(19-Jan) -- What is usually the nation's largest 10-K with over 60,000 finishers, the AJC Peachtree Road Race in Atlanta is planned as a smaller, two-day event for July 3 and 4, Atlanta Track Club (ATC) officials announced today. Safety is the top priority, officials said, not the size of the race.
PHOTO: Bernard Lagat after winning the 2018 AJC Peachtree Road Race and the USA 10-K road running title (photo courtesy of USATF)
"This year, the AJC Peachtree Road Race may not be the world's largest 10-K," said ATC executive director Rich Kenah through a media release. "Our top priority is for the Peachtree to be the world's safest 10-K."
That will be no small feat. Large, mass-participation running events like the Peachtree have all but shut down since the pandemic hit the United States in mid-March last year. All of the nation's biggest and most famous road races --the Boston Marathon, Bank of America Chicago Marathon, Bolder Boulder 10-K, and TCS New York City Marathon, etc.-- were cancelled in 2020, or held as virtual events where participants ran on their own close to home.
In 2020 the Peachtree was first postponed from its traditional July 4, date to Thanksgiving Day, but was later cancelled as an in-person event and held virtually, instead.
To make the 2021 race possible, ATC officials will employ a wave start system, limit the size of the field, extend the amount of time runners can be on the course (to increase physical spacing), mandate face coverings both before and after competing, and use self-serve hydration stations to limit person-to-person contact. Runners who don't feel comfortable attending the race will also have the option to participate virtually.
"As planning continues, we will remain in constant communication with our medical team and the city of Atlanta to ensure all in attendance feel confident that their 4th of July celebration was both memorable and responsible," Kenah added.
A COVID-19 task force has been set up by the ATC and is led by Dr. Jonathan Kim, co-medical director of the race. The task force will regularly meet to assess current conditions and adjust event mitigation efforts, accordingly.
Also, the race will have an elite field this year with prize money for USA runners, only. There will also be an elite wheelchair race, one of the Peachtree's great traditions, supported by the Shepherd Center. The race will be broadcast live on Atlanta's NBC affiliate, WXIA-TV, 11Alive.
Registration for the event opens March 15, and will remain open until at least May 1. Runners may indicate whether they prefer to run on the 3rd (Saturday) or the 4th (Sunday).