This morning the 50th annual AJC Peachtree Road Race kicked off in front of Lenox Square. 60,000 runners and countless spectators, volunteers, police officers, and firefighters congregated at the start line for this 10K, the largest in the world. The temperature had risen to a balmy 75 degrees by sunrise and racers chatted, stretched, and warmed up in the now empty street.
The wheelchair races launched the event with more than 75 participants. Following invocations from a local rabbi and priest, a color guard flag ceremony, an address by Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms, and a moving rendition of the National Anthem perfectly punctuated by a flyby of three jets overhead the starting whistle was blown. In a flash Peachtree Road swelled with thousands of runners amid cheers from the crowd. The route ran through the heart of Buckhead and ended at Piedmont Park.
This year’s theme featured different decades at each mile marker with live music and vintage signage to match. At Jesus Junction families gathered on the sidewalks and the lawn to get a good view of the runners as they passed by. Some offered free high fives while others cheered and danced to the music.
The Cathedral of St. Philip’s Reverend Thee Smith and Dean of Cathedral Sam Candler were stationed nearby and blessed the runners with water as they passed. Candler started the tradition 20 years ago and it has become a beloved mainstay of the race ever since.
Racers this year were vying for more than just your standard prizes and acclaim; record breakers were offered a whopping $50,000 bounty on top of their winnings.
According to the Atlanta Track Club Twitter feed, all four records have been broken and all $200,000 in winnings will be awarded today. Rhonex Kipruto broke the men’s record with an unofficial time of 27:01, Brigid Kosgei broke the women’s record with an unofficial time of 30:22, Daniel Romanchuck broke the wheelchair race course record with 18:11, and Manuela Schar broke the women’s wheelchair race record at 21:28.