Sponsored by the Dekalb Police Alliance there was a good presence of public safety persons (police, fire and civilian) as well as a few current and former elected officials. On the course there were lots of running pairs, moms and daughter, dads and daughter and fair amount of teens and tweens in the race. What was atypical of this race was that there were not many of the “gung-ho running for a PR” racers, you know the ones who do all that running before during and after the race. These folks just were not there, which is suprising because the race is an official Peachtree Road Race qualifier. In terms of sheer numbers, I’m not really sure how many persons participated in the race but I’d guess in the low hundreds, which is really ideal as there was no congestion in the race start and finish areas, nor were there there any issues exiting the parking areas.
The course started and ended on West Exchange Place in front of the Dekalb Police/Fire Rescue Headquarters. The course wound past LA Fitness and turned left on Northlake Parkway, which meant the beginning was pretty much uphill. Proceeding uphill and crossing over LaVista Road, the course turned left onto the continuation of Northlake Parkway which was nice and flat. Crossing I-285 the runners and walkers proceeded downhill to Henderson Mill, made a U-Turn at Henderson Mill and Northlake Parkway and headed back, hitting both the 1 and two mile marks behind Northlake Mall. Making the climb from behind the mall back to the topside at Northlake Parkway and LaVista, it really was “downhill from here” as spectators and volunteers always tell you. For an out and back course, this one was nice. The hills were manageable and again, the mild temperatures, friendly officers and sprinkling of volunteers along the route made the running the course pleasurable.
Centered at the Dekalb Police/Fire Rescue headquarters, there were plenty of shiny vehicles with flashing lights to view, which were interesting for both children and adults alike. Of particular note in front of the headquarters was a really beautiful 9/11 Memorial. Both before and after the race many participants spent time viewing and photographing the memorial. Post race festivities included activities for children, sponsor booths to pick up additional goodies for your goodie bag and music. The really big deal for me was that they had COLD water and sports drinks. Many races I’ve participated in give you a bottled water straight from the case. In GA in September, it’s still warm so that cold water was much appreciated. There was also plenty of food for hungry finishers.
For the last few years, it’s been a tradition to go check out a new park following the Peachtree Road Race. The purpose of which is two-fold, 1)finding a new spot to enjoy and to run in and 2)to exhale from Peachtree. This year’s exhale took place at Gwinnett County’s Rhodes Jordan Park in Lawrenceville, Georgia.
Rhodes Jordan Park at 100 East Crogan Street is nestled in downtown Lawrenceville and is built around Lawrenceville City Lake. At a large 162 acres, nearly any activity you’d like to enjoy can be accommodated there. The park features: a community recreation center, community room with catering kitchen, classrooms, dance/aerobics room, fishing lake, pavilions, playgrounds, seven baseball/softball fields, football field overlay, outdoor leisure play pool, double gym, tennis center with eight lighted courts, outdoor baseball court, outdoor horseshoe court (the first I’ve seen at any of the parks visited thus far in the county) and a 1.9-mile paved multi-purpose trail.
The beauty of the park is the lake and how everything is nestled around it. There is a an abundance of water fowl and in the early morning they pretty much have the run of the place, with their numbers decreasing as the morning heats up. There are several boardwalks bordering and crossing over the lake as well as a secure railing on the low lying areas of the park. There’s also a variety of wildflowers, and especially lovely to see, butterflies. I visited the park in July and September and the visuals were spectacular in both cases, which is especially enjoyable while putting in the miles.
According to the park master plan there’s a network of trails totaling 3.8 miles. What’s actually paved, connecting and usable is closer to the 1.9 miles listed on the website and it is a fairly easy 1.9. Taking the paved areas around the lake, behind the picnic area and near the horseshoe courts, will give you a nice crossing loop with minimal hills. The trail is not marked, which is fine. Those who keep track of such things as mileage (which obsessive runners like me do) can just do a timed run and do the math to arrive at mileage.
The trail is mostly shaded with only small sections bordering the lake open and you’ll feel the heat, only momentarily. The trail is really enjoyable because there’s a lot to look at and keep your mind off of how long you plan to be there, the relative ease of it is also good, for any distance or type of run (repeats, tempo). In fact yesterday I saw a young man doing hill repeats up a grassy hill to the trail. With all the beauty there is one drawback of the trail at Rhodes Jordan Park and that is the poop. Waterfowl, especially the gigantic geese (and there are several varieties) we have here make poop that’s as big as dog poop and it is everywhere on the loop directly surrounding the lake, so watch your step.