ATLANTA—In his 19th year as course director of the AJC Peachtree Road Race, the last thing Jack Abbott wants to see is 60,000 race participants dodging road hazards.
No matter the time of year, when Abbott drives Peachtree Street, it's the Fourth of July.
“I'm always looking,” says Abbott. “A couple of weeks ago there was a massive amount of metal plates in front of Piedmont Hospital. One day, they disappeared, and I was happy again.”
Three months ago, Abbott handed the city of Atlanta a list of 40 issues that included everything from potholes and plates to low manhole covers. He looks for anything that could trip a runner or wheelchair.
The city’s department of public works whittled that list down to 10 issues by the time Abbott and 11Alive’s Commuter Dude took a tour of Peachtree. Just a few days before the big race, Abbott’s biggest concern the week before the race was a single metal plate lingering near Cardiac Hill.
By July 3rd, the plate was gone.
11Alive has followed Jack Abbott over the years. The course director of the nation's largest 10K run has worked through rain and a slick Peachtree Street. There was the year when a collapsed building blocked two lanes of Peachtree until just days before the race.
This year’s biggest concern was a plan to begin a MAJOR repaving of Peachtree beginning before the 4th of July. The work wasn’t going to wrap up until after the race. GDOT decided to delay it all.
“We wanted to make sure the course was in the best condition possible,” says GDOT’s Natalie Dale.
“We didn't want anything to go wrong that would effect one of our city's most beloved traditions.”
Jack Abbott dodged that bullet.
“Things are going along pretty well,” says Abbott.
And that means things should go well for the 60,000 competitors in this year’s race.