It may still be the “World’s Largest 10K” but this year the 52nd Atlanta Journal-Constitution Peachtree Road Race will try to be known as the “World’s Safest 10K.”

In a welcome change from last year, when the race had to be run virtually because of the myriad effects of COVID-19, a scaled-down Peachtree Road Race is scheduled to return as a live event this year on the same route: Lenox Square to Piedmont Park. It is scheduled to take place on the Fourth of July, and possibly on July 3. That potential change from one day to two days is part of a plethora of tweaks being made by the Atlanta Track Club, which organizes the race, to try to keep everyone — participants, volunteers, organizers, medical personnel, safety personnel — as safe as possible amid the pandemic. The number of participants will be determined at a later date.

If the race has to be canceled, entrants will receive full refunds: $38 for Atlanta Track Club members and $45 for lottery winners. Registration opens March 15 and ATC Executive Director Rich Kenah said there will be plenty of notices going out in February and early March about how to register. Unlike previous years, when the registration window would close April 1, this year it will stay open until at least May 1.

Explore52nd AJC Peachtree Road Race: What you need to know

A live event, held on the Fourth of July weekend and with guaranteed refunds were part of three priorities that the ATC learned last year, according to Kenah. There will be a virtual race for those who aren’t comfortable participating in a group environment or who don’t get in through the lottery.

“Because the world has learned that the pandemic ultimately drives your final decisions, we are approaching this quite differently than last year,” Kenah told The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. “We want to give ourselves the most opportunity to deliver a Peachtree at scale. The best opportunity for that is a Peachtree over two days.”

There won’t be the typical 60,000 entrants in this race. There will be fewer by design. Kenah said the ATC won’t know the number of entrants until early May. A COVID-19 advisory committee composed of members of the ATC, medical community, infectious-disease experts, officials from City of Atlanta and emergency-management personnel will help decide on the appropriate number of entrants.

“Our focus is on safety and mitigation,” he said. “If we focus on safety and mitigation, we will land on a number that’s comfortable for all.”

As part of the safety measures, the ATC is considering mandating proof of receiving the COVID vaccine or proof of testing as a last step to receiving a race bib. The same will be true of volunteers. There also will be a mask mandate for participants while at the start line and then again after they finish the race. Masks will be included as part of the race packets sent to participants.

Fluid areas likely will have closed containers and be self-serve as part of the safety efforts. There may be other steps taken that will be decided by the COVID advisory committee.

“Everyone will need to prepare for a very different race-course experience,” Kenah said.

When registering, participants can choose if they want to run July 3 or July 4. If many more choose the third than the fourth, Kenah said a decision will be made on when the race will be held. The City of Atlanta will drive the timeline on a decision for a one-day or two-day race.

In a typical, pre-COVID Peachtree, the starting window is five hours. That likely will be larger this year, whether the race is one day or two days, so that people can be safely spaced out at the Lenox Square starting line.

There will be a race expo in the week leading to the race, but details are to be determined. The same is true of the Peachtree Junior, for racers 14 years or younger. The one-mile race will finish at Piedmont Park, but the date and time are to be determined. The same health rules for the AJC Peachtree Road Race will apply to the Peachtree Junior.

There will be the treasured T-shirts … with one small change. Because of supply-chain timelines, the ATC needs to end the contest to pick the winning design for the T-shirts by the end of March. Designs can be submitted now through Feb. 19.

Lastly, the race will feature an elite field with prize money for U.S. athletes only. The Shepherd Center Wheelchair Division will again be held.

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