A Conversation With God on Surviving the Peachtree Road Race

A coach at Holy Innocents' in Sandy Springs banters with God on making it through the annual run. God reminds Neugebauer how he passed a kidney stone the last time he ran the race.


With the Peachtree Road Race just around the corner, I've had a major issue while training: who to run it with. Being a divorcee, with best friends out of the country, and with my fellow schoolteachers spread across the states over the summer, the training has been arduous, boring, and not to mention - hot. Point being, just last night while in a deep slumber, I dreamt of perhaps the perfect partner – and I mean THE perfect partner to run the 6.2 miles with. Why didn’t I think of this before?

Me: Hey God, will you run the Peachtree Road Race with me next week?

God: No I most certainly will not.

Why not?

I don’t have a number.

You mean God has to have a number before he can run the Peachtree?

Of course, the Atlanta Track Club has made that very clear. I’m surprised you didn’t know this after all these years. After all, the race has been going on since 1970.

That’s actually accurate, I think.

It is according to an old article that appeared in a local paper one summer. It said the race started in 1970 with 110 runners and Jeff Galloway, who went on to be an Olympian in 1972, won the race. He ran in Munich with your other hero – Steve Prefontaine.

Hey, I wrote that article!

Oh dear, never mind. It’s probably not accurate in that case. Just forget I said anything.

Do I get points for being close? Anyway, come run with me! I’d love to have God at my side while we cruise down Peachtree Street towards downtown Atlanta! You would simply LOVE all the energy around you while slogging down the streets. Besides, I bet you’re pretty fast!

I might tag along or maybe run it as a bandit, though I don’t want to get myself in any trouble down there. I don’t want to get arrested, have a police record and perhaps have to do some community service.

God getting arrested and doing community service? Couldn’t you just tell them who you are?

Yes, and that would make them add more time to my sentence! People will think I’m being a smart aleck – especially when I show them my I.D. I mean, it simply reads ‘God’. After all, do I need a title or a telephone extension?

After all these years you people have been begging me to make an appearance and what will that probably get me: jail time and community service! Maybe cleaning up after the Peachtree will be my service; that should take hours after hours with all the people that show up for that thing!

I don’t think the Atlanta Track Club will have you arrested; they’ll have more pressing matters on race day. I should’ve shot you a notice when I signed up in March when the entries came out in the local paper but, of course, I forgot.

That’s okay – I probably wouldn’t have heard you anyway. I’m busy in March with every college basketball fan and player sending me signs, shooting their fists at me and begging me to help them throw that silly orange ball through the hoop. You humans really are amazing.

Do you have an issue with basketbal

Not with the game, but what is it with you people and deadlines? I mean, why does March Madness not end until April? What’s up with that? And do you realize that, right now, it’s late June and the NBA just got finished last week?

Who won

Who cares? It’s summer! People are vacationing! Something about watching an NBA game while sitting poolside or at the beach just doesn’t go together. And it shouldn’t! What is it about timetables you people don’t understand?

I’m even thinking about sending down this memo I just finished writing:

After the taxes are done on April 15th, I will NOT – I repeat will NOT – be taking any more basketball requests. Turn in your uniforms and go play something warm. For any questions or concerns, my basketball office will reopen this October 1st – and not a day before. Have a nice day.

Love always,


I like your writing style, God. You are very straight and to the point. I wish you would’ve written some of those books I had to read in high school. It seems writers back in the day actually got paid by the word and man did it ever show!

Leave writers alone… most of them have suffered quite enough! And look who I’m telling. 

Good point but can we get back to running the Peachtree?

Sure, what do you want to know?

I think it’d be a hoot-and-a-half if you’d run it with me. I’m curious: What kind of pace does God run? What kind of shoes? Are you a Nike man? How about Asics, New Balance, Brooks, Mizuno—which one? Besides, with you at my side, I feel we could win it!

Not a chance! I don’t even think God can keep up with some of those runners, no matter what kind of shoes I wear. I’d have to train!

Interesting—even God can’t run a sub-30-minute 10K. Now I don’t feel so bad.

I don’t think my 10K personal record is anything anyone should be concerned with. No one cares about stuff like that except for you. Here you have my full attention and the only thing you want to know is how fast I can run the Peachtree? Now what’s your issue with this race?

I’m just not real sure I want to run it by myself.

Did you say by yourself? There’s going to be, like, 80,000 people out there; well more than that if you count the bandits and the crowd! What exactly is alone about that?

Wow, even God says “like” – boy the high schoolkids are going to love this! You know what I mean, though, I’d like to have someone keeping pace with me, maybe reading me my splits and telling me to speed up or slow down.

I promise you I’ll send down all kinds of characters you can run with. There will be one or two dressed like Uncle Sam; many with their faces and bodies painted the sacred red, white and blue. Some will run in tuxedos, others shirtless and a few scantily clad. To say the least, the entire event will be sensory overload times twelve!

Still, it’s not often I could actually run a race… with God!

Once again I say, and once again you don’t or won’t believe me, you are not alone! And as for my advice on the race itself: watch out for Mile #5.

You mean Mile #4: That’s Cardiac Hill.

And that’s precisely why I’m telling you to watch out for Mile #5! You see, everybody knows what Cardiac Hill is; most do anyway. People get geared up for it, their adrenaline is pumping and—for the most part—they do a better than ample job about getting up it. The problem is, there is a small hill on Mile #5 – that’s the one that gets a lot of people. You yourself actually passed a kidney stone at that point the last time you— we’ll use the term ‘ran’—the race.

If it’s a small hill, what’s the problem?

Because runners make the mistake of letting their guard down after getting up the big hill on Mile #4! Don’t do that! Stay pumped up. You can relax towards the end. Look at the course as a mini replica of the Boston Marathon. Perhaps that will help you.


Okay, tell the readers what happened to you the first time you ran Boston.

I was so excited to have finally qualified; to have finally gotten there! Do you want me to share all of my adventures of the five marathons it actually took for me to get there?

No, even God doesn’t want to know about that and I consider myself VERY open-minded.

Sorry. As for the race, I rocked it—ran a personal record even.

Great, now quit bragging and tell them what I’m asking for.

Well, most if not the entire first half is down hill and then you start back up. Sort of like the Peachtree as you said. That part was okay and then I cruised up Heartbreak Hill! Why, I didn’t even know that’s what it was until I got to the top of it. I asked the runner next to me if that was it and he let out a cussing streak a mile long. The gist of what he said was: Yes that was Heartbreak Hill.

Continue; what happened after that?

I relaxed—planned on cruising through the last five miles.

And? You’re still avoiding the issue.

Then when I hit the hills on the last few miles, they dang near killed me!

Because you relaxed; your guard was down. You weren’t mentally prepared. That’s why I’m telling you what I’m telling you. Just remember that this time, on Mile #5.

Anything else?

Don’t forget your MARTA pass, though you might want to delay a little bit before getting on a train.

Why is that?

Why? Thousands of runners packed like sardines after running on a hot, summer’s day in July in one car and you’re asking why? Do you remember what your dad’s socks smelled like?

That bad, huh?

No, nothing’s that bad. Still, you might want to wait awhile, either that or take a taxi back up.

Where should I park my car?

In Atlanta? On a holiday? Parking in that city is bad enough on a regular Monday-through-Friday. How do you expect me to know where to park on a major holiday with a million people around? 


Okay, okay—Brookhaven it is!

While we’re at it, watch your diet not just the night before but the week before!

What’s wrong with my diet?

I’m sorry but the four major food groups are NOT sodas, candy bars, pizza and chips/ salsa! This does not work!

It got me through high school and college.

How old were you then? How old did you say you were now? How old would you like to grow to be? And don’t forget to hydrate for Me’s sakes!

Okay. Diet–check. Parking–check. MARTA pass–check. Mile #5– check. How about sleeping arrangements? I’ve often slept at a friend’s house closer to the course just where I can sleep in a little more. Problem is, I can never sleep the night before and I can rarely sleep in a strange bed. What’s the big word from God on this?

They say the best night for good sleep is two nights before the race, though I’m still not really sure who “they” are. As for sleeping in a strange house, pack your pillowcase

Did you say pillowcase? What on earth for?

Because it smells like your sleeping arrangements at home and it’s easy to pack! You don’t need to bring your whole bed over.

 Just bring your pillowcase and put it over the pillow. The smell will remind you of home – hence – better sleep. 

God, that almost makes good sense!

As you would say, thanks I think.

It’s too bad you won’t run it with me. I was looking forward to having your company. Still, I can understand you shying away and everything. I mean, not being able to run a sub-30-minute 10K and also, why would God want to get beat by a 52-year-old man? Just so you know, I completely understand.

Hold the phone, I’ll be right back.

Are you leaving me?

Yes, for the first time ever, I am temporarily leaving you!

Why? Wait? Come back? Where are you going? You said you’d never leave me and I’d never be alone! Wait!

I’m going to scrounge up a number for the Peachtree!

You mean you’re going to let little old me trash talk you into running the Peachtree? You actually let me get to you?

Don’t flatter yourself! I’m not studying you; I just want the T-shirt!

Adrianne Murchison (Editor) July 02, 2012 at 02:26 PM
God has gotten me through a few marathons. Keep talkin' to Him! And Happy running to everyone in the race!


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