In her first AJC Peachtree Road Race since running the satellite race in Kuwait last year, Sgt. Samantha Kanatzar found some of the same community that she said helped save her life during her deployment.
While waiting for the race to begin in Buckhead early Monday morning, she struck up a conversation with a fellow runner. Shortly after came an invitation to join his postrace group in Piedmont Park.
“No matter where you’re from, no matter how fast you are, the running community supports you,” said Kanatzar, nursing a beer and cooling down from the race.
Kanatzar, subject of an AJC story in which she credited the running club at Camp Arifjan for helping her through an impending divorce, low self-esteem and a weight challenge, ran the Peachtree as a tribute to her fellow club members. Her goal is to run the five races whose satellite versions she ran in Kuwait.
Kanatzar, from Fort Bragg, N.C., didn’t run the time she wanted, but still absorbed the Peachtree experience. Around mile 3, she joined some fans alongside the course and put down a beer shotgun-style. She said she felt bad for them because no runners were willing to imbibe with them.
Rather remarkably, she said she thought the conditions were more adverse in Atlanta than they were in Kuwait, when she ran the satellite Peachtree at 2:30 p.m. local time with temperatures around 130 degrees. In Kuwait, runners can take cover from the sun with a long-sleeve shirt or a hat, she said, but there was no escaping the humidity Monday.
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