never even considered running the marathon. I am usually so tired and angry after the half that running an additional 13.1 miles in ATL never crossed mind, until last year. Last year Heather King, a fellow runner, started a group called Team Takedown Publix Marathon. She challenged African American runners nationwide and anyone else who was interested to run this marathon. Atlanta does not have a premier marathon since no one is interesting is running the hills of ATL for 26.2 miles. I accepted the challenge and started training in January. Here's my experience.
This year, the expo was smaller and held at the Omni Hotel. It was easily accessible from the MARTA and there was plenty of parking at the Georgia Dome lots. The vendors were limited to mostly sponsors. What was absent were other race companies with great promotional discounts. I was bit disappointed in the number of vendors because I had my mind set on buying new running gear, but my wallet was happy. There were also many booths for taking great photos.
Packet pick up was a quick process. I, along with a few others, encountered an error in our receiving our Ultimate Peach bibs. To earn Ultimate Peach status, runners had to complete the 2016 Triple Peach series and the 2017 Publix Marathon. Ultimate Peach runners were granted entry to a post race tent with snacks and were awarded a wooden watch. Thankfully my bib was fixed, but some runners didn't catch the error until they arrived at the Ultimate Peach tent. Thankfully, Atlanta Track Club is making sure everyone is receiving their watch for qualifying for Ultimate Peach.
The race started at 7 am at north side of Olympic Centennial Park. There was plenty of parking on race day. It was easy to find gear check and navigate to the starting line. I decided to run 2:1 intervals to conserve my energy because Publix is a tough course. I also took advantage of being in Corral A as an Ultimate Peach runner.
The marathon and half were together for the first 7 miles. The first 7 miles are from downtown to the King Center, Inman Park, Little Five Points, and the Carter Center (in that order). I will admit that I was terrified at the split since I had no idea what was coming next. After passing the split we headed to Candler Park and then on to Decatur, my neighborhood. The hills were not bad in Decatur and since we were running my normal routes I felt right at home. I am proud that I didn't jump ship at mile 14 and go home.
After Decatur we headed to Emory University/Druid Hills. The race got real around mile 18. Running through the Druid Hills and then Virginia Highland neighborhoods started to wear on me. The down hills gave me life, but the uphills were tough. Mile 23 in Midtown looked like an inclined ski slope. Miles 24 and 25 were at my alma mater Georgia Tech and that's when we said our goodbye to hills. The longest distance for the race was from mile 25 to 26.2 on Marietta Street to the finish at Olympic Centennial Park.
Overall, Publix was my second fastest marathon after Savannah. I still can't believe I ran faster than NYC and Rock 'n' Roll NOLA. The race really gave me the confidence that I needed to run Big Sur next month. As of today, I do not see myself running Publix Marathon again. Given the right medal or movement, I could be persuaded.