I had the honor of returning to Atlanta, GA for the 50th anniversary of the iconic Peachtree Road Race on July 4th, 2019.
Forty-nine years ago I traveled to Atlanta from Greenville, SC, where I was a student at Furman University, to run in the first Peachtree Road Race. Dr. Tim Singleton organized the event, which was run from the old Sears parking lot on Peachtree to downtown Atlanta (uphill most of the way). With a starting time of 9:30 am (and actual start a little later due to day of race registrations) it was a hot trot on one of Atlanta major roadways.
After attempting to run just behind future Olympian (1972) Jeff Galloway for the first mile or so, I had to let him and Georgia Tech's Joel Majors go and became content to remain in third place until the finish. The times were slow, due to the July heat and humidity and the challenging route.
For the 50th anniversary, the Atlanta Track Club generously invited me and the others from the "Original 110" finishers back to celebrate this milestone edition. The 2019 race had 60,660 finishers and is the largest fully-timed race in the United States.
It was great to see about 40 of those "Original 110" finishers at the Tuesday morning press conference and reception hosted by the Atlanta Track Club. Many thanks to Rich Kennah (ATC executive director and race director) and Janet Monk (who organized the "Original 110" communications and gathering).
Although I run daily, I do not race anymore and prefer coaching our ASICS Greenville Track Club-ELITE athletes now. However, I couldn't pass up the opportunity to run down Peachtree on the 50th anniversary. I enjoyed the amazing crowds of spectators lining the course, the various bands representing the 70s, 80, 90s, etc., and especially spotting and crossing the finish line on 10th Street. I finished 6,368th this time (almost in the top 10%) in a pretty slow time of 55:30. However, I was pleased and honored to cross the Peachtree finish line once again.
As an interesting side note: I ran the 1970 P'tree in a pair of Tiger (now rebranded as ASICS) Marathons and ran the 50th edition of the race in ASICS DS-Trainer 24s.
Mike Caldwell is the Director and one of the coaches for ASICS Greenville Track Club-ELITE. For more on Mike please visit his page on this website.