Why I run: stories from AJC Peachtree Road Race participants

Get a virtual look at The Atlanta Journal-Constitution Peachtree Road Race, as runners talk about what it means to accomplish the 4th of July tradition in Atlanta. Video by Ryon Horne

For some it’s tradition; for others it’s a personal goal. Some run for those who no longer can

This year’s Atlanta Journal-Constitution Peachtree Road Race returns to an in-person format but will be run over two days: Saturday, July 3, and Sunday, July 4.

There also is a virtual option where participants can map out their own 6.2-mile route. Registration for the virtual run is open through June 7. You can sign up here.

ExploreAll you need to know about the 2021 Atlanta Journal-Constitution Peachtree Road Race

Each of the 60,000 people who run the world’s largest 10K have a reason for doing so. For some it’s tradition; for others, it’s a personal goal. Some run for those who no longer can.

In April, the Atlanta Track Club asked you to share your stories about why you’re participating and what motivates you to run.

Here are some of your responses, which might have been edited for style or clarity.

Christine Beard

I didn’t start running until I was 58; did my first Peachtree then, (with) only 30,000 then in the race. I will do my 32nd race this July, and I will be 90 in May. I also volunteer first. We use to hold up a fence-like thing, then it became a mesh fence, and last was a nylon rope. When I reach the start I take off my volunteer shirt and have my singlet with my number pinned to it and I take off. Usually I always worked out on the treadmill at the Y, but now with the virus I have been trying to just walk, jog near the river or my neighborhood. My husband would drive me to the race to do my volunteer work around 4:30 in the morning. After he passed away I got my son to do this; therefore, he also started to volunteer and run. I use to do a lot of 5Ks each year to keep limber for the Peachtree — keep moving, I tell my friends, though not too many left at my age.

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Edward Murphy

The race is now a race to the final run. This will be my 40th consecutive. I want to see if I can run the race without a miss until the last year I’m still alive. Need one knee replaced now. Have to walk it this year. Great fun and a goal to keep me alive longer. Thanks to all volunteers.

Jacque Taylor

Unfortunately, due to work I am only able to do the virtual option; but after completing that I will have now completed every race my father did when he ran. My father drove from Fayetteville, AR, on a Thursday after getting off work. When arriving in Atlanta he slept in his car and after completing the race got back in his car and drove back to Fayetteville, AR, to get back in time to go to work on Monday. He had heard so much about the race that he was determined to find a way to complete it.

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David Starks

After finally straightening my life out in 2014, (in more than just the physical aspect) I started running the Peachtree Road Race. My last year running was 2017. In 2018 my blood sugar was too low as I woke up that morning. Running would’ve been dangerous. In 2019 I partially tore my hamstring two weeks before the race speed training. And COVID-19 stopped me from participating (even virtually) because I was working long hours at UPS. Now that this virus is under control (enough to do the event live) and I’m fully healthy, I want to start my streak of doing this race and eventually ending in completing the Ultimate Peach.

Shand Gause

This will be my 44 PRR; I missed one in 1997 with a ruptured Achilles tendon. I have 3 daughters, and all have joined me running over the years — one has over 20 PRR T-shirts. My family now includes 6 grandchildren who have run with me and will join me this year for my 44th run. Running has become my passion and for sure attributes to my health. I have saved many of my PRR T-shirts, and was surprised when my family gave me a quilt with many of the past shirts that now decorates my den.

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Rachel Taylor

While this will only be my second year running the Peachtree, it has already become a huge part of my family. My dad was an incredible long distance runner. In middle school he ran with the high school team and was beating almost all of them. This guy would run for miles just because he was bored. Growing up, I can always remember him getting excited when the weather got warmer because that meant he could run outside again (he hates the cold so winter running was just not gonna happen). Even after two battles with cancer, he still ran at least once a week just because he loved it. In 2012, his running days were finally over. He was diagnosed with Parkinson’s, and running was just no longer an option for him. I decided if he couldn’t run, I would have to do it for him. It started as just casual jogs (really more like walks) around the neighborhood, then I ran (cross country) as a senior in high school to honor him. I went away to college and didn’t really think about it. Every year I would tell him that this would be the year we ran the Peachtree together and every year I forgot and missed the deadline. When the pandemic hit and quarantine forced us all to stay home, I realized it was the perfect time to start getting back into running and finally do this for him. I did just that and had him coaching me along the way. While it won’t happen this year, I hope that someday soon he will be able to join me in crossing that finish line and showing Parkinson’s disease who the boss is.

Sonya Alexander

I saw this post on Facebook and this was an easy one for me. In 2018, the Peachtree Road Race was my first 10K, and it had become a yearly runcation for me. I’m from the Northeast but this race has become a tradition that I don’t want to give up! From the people and the atmosphere to the celebration afterward with family, this race means so much to me. I’m so excited to get back to Atlanta this year and enjoy every bit of those 6.2 miles!

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