Charles Fallis, 90, was among the throng of runners who participated in the 2016 Atlanta Journal-Constitution Peachtree Road Race on Monday. Fallis ran the race alongside Owen Skinner, his pastor at Tucker First United Methodist Church.
“When you get as old as I am, you need a preacher handy,” Fallis said.
The endeavor is nothing new for the Charlotte, Ark., native. Fallis first participated in the race in 1981 and has raced every year except in 1987, when his mother’s death prevented his attendance. He ran Monday’s edition in the shirt he received 35 years ago.
Fallis has seen quite a lot in his life. He was drafted during World War II and spent time in the Pacific, seeing combat in places such as Iowa Jima and Okinawa Island. After the war, he returned to Arkansas and served as a school superintendent in Pine Bluff, Ark., where he was involved in the fight for integration and received threats from the Ku Klux Klan.
In 1971 Fallis moved on to teach at Georgia State, where he served as a professor in the college of education and later the head of the educational administration department. He spent 23 years at GSU before retiring in 1993.
His past involvement with people on a daily basis shows in his love for this race, as he’s constantly pulling off to the side to chat with his fellow runners.
“I didn’t see a soul I knew (this year), but I met a lot of people,” Fallis said.
Skinner explained it showed in the duo’s unofficial time.
“It took him a little longer for him than the last two years because people were stopping him, and he wanted to stop and talk to each person,” said Skinner, who has raced with Fallis for the past three years. “I had to remind the people, ‘Remember, he’s racing.’”
Fallis and Skinner finished this year’s race at about two hours, 20 minutes. While the time was slower than his previous races, Fallis took solace in his showing and plans to be back for the 36th time come 2017.
“I’m pleased I finished on my feet,” Fallis said.
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