AJC Peachtree Road Race winner will compete with his son for first time

Krige Schabort wins the Open Men's Division of the Shepherd Center Wheelchair Division during the AJC Peachtree Road Race Friday morning July 4, 2014, in Atlanta, Ga.. PHOTO BY / JASON GETZ
Krige Schabort wins the Open Men's Division of the Shepherd Center Wheelchair Division during the AJC Peachtree Road Race Friday morning July 4, 2014, in Atlanta, Ga.. PHOTO BY / JASON GETZ

Credit: Jason Getz

Credit: Jason Getz

The five-time winner of the Shepherd Center’s AJC Peachtree Road Race Wheelchair Division will do the race with his son

For Krige Schabort, 57, the Virtual Running of the AJC Peachtree Road Race is both a chance to uphold a long-standing tradition and the opportunity to start a new one.

Schabort has competed in the Shepherd Center’s AJC Peachtree Road Race Wheelchair Division every year since 1998, and he has won five times. This year’s event will take on additional significance: For the first time ever, he will race with his 16-year-old son, Simon.

A sophomore at Model High School in Rome, Georgia, Simon is one of the top ranked cross-country athletes in the state. In fact, so far this season he has not lost to anyone in his age group.

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“I am at the end of my career … and Simon’s at the start of it. So, I’m passing the baton over to him to keep going with it,” said Schabort.

In 1987, while serving in the South African Army, Schabort lost both legs when a bomb exploded near him. Although he had always displayed an aptitude for running, Schabort said it wasn’t until he no longer had legs that he fell in love with the sport.

“Once I had wheels, I realized there was a whole new world and what opportunity there is in my sport. So, I took it at heart, and I tried to make the best of it,” Schabort said.

In the years that have followed, Schabort has excelled in the triathlon and marathon, becoming a six-time Paralympian, two-time Paralympic medalist and two-time TCS New York City Marathon champion.

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Credit: Courtesy of Schabort Family

Said Simon: “My dad’s a big inspiration to me, and it’s pretty cool to try to follow in his footsteps.”

Although father and son have trained together since Simon was 6 years old, their workouts intensified during the pandemic. This spring, when Simon’s track practices were halted and he was unable to meet with his personal coach, he and Schabort started exercising together daily – Simon on foot and Schabort using wheels.

“It definitely helped me stay motivated. It helps you stay accountable, and you can push each other. It’s always easier with two people instead of one,” Simon said.

Now, Simon’s cross-country team practices have resumed, but he and Schabort still train together at least once each week. During their workouts, they generally maintain the same pace, except when they encounter hills. Simon accelerates on the uphill portions, and Schabort blazes ahead when they go downhill. While they are not particularly competitive in workouts, they intend to bring some friendly competition to this year’s Peachtree.

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“We’ll have a sprint finish,” Schabort said. “I’m not going to lose without a fight.”

They plan to complete the event in either Cedartown or Rome, Georgia, and even though they won’t tackle the notorious Cardiac Hill they will still incorporate some hills into their route. And instead of the typical thunderous crowds, Schabort said, his wife, 10-year-old daughter and 18-year-old son will be there to cheer them on.

“Peachtree is a very special event, and it’s one of those that always has great memories. And we’ll try and transfer all of those over into our virtual event,” Schabort said.

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