Atlanta celebrates Fourth of July with Peachtree Road Race

2014 Peachtree Road Race
2014 Peachtree Road Race (Photo by Todd DeFeo)

ATLANTA, July 4, 2014 — To this city, the Peachtree Road Race is as quintessentially Fourth of July as BBQs and fireworks.

The annual running of The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, the world’s largest 10K, attracts more than 60,000 participants and at least twice as many spectators. Runners, joggers and walkers replace cars along one of the city’s busiest thoroughfares, the venerable Peachtree Street.

The event feels more like an outdoor party than a road race, and that’s the charm for so many. Vendors line the streets and give out tchotkes, beer flows freely along the route and some don ridiculous outfits, all in the name of fun.

Sure, there are many who take this race seriously and want to clock a solid time. But, there are just as many, and probably more, who want to step out into Atlanta’s famous summer heat — and one of the reasons the city is aptly nicknamed Hotlanta — to participate in a true Atlanta tradition.

This year’s race, however, was cooler compared to previous years.

The event kicks off with the always inspiring wheelchair race. Elite runners follow, and the race’s more casual participants bring up the rear and provide much of the comic relief for which the race is known.

To be sure, the elite runners have wrapped up their portion of the race long before the majority of runners pass the start line and probably before many even arrive to start their fun in the sun.

The inaugural running of the now-famous race was July 4, 1970, when 110 runners met up in the parking lot of the old Sears building at the corner of Peachtree and Roswell roads. The group ran 6.2 miles to Central City Park.

Of course, for many the most exciting part of the race is the free T-shirt. First given out to participants in 1971, the design changes from year to year and is a closely guarded secret until the first racers cross the finish line.

For the record, the winners of this year’s event were:

  • Men’s winner: Christo Landry, 28:25
  • Women’s winner: Amy Hastings, 32:16
  • Men’s wheelchair: Krige Schabort, 20:30
  • Women’s wheelchair: Tatyana McFadden, 24:18

In addition to the general tomfoolery of the day, the race spawns dozens of touching storylines. One storyline this year centered on Boston Marathon winner Meb Keflezighi, who started at the back of the pack and sought to pass as many participants as possible in support of Kilometer Kids, the Atlanta Track Club’s youth running program.

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