Event Records Fall as AJC Peachtree Road Race Celebrates 50th Running
ATLANTA - July 4, 2019 - The 50th Running of the AJC Peachtree Road Race re-wrote the event's history books with four brand new event records and the fastest 10K ever run on U.S. soil. Behind the greatest athletes in the world, 60,000 participants streamed across the line at Piedmont Park, sweaty and smiling and celebrating half a century of Atlanta's Fourth of July tradition.
$200,000 in event record bonus prize money was up for grabs and today's winners took it all with the men's and women' winners in both the footrace and the Shepherd Center Wheelchair division setting all-time bests at the Peachtree.
In the women's footrace, Kenya's Brigid Kosgei outlasted Agnes Tirop and Fancy Chemutai in an epic sprint to the finish, crossing the line in 30:21 to break the previously-held record of 30:32.
"I want to say thank you to the people who were cheering us all the way," Kosgei said. "They say 'try, try, try' and I was so happy for these people. I hope to come again next year to make a record again."
The men's footrace featured Kenyan Rhonex Kipruto chasing perhaps the most untouchable record of all - 27:04, set by compatriot Joseph Kimani in 1996. That time was not only the event record but the fastest 10K ever run in the United States. Until now. Kirputo, the 19-year-old phenom, delivered in spades, running alone for nearly the entire race and covering the course from Lenox Square to the park in 27:01.
"I am happy for the win today," said Kipruto. "When I was coming here I was coming for a course record and I thank God for that."
Both records also went down in the Shepherd Center wheelchair divisions. The women's wheelchair race was another battle to the finish, as Switzerland's Manuela Schar crossed just ahead of Tatyana McFadden and Susannah Scaroni to take the women's title in 21:28 - 31 seconds ahead of the previous record of 22:09.
"It's amazing," Schar said. "I was just happy to win it because it was such a tough race. To get that bonus is just huge."
On the men's side, Daniel Romanchuk completed his three-peat at the Peachtree and took the event record that narrowly evaded him last year. He crossed the line in 18:11, shattering the previously-held event record of 18:38.
"It still hasn't entirely sunk in yet," Romanchuk said. "It was a fast day and a great field. I was just sprinting all the way to go as fast as I could - It was a very strong record so I knew it had to be an all-out record. To have an equal payout for the record bonus, I'm lacking the words to describe it."
The $50,000 bonus is the largest single payday in the history of elite wheelchair racing.
Emily Sisson (Scottsdale, AZ) and Colin Bennie (Charlottesville, VA), were the top American finishers, running 32:03 and 29:11, respectively.
Atlanta Track Club's Wilkerson Given and Janel Blancett went home with the Top Georgian honors, as Given crossed in 30:12 and Blancett finished in 36:03.
About an hour after the dramatics of the elite races came to a finish, notable Atlantans from across the years began to make their way across the 10th St. finish line. First, author Emily Giffin was revealed as the winner of the Peachtree's T-shirt contest, with her design, titled "Lucky Bib," unveiled as the chosen design to the race's 60,000 participants. Created in collaboration with Atlanta Track Club member Tina Tait, the design was part of a special competition ahead of this year's race, with submissions curated by notable Atlantans and Atlanta institutions.
"Honestly, that was the highlight of my life," said Giffin, an Atlanta Track Club member who ran the race with her daughter, Harriet, while her sons and husband raced ahead. "It's more than winning a contest - It's the fact that this is my family's passion. The Atlanta Track Club means so much to us and so it's symbolic of what we do as a family."
Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms served as an official starter at Lenox Square, as she kicked off the race then walked the course with her staff for the second straight year.
"I was born in 1970, so to think that this race started seven months after I was born and that now I get to kick it off as Mayor it really is a dream come true for me and speaks to what's possible in our city," she said. "[The Peachtree just speaks to Atlanta and the diversity that we have in this city. I'm grateful to Atlanta Track Club, our sanitation workers, our public safety personnel, and the Department of Public Works for making this race beautiful and clean and safe for all of us."
For the 50th straight July 4, Bill Thorn crossed the Peachtree's finish line, as he continued his streak as the only member of the Original 110 finishers to complete every edition of the race. Walking alongside his friends, family, and former Atlanta Track Club Executive Director Julia Emmons, Thorn was ecstatic to have finished the Peachtree yet again.
"It could've been just a fad," said Thorn of his early Peachtree streak. "But as you go along through the years, people like Julia say to me every once in a while to keep going and that was really encouraging, and so it just became a year after year thing. Who ever would have imagined that little tiny group would have turned into this?"
"Atlanta Track Club, its members and volunteers wanted to make the 50th Running of the Peachtree into an unforgettable celebration of the history and legacy of this race," said Rich Kenah, Race Director of the AJC Peachtree Road Race and Executive Director of Atlanta Track Club. "And Running City USA delivered. This is a day that Atlanta will remember for years to come."