Atlanta’s Olympic Cauldron to be lit this weekend for first time since 1996

Credit: AJC

As Atlanta prepares to hold the Olympic marathon trials, here are some things to know ahead of the event.

The Olympic marathon trials in Atlanta are going to be lit this weekend — literally.

For the first time since 1996 Games, the Olympic Cauldron will be lit this weekend during the race that will determine the three women and three men to represent the United States in the 2020 games in Tokyo.

It has been nearly 24 years since Muhammad Ali famously lit the cauldron, which is at the intersection of Capitol Avenue and Fulton Street.

Georgia State University, which has owned the property in Atlanta’s Summerhill neighborhood, since 2017 will light the cauldron at noon on Saturday. It will remain lit until the end of the race at approximately 3:30 p.m.

Muhammad Ali lit the cauldron at the opening ceremonies for the 1996 Olympic Games in Atlanta. (Andy Clark / Reuters)

Credit: Andy Clark

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Credit: Andy Clark

The field of hundreds of elite athletes will start and finish the race downtown in Centennial Olympic Park. After leaving the start line, the course heads north, looping through Midtown. Eventually, the athletes will make their way to Summerhill, where they will pass under the Olympic rings and torch, before heading back to downtown.

"Highlighting Atlanta's Olympic history and legacy, the course for the U.S. Olympic Team Trials - Marathon will take athletes on a tour of some of Atlanta's most important attractions and neighborhoods," according to the Atlanta Track Club.

The cauldron was originally designed by Siah Armajani, who was selected from a group of 30 artists, according to the Track Club.

In order to participate in the trial, athletes had to run a qualifying marathon between Sept. 1, 2017, and Jan. 19, 2020. For men, the qualifying time was between 2:15:00 and 2:19:00. For women, it was between 2:37:00 and 2:45:00.

NBC will broadcast the race beginning at noon, but for Atlantans who want to go out and see it live, spectator information can be found here. For visitors coming in from out of town, there is information on navigating MARTA, where to stay and what to do in Atlanta available here.

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