The Atlanta Journal-Constitution Peachtree Road Race, the metro’s unique annual Independence Day fitness celebration since 1970, is to me a reflection of great America. I’ve completed the 10K (6.2 mile) course from Lenox Square to Piedmont Park every year since 1978 when the American running boom com-menced. And I’ve seen this event shoot up to the maximum of 60,000 participants, which are so skillfully handled by the staff and trained volunteers of the Atlanta Track Club.
Because The Peachtree is held every July 4th, there is something characteristically American about it. Red, white and blue is one of the color themes and the race starts with a huge U.S. flag overhead. Seeing it with news helicopters above is always a thrill, making me thankful to be in my hometown Atlanta and on the greatest street in the world, Peachtree Road. (At Peachtree Palisades in Midtown the avenue become Peach-tree Street.)
The Peachtree Road Race is all-inclusive. Elite Olympic athletes lead, but other fast runners can qualify with certified race time times to be closer to the front. In 1982 the Shepherd Center Wheelchair Division was established. This race begins at 6:45 am before the 7:18 am Women’s Elite and 7:30 am main starts (staggered in waves) for rac-ers, runners, joggers and walkers. In 2004 The Peachtree inaugurated satellite races for U.S. soldiers stationed over-seas (one in Afghanistan had 3,000 participants). All finishers get coveted Peachtree T-shirts.
Earning the Peachtree T is democratically based on finishing the course and becomes a kind of trophy that often inspires others who see it to participate for the first time. There are positive things galore for participants and spectators alike in Atlanta’s celebration of Independence Day and its ideals which we all desire, perhaps most especially “the pursuit of happiness.”
-Dr. Paul Hudson