How Atlanta races honor military veterans

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How Atlanta races honor military veterans

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HYOSUB SHIN / AJC
David Seymour with Team Army wins Kilometer Kids Charity Chase during the AJC Peachtree Road Race on Saturday, July 4, 2015. Kilometer Kids Charity Chase will feature six teams: Team Air Force, Team Army, Team Coast Guard, Team Marine Corps, Team National Guard and Team Navy. HYOSUB SHIN / HSHIN@AJC.COM

Men and women serving in America's armed forces will still get a chance to celebrate Independence Day the way many Atlantans do: By running in the AJC Peachtree Road Race.

The race coordinates special opportunities for military men and women, including satellite races that provide the same shirts and race numbers as for the runners here, according to Atlanta Track Club Executive Director Rich Kenah. The club does the same thing for its Publix Georgia Marathon & Half-Marathon, he said. ATC satellite races include nearly 2,000 runners at six military bases, said Jay Holder, director of marketing and communications for the club.

"We are proud to continue the tradition of hosting a military race at the AJC Peachtree Road Race,” Holder said.  “We work closely with United Military Care to set up a competition at the Peachtree between seven branches of the military, each consisting of six runners. We also offer overseas races at military installations so runners and walkers can take part in this event as they bravely defend our country around the world."

But the track club is not alone: Many race organizers across the country find ways to include military participation — what Phil Stewart, Road Race Management editor and publisher, calls a "win-win."

“Running events can provide men and women who have served America, many times in the line of fire, with a homecoming on the streets of their towns and cities, while giving race participants a very public opportunity to express appreciation for the members of the military's service and sacrifice," he said.

“Running events also provide support and a mainstream experience for veterans who are wounded in the line of duty,” Stewart said. “These wounded warriors are always inspirational.”

What's more, the AJC PRR will feature a same-day supporting event during its July 4 race: the Kilometer Kids Charity Chase, which will include runners from multiple branches of the military, including the Army, Coast Guard and Marine Corps.

“Seeing military members along the course of any road race is no doubt inspiring,” Kenah said. “They not only serve and protect, but are great examples of health and fitness.”

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