Running is Atlanta author Emily Giffin’s family’s greatest passion

She’s taping a ‘Today’ show segment July 3 on one condition: “I have to be in Atlanta on the 4th.”
Emily Giffin (right) with her family at The Atlanta Journal-Constitution Peachtree Road Race in 2019. Courtesy of Paul Ward Photography

Credit: Courtesy of Atlanta Track Club

Credit: Courtesy of Atlanta Track Club

Emily Giffin (right) with her family at The Atlanta Journal-Constitution Peachtree Road Race in 2019. Courtesy of Paul Ward Photography

Emily Giffin first ran The Atlanta Journal-Constitution Peachtree Road Race in 2017 so she could run with her daughter, Harriet, the year she was finally old enough to participate. The New York Times bestselling author was no stranger to the event, having already cheered on her twins Edward and George for several years from the sidelines, but running it put the race in a whole new light for her. “Once I ran it, I got it,” she says. “I got what was so fun.” She’ll be back this July 4, through no small amount of effort on her part — the day before, she’ll be in New York City to tape a “Today” show segment about her latest novel, “The Summer Pact,” which will be published on July 9.

Q: Were you afraid you’d have to miss the race this year?

A: When they said it was the third, I said “OK, as long as we can fly out after we tape my segment and I can get home in time for the Peachtree.” I’ll be home the night of July 3. If they had said that it was the 4th, I don’t know. My publisher and publicist might have been a little upset, but I think I would have said “I’m sorry, Today show; I have to be in Atlanta on the 4th.”

Q: The Peachtree has become quite a day for your family.

A: Our family’s favorite day of the year used to be Christmas, but once my sons started running the Peachtree, it became the Fourth of July. It’s such an exciting day. Running is my family’s greatest passion — my sons are rising juniors at Columbia University, where they run track and cross country; from the time they were in middle school they knew they wanted to run in college. They’ve run Peachtree every year since they were old enough, except for last year when they both had stress fractures — they were crushed not to participate. Now my daughter is a rising junior at Pace Academy and it’s her goal to run in college. Edward finished as top Georgian in 2022 when the boys were 1-2 in their age group, and Harriet will run this year in the Elite High School Division. This will be the first year she’ll start ahead of her brothers.

Q: Any race goals for this year?

A: I try to finish in under an hour. Really my goal is under 55 minutes, but I don’t think I’ve ever done that. It’s just about the participation.

Q: Do you have a favorite Peachtree?

A: Yes — the 50th, because we won the T-shirt contest. You didn’t know who won until you finished. I was yelling, “Harriet, we won!” And these girls were standing there, and they turned around and they said, you won your age group? And I said, “No, no, no, I won for my T-shirt design!” We took pictures together and it turned out they had read my books, so it was fun. I can see someone reading my book on the beach and I just smile to myself and think “oh, that’s so nice,” with no temptation to go up and say I wrote that, but when I see someone wearing that shirt, I’m like, “I designed that T-shirt!”

Q: What else makes the Peachtree special?

A: Running really brings people together. Every age, every walk of life; some people are partying and drinking beer, some people are taking it so seriously, but you’re all there. On top of that it’s the Fourth of July with the patriotic element, the flag waving at the start line, the flyover … It’s just amazing. You really feel that American pride, but civic pride, too. My love of Atlanta is at its peak on that day.