2024 Publix Atlanta Marathon Female by Casey Sykes

Almost 10,000 Take to the Streets on Publix Atlanta Marathon Weekend

Former Georgia High School Track Star Among Sunday’s Winners

ATLANTA — Feb. 25, 2024 —A pair of high school coaches, a world-class ultramarathoner and a former Georgia state high school track champion were among the winners of Sunday’s Publix Atlanta Marathon and Half Marathon, which saw almost 6,000 participants cross the finish line on a crisp, sunny day at The Home Depot Backyard.

Altogether, more than 10,000 runners and walkers of all ages participated in Publix Atlanta Marathon Weekend events, which included the Publix Atlanta 5K, Publix Atlanta Kids Marathon and USATF Masters 5 km Championships on Saturday.

In the marathon, Robert Pederson Jr. 25, was the first to cross, in 2:28:58. Coming from Santa Rosa, CA, to visit a friend here, the coach at Montgomery High School chose Running City USA for his 10th marathon. It was his first victory at the distance.

Asked if his win would give him more “cred” with his athletes, Pederson laughed. “I hope so,” he said. “But seriously, I hope the kids find some inspiration in it.”

Winning for the women was 41-year-old Michele Yates, from Conifer, CO. Yates is a four-time USATF National Team member in mountain and trail running who has represented Team USA in the World Championships. She said this was her first “real” marathon in 15 years and one of her few races in the past 5 years after dealing with health issues that included surgery on both hips.

“I’m just very grateful to be here,” she said. Showing impressive range, Yates finished fourth in Saturday’s USATF Masters 5 km Championships.

Runner-up in the men’s marathon was Aaron Spak, 27, of Northbrook, IL (2:33:40), with Samuel Stresemann, 24, of Atlanta third (2:35:18). For the women, runner-up Sarah Sims-McGrath, 26, of Atlanta, actually ran a “net time” (3:01:24) 17 seconds faster than Yates after starting the race farther back in the pack; however, official winners are determined on “gun time.” Third was Josie Wirtz, 24, of Brookhaven (3:02:18).

Winning the first-ever Publix Atlanta Marathon Relay was Team George Darden, in 2:40:15.

In the half marathon, the men’s winner was Tim Seeley, 39, of Duluth, GA, in 1:10:32, with some of his athletes from Lambert High School in Forsyth County cheering him on.

“They keep me young,” he joked after breaking the tape. He could just as well have been referring to his three daughters, ages 9, 8 and 6, greeting him at the finish line. The chilly temperatures – 31 degrees as the sun rose at the start – were just as welcome.

“I’m a transplant from Philadelphia three years ago,” he said. “This is right up my alley.”

The half marathon’s women’s winner also has a strong Georgia high school connection: Dylan Hassett, 30, was a two-time GHSA 6A champion at 3,200 meters for Alpharetta High School and is a former Atlanta Track Club All-Metro athlete. On Sunday, Hassett won in 1:13:14, almost six minutes ahead of the runner-up in a time that was bettered by only four men on the day.

“It feels good,” she said of her victory. “I feel grown up.”

Just finishing graduate school in Rhode Island to become a physician’s assistant, Hassett – who ran in the 2016 U.S. Olympic Marathon Trials – said she hasn’t competed in the last few years as she focused on her studies.

“As I’m getting back into the racing world, this was a nice rust-buster,” she said.

Finishing second and third for the men were Justin Iler, 21, of Broadview Heights, OH (1:11:12) and Zachary Israel, 25, of Nashville (1:11:59). For the women, the runner-up was April Lund, the 41-year-old from Bismarck, N.D. who won Saturday’s USATF Masters 5 km Championships here (1:19:10), while Astrid Peregord, 33, of Montreal was third (1:21:44).

The non-binary division was won by Russell Pelchat, 38, of Adairsville, GA, while the push-assist division was won by Cougar Clifford, 25, as part of the Kyle Pease Foundation team of athletes. First in the inaugural 2nd Half Marathon, in which participants opted to compete on the second half of the marathon course, were Dan McCarthy, 39, of Atlanta (1:26:57) and Courtney Naser, 28, of Atlanta (1:33:45).

No less triumphant was 60-year-old Carol Mulderink, who completed her 100th half marathon, in 2:18:13. She ran her first, the Runner’s Edge Half Marathon in Chicago, in 1999 alongside her husband, Matt, who crossed the line with her again in her milestone race.

Mulderink recently relocated to Asheville, N.C., after living in Atlanta for 20 years.

Said Mulderink from a post-race party with about 20 friends and family: “It’s a celebration of my passion for the sport, of the joy of running.” She added: It’s nice to hit the milestone, but it doesn’t mean I’m retired.”

Photo by Casey Sykes

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