2022 Peachtree Road Race: Why I run

July 4, 2021 Atlanta - Betty Lindberg, 96, crosses the finish line during the second day of 2021 Atlanta Journal-Constitution Peachtree Road Race on Sunday, July 4, 2021. (Hyosub Shin / Hyosub.Shin@ajc.com)

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July 4, 2021 Atlanta - Betty Lindberg, 96, crosses the finish line during the second day of 2021 Atlanta Journal-Constitution Peachtree Road Race on Sunday, July 4, 2021. (Hyosub Shin / Hyosub.Shin@ajc.com)

For some, it’s tradition; others see it as a milestone

For more than 50 years, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution Peachtree Road Race has been the city’s signature running event. And the Peachtree’s 10K distance ensures that this race is for everyone, from elite world-class runners to people running their first-ever event. And that inclusivity is what has made the AJC Peachtree Road Race the largest 10K event in the world.

The Atlanta Track Club expects nearly 60,000 in-person runners from around the world to take part in the race on July 4. And this year, after virtual and hybrid races during the pandemic, the course will once again start at Lenox Square and end at Piedmont Park, with plenty of excitement and energy along the way.

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Of course, there’s still a virtual option where participants can map out their own 6.2-mile route. Registration for the virtual run is open through May 31. You can sign up here.

The Atlanta Track Club asked runners to share why they’re participating and what motivates them to run. Here are some of their responses:

Some responses have been edited for length and clarity.

Keith Claycomb

My wife and I had always wanted to run the Peachtree together. But we were afraid that we would not get bibs in the lottery at the same time. In 2015, we took a gamble and entered the lottery. We had been married for 15 years, so what better way to celebrate than running the Peachtree?

As luck would have it, my wife got a bib and I didn’t. We really did not know what the next set was to do in this process. I had heard that 11Alive had a contest for a bib to the Peachtree. ‘What the heck,’ I thought, ‘Whats the worse that could happen?’ One morning as I was leaving for work, my neighbor texted me stating that I had won the contest for the bib. My wife and I could not believe it. We were going to run the race together.

Looking back, we laugh at how this all started. After our first race, we became track club members, and haven’t missed a Peachtree since. It is just not the 4th of July without the Peachtree.

Randy Coryell

2022 will be a return to the race from a 30 year hiatus. I was a long-term business owner in Atlanta and one of the developers of Park Tavern, then The Mill. Left sports after numerous injuries, both knees replaced and 3 time cancer survivor.

Eighteen months ago, I joined USA Triathlon and began training. Grateful to be alive (thanks, Mayo Clinic!) and to have the opportunity and pleasure to run with my daughter on July 4. Many wonderful memories to recall. But I think the best is a few short months away.

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Raquel Lett-Anderson

The Peachtree Road race is a part of my self-care plan. I often denied myself many pleasures over the years to take care of my family. I will be turning 55 years old in August, so I wanted to challenge myself in four areas of personal development: finances, health & fitness, faith and volunteerism. Preparing for and running in the Peachtree Road Race will break barriers in my mindset and is pushing me closer to my goal of winning a gold medal as a senior Olympic athlete in 2023. This is my L.E.A.P. Year - Live Expecting All Possibilities!

William M. Blount

I was born and raised in Atlanta. I rode my bike two miles each way on Peachtree Street to and from R.L. Hope or I took the trolley. I’d buy a copy of The Atlanta Constitution to use for my current events presentation in 5th grade.

I started running in 1975 at the age of 24 to get in shape to be a forest fire fighter in New Mexico. I wandered away from Atlanta. I survived two broken hips and had them pinned with titanium nails. Then I survived — five years so far — prostate cancer. I run virtually because my friends and family mostly leave on the Fourth, so I return when I get to see them. Running is the only sport I’m close to competent in and it’s saved my life many times. Thank you, Peachtree!

James “Frankie” DeFore III

July is a month of rebirth for me. On July 13, 2020, I went into cardiogenic shock at the age of 34. I was in end-stage heart failure. My heart ejection fraction was just 5% (normal is 50% or greater). My family was called in to tell me goodbye. However, I was stabilized enough to be life flighted to Piedmont Atlanta Hospital and it was here that I was reborn. I received an LVAD (left ventricular assist device — a heart pump) on July 31, 2020. The surgeons were not sure if I would survive the surgery. While my life hung in the balance, I had to go through it alone because no visitors were allowed at Piedmont due to the pandemic.

After a long, difficult stay in ICU with multiple surgeries and procedures and more time spent on a ventilator than off of one, I was finally able to go home with my sister on September 3, 2020. I had to use a wheelchair and walker, and I needed 24 hour care in the beginning. I gradually gained up to my normal weight and improved my strength. My heart function was also improving. Miraculously, my heart function increased enough to remove my LVAD in December 2021, something that only about 1% of patients with LVADs are able to do.

Since then, I have been walking, running and hiking. My goal for 2022 became to run the Peachtree Road Race in Atlanta, with my sister by my side, in honor of my journey. As I run past Piedmont Hospital during the Peachtree Road Race on July 4, 2022, I hope I can inspire others who are facing what seems like insurmountable health challenges and I hope to honor the team of doctors and nurses at Piedmont Hospital who believed in me and gave me a second chance at life.

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Lily Tavitas

Since I moved to Georgia in 2016 from Monterrey, Mexico, I’ve started doing some races like Peachtree City Classic, Hot Chocolate and other local races. Everyone here when I was talking about my races asked me if I’d run the Peachtree Road Race and I was told that the Peachtree Road Race is a must. But because it’s on a holiday, my family and I were always out of town.

I’ve learned more about the race — it’s so popular and it’s a big one. So I decided to stay and give it a try.

Jennifer Delanty

In 1962, I was born in Track City USA, also known as Eugene, Oregon. I lived in Atlanta for five years in the mid-1980′s. Unfortunately, I never ran the Peachtree Road Race before relocating to the Pacific Northwest in 1989. I will turn 60 the day after this race. I miss Atlanta and am very happy the July 4th race is back on after the pandemic imposed other plans. Participating in this race on the last day of my 50′s is a wonderful gift I hope to give myself!