As the 52nd Atlanta Journal-Constitution Peachtree Road Race returned to the streets of Atlanta, 38-year-old Sara Hall and 36-year-old Sam Chelanga led the celebration with their first-ever victories here. Hall broke the tape in 31:41, the third-fastest time by an American woman in Peachtree history, with Chelanga winning in 28:45.
In the 40th Running of the Shepherd Center Wheelchair Division, Daniel Romanchuk won in 19:04.9, becoming the first man to win four straight since George Murray in 1982-1985. Tatyana McFadden, already the winningest elite athlete in Peachtree history, won for the eighth time, in 24:07.52.
For Hall and Chelanga, their victories also brought each the national title in the USATF 10 km Championships, which was hosted here for the fifth time since 2013. The winners in all four divisions took home a first-place prize of $7,500.
“I’m glad that I could pull off the win today. This is a race where I always run well and one I really enjoy,” said Hall, who was making her fourth appearance at the Peachtree. After finishing sixth at 10,000 meters in the punishing heat of the U.S. Olympic Trials a week ago, Hall said she appreciated the mild temperatures – 68 degrees with humidity of 72 percent at 6:30 a.m.
With about 3K to go, Emily Durgin, 27, and Hall pulled away from Annie Frisbie, with Durgin – in her debut here – pushing the pace. After attempting a few surges, Hall finally broke free with about 400 meters to go. Durgin, who finished ninth at 10,000 meters in the Trials, was runner-up in 31:50, with Frisbie third in 32:06.
Behind them, Chelanga broke the men’s race open with about a kilometer to go, shattering a large pack. Behind him were a hard-charging Fred Huxham, a previously unheralded runner out of the University of Washington, and Clayton Young, the 2021 USATF 15 km champion. They would finish second and third in 28:46 and 28:49, respectively.
Top Georgians were Cameron Bensley, 22, of Powder Springs in 32:20 and Nyah Hernandez, 19, of Canton in 37:30. The oldest finisher was long-time Atlanta Track Club stalwart Betty Lindberg, 96, who crossed the line in 2:18:29.
Bill Thorn, 90, participated in the Virtual Peachtree and finished in about 3 hours and 50 minutes, extending his streak as the only person to compete every race.
Chelanga called his win “awesome,” and the same could be said for the weekend itself, with a socially distanced Peachtree taking place over two days for the first time in its 52 years.
The return of the in-person Peachtree “means we have turned the corner in this pandemic,” said Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms, who once again participated in the race after serving as official starter. “This is so exciting and so invigorating. There are so many people out. It feels like life used to feel, so I’m very grateful to everyone who got vaccinated.”
Rich Kenah, executive director of Atlanta Track Club and race director of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution Peachtree Road Race, likened the feeling to that of the iconic photo of the Original 110 at the starting line of the first Peachtree back in 1970 – a photo he called the organization’s North Star.
“When we completed the 50th Running of the Peachtree, we planned to embark on our ‘next 110,’ said Kenah. “I can’t think of a better return to an in-person Peachtree than this weekend. We will hopefully look back on this day 50 years from now the way we look back at the Original 110 in the lore of the race and say, ‘remember that year of the two-day Peachtree?’ From the weather to the city support to the volunteers doing twice as much work to keep the Peachtree tradition alive – in an Olympic year this event deserves Olympic gold.”
Atlanta Track Club is a nonprofit committed to creating an active and healthy Atlanta. Through running and walking, Atlanta Track Club motivates, inspires and engages the community to enjoy a healthier lifestyle. With more than 30,000 members, Atlanta Track Club is the second-largest running organization in the United States. In addition to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution Peachtree Road Race (peachtreeroadrace.org), the Club puts on the Publix Atlanta Marathon, PNC Atlanta 10 Miler and Invesco QQQ Thanksgiving Day Half Marathon and almost 30 other annual events. Through the support of its members and volunteers, Atlanta Track Club also maintains a number of community initiatives, including organizing and promoting the Kilometer Kids youth running program to metro Atlanta youth, honoring high school cross country and track and field athletes through Atlanta Track Club’s All-Metro Banquets and supporting the Grady Bicycle EMT program. For more information on Atlanta Track Club, visit atlantatrackclub.org.
Atlanta Journal-Constitution Peachtree Road Race is a 10K event that traditionally takes place every Fourth of July in Atlanta, Georgia. The first Peachtree was held in 1970 and featured 110 finishers. The AJC Peachtree Road Race is traditionally the largest 10K running event in the world with 60,000 participants. The AJC Peachtree Road Race is perhaps most famous for the coveted AJC Peachtree Road Race T-shirt, which is handed out to all the event finishers. For more information on the race, visit peachtreeroadrace.org or AJC.com/peachtree.
Shepherd Center, located right along the Peachtree race course, is a private, not-for-profit hospital specializing in medical treatment, research and rehabilitation for people with spinal cord injury, brain injury, multiple sclerosis, spine and chronic pain, and other neuromuscular conditions. Founded in 1975, Shepherd Center is ranked by U.S. News & World Report among the top 10 rehabilitation hospitals in the nation. In its more than four decades, Shepherd Center has grown from a six-bed rehabilitation unit to a world-renowned, 152-bed hospital that treats more than 900 inpatients, 575 day-program patients and more than 7,100 outpatients each year.