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Race Recap: Craft Classic Atlanta Half Marathon

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The annual guys weekend pilgrimage this year took five childhood friends to Hotlanta! An Atlanta Braves game, delicious food, copious amounts of coffee and brewery visits were in store for the five of us last weekend and my buddy Matt and I thought we would throw in a half-marathon for good measure. We usually try to do a race and in the past have done the Flying Pig Half-Marathon, the Bourbon Derby Half-Marathon in Kentucky, a 5K in Pittsburgh and more! Therefore, this year we thought we’d keep the tradition rolling and signed up for the Craft Classic Atlanta Half-Marathon.

The race kicked off nice and early but we weren’t going to be fooled as we saw the forecast called for some warm temperatures complete with humidity. With temps slated to rise into the 90’s, an early start allowed for a glimmer of hope that we would beat some of the heat but it was still quite warm as we toed the starting line.

The race kicked off in a park and made a quick loop through part of the park before heading out into the streets of Atlanta. I’m not sure why I assumed Atlanta was relatively flat but that assumption was quickly but to rest as we tackled what seemed to be hill after endless hill. The race took runners through residential neighborhoods and through some great, historic downtown areas many which seemed to have a little bit of a rebirth with some new restaurants, stores and housing. Running through the state that calls Coca-Cola home, the Coke murals that were painted on the sides of buildings were quite remarkable and added a nostalgic charm to the area.

When we reached the mile 4 marker, Matt and I agreed that this was now going to be a race where we just wanted to cross the finish line. The humidity was soupy and thick and even after running in the summer humidity of the Boston area and Matt running in the heat of Kentucky, this humidity was something fierce and with the combination of hills made for some of the more challenging running conditions we have faced in some time.

We ran along a great bike path near the Ponce marketplace and we ran past New Realm Brewery and sized it up for a post-run tour and lunch with the other three guys once we finished the race. Around the mile 10 marker we made a right turn up yet another hill and were greeted to the delicious aromas of a local homemade donut shop on the corner. I’d be lying if the thought didn’t cross our mind to just drop out of the race, polish off about a half-dozen donuts and then take a Bird scooter back to the hotel. However, we kept on trucking toward the finish line.

Closing in on the mile 12 marker, a high school friend and her kids who now live in Atlanta cheered us on and then met us at the finish line. After passing the mile 12 marker there was another punch-you-in-the-gut sized hill to run up before making a very slight downhill into the finish. Crossing the finish line never felt so relieving.

Even though there were post-race beers available, I was content eating a popsicle, pretzels and Twizzler bites and dousing myself in as much water as possible. Shade was needed in a bad way and sitting down almost became a dangerous game of figuring out if I’d be able to get back off the ground.

It was not a pretty race for either of us, but Matt and I stayed together from start to finish and picked each other up at the right times. We had a great time chatting, catching up, telling stories and jokes we have told a hundred times and crossed the finish line despite the conditions. We finished with a time of 2:24:02 but this race wasn’t about the time on the clock; rather, it was about the good time we had hanging out on the course and over the course of the weekend.

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