You think of Atlanta and you think of traffic, ten-hour workdays, corporate powerhouses, and more traffic. You don’t necessarily think of running, which is a shame because Atlanta has one of the most vibrant running communities in the U.S. According to a recent study, one in four Atlantans consider themselves runners. The city has the second largest running community in the country, the largest 10K race, and a brand new marathon, which is poised to break all participation records for an inaugural race. Here’s your handy guide to all things running in the South’s biggest city.

<h4>ATLANTA RUNNING GUIDE</h4>

Veteran runner Mike Cosentino compiled this guide while training for the Western States 100. The book details safe, memorable routes over a variety of terrain throughout the metro area, from trail systems to cool neighborhood runs. Each route is easy to memorize, so you can leave the book in the car without having to worry about getting lost.
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<a href=”http://www.peachtree-online.com”>www.peachtree-online.com</a>

<h4>LOCAL YOKEL</h4>

“Trail running is just starting to grab hold in Atlanta, which has the potential to be a great trail running town. There are little pockets of trails here and there, and with each new trail I see more people out hitting the dirt.”
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<em>-Janice Anderson, president of the Georgia Ultrarunning and Trailrunning Society and 100-mile world record holder.</em>

<h4>BEST TRAIL SYSTEMS</h4>
Kennesaw Mountain National Battlefield Park:
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The best trail system in the greater Atlanta area resides OTP (outside the perimeter), but the quality of trail is worth the 20-30 minute drive. The 2,885-acre park offers 20+ miles of running trails, most of which is singletrack. The steep climbs and variety of terrain make this the go-to training ground.
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<a href=”http://www.nps.gov/kemo”>www.nps.gov/kemo</a>

Chattahoochee National Recreation Area:
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The entire NRA is comprised of 16 land units spread across 48 miles of the Chattahoochee River. Some areas have nothing more than a short nature loop while other sections feature miles of hilly singletrack. Cochran Shoals has the largest trail system with a five-mile dirt loop and 10 miles of singletrack branching off from the river. The East Palisades area (comprised of Whitewater Creek and Indian Trail) also has several miles of singletrack inside the perimeter.
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<a href=”http://www.nps.gov/chatt”>www.nps.gov/chatt</a>

Sweetwater Creek State Park:
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Nine miles of loops and out and backs reside in this 2,000-acre park. “It’s one of the best trail systems on the East coast,” says Jeff Campbell, Atlanta resident and former U.S. National Team runner. The trails at Sweetwater climb ridgelines, parallel Sweetwater’s rapids, and meander past an 1840’s textile mill.

<h4>BEST ROAD ROUTES</h4>

Piedmont Park:
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For the quintessential downtown park vibe, Piedmont is a runner’s dream. More than four miles of paved paths crisscross the park as skyscrapers grace the backdrop. Connect 10th Street and Peachtree Street, to get a feel for what the 55,000 Peachtree Road Race participants experience every year.
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<a href=”http://www.piedmontpark.org”>www.piedmontpark.org</a>

Brookhaven Neighborhood:
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You’ve got to love a running route with a Dunkin Donuts featured in the mix. A popular three-mile loop surrounds the Capital City Country Club boasting safe streets, picturesque mansions, and non-existent traffic. And did we mention the Dunkin Donuts?

Freedom Parkway Trail:
<br />Six miles of paved greenway extend from downtown Atlanta into the city’s most up and coming neighborhoods. The terrain is rolling, the view is skyscraper heavy, and the historical landmarks are noteworthy. You’ll pass the Jimmy Carter Center, the Martin Luther King Center, as well as Atlanta’s hippy-haven-Little Five Points.
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<a href=”http://www.atlantatrackclub.org”>www.atlantatrackclub.org</a>

<h4>TOP RACES</h4>

Peachtree Road Race:
<br />10K, July 4. Can 55,000 runners be wrong? It’s the biggest 10K in the world, taking runners through the heart of Midtown Atlanta. More than 70,000 applicants vie for a spot in the Peachtree.
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<a href=”http://www.atlantatrackclub.org”>www.atlantatrackclub.org</a>

ING Georgia Marathon:
<br />26.2 miles, March 25. The ING Georgia Marathon already has 13,000 registered runners at press time and is expected to sell out all 15,000 slots-huge numbers for an inaugural race. The course starts and finishes at Underground Atlanta, taking runners on a tour of Atlanta’s hottest historic and cultural landmarks.
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<a href=”http://www.georgiamarathon.com”>www.georgiamarathon.com</a>

Sweetwater 50K and Half Marathon:
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50K/13.1 miles, April 14. This inaugural event will consist of two or more loops of Sweetwater’s singletrack, giving Atlanta’s growing ultra-running community an opportunity to run their guts out close to home.
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<a href=”http://www.getguts.com”>www.getguts.com</a>

Big Peach Running Company Trail Series:
<br />Various distances and dates. Four different races, four different locations: Think of this race series as a guided tour of the best trail running Atlanta has to offer.
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<a href=”http://www.bigpeachrunningco.com”>www.bigpeachrunningco.com</a>

<h4>RUNNING CLUBS</h4>

Atlanta Track Club:
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Part running club, part political heavy hitter, the ATC stages races (including the Peachtree Road Race), offers social outings, and represents the city’s runners when dealing with the government.

Atlanta Hash House Harriers:
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Nobody combines drinking with running better than the Atlanta Hash House Harriers. The midtown-based group offers a hash every week and has chapters all over Georgia.
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<a href=”http://www.atlantahash.com”>www.atlantahash.com</a>

Georgia Ultrarunning and Trailrunning Society:
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All things dirt begin and end with the Georgia Ultrarunning and Trailrunning Society. Weekly trail runs, free lectures, and the best dirt races in A-town.
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<a href=”http://www.getguts.com”>www.getguts.com</a>