Costumes, father-son duos show meaning of AJC Peachtree Road Race

Runners Kirstiana Perryman, left, and Bradford Lorenz wear costumes near the Shepherd Center during the AJC Peachtree Road Race on Saturday, July 3, 2021. (Christine Tannous / christine.tannous@ajc.com)
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Runners Kirstiana Perryman, left, and Bradford Lorenz wear costumes near the Shepherd Center during the AJC Peachtree Road Race on Saturday, July 3, 2021. (Christine Tannous / christine.tannous@ajc.com)

Credit: Atlanta Journal-Constitution

The most popular outfit among participants running in The Atlanta Journal-Constitution Peachtree Road Race is running shorts and either a compression shirt, T-shirt or no shirt at all.

That’s the same wardrobe that has kept runners comfortable and cool during the 10K race for decades.

However, Bradford Lorenz and Kirstiana Perryman decided the conventional clothing choice wasn’t the only way to compete in the annual Peachtree.

ExploreMore coverage of the AJC Peachtree Road Race

As the two made their way across the finish line in Piedmont Park on Saturday morning, they stood out like a bruised fruit, probably because one of them was dressed as a fruit.

Perryman, 24, was wrapped in a peach costume that provided no aerodynamic benefits. Lorenz, 24, ran beside Perryman the peach while wearing a pine-tree costume that was decorated with tinsel and balls, making it resemble a Christmas tree.

“We were going for fun over speed,” said Perryman, who finished her fifth Peachtree race Saturday, the first day of what this year is a two-day event. “It’s his first Peachtree, so I said, ‘We have to do costumes.’ We went for the peach and the tree.”

Lorenz, a South Carolina native who is in graduate school at UGA, had heard about the race for years, but had never thought about actually doing it until Perryman urged him to run it with her. The two finished in about an hour, they said.

“I got invited, but I just love race atmospheres,” Lorenz said. “It’s just better running with people and with people cheering you on.”

Under their on-theme costumes, the two wore T-shirts and running shorts, which is what they’re more comfortable running in. Perryman said that the two enjoy running, but haven’t done it as often as they’d prefer.

“We kind of fell off this summer, but this is such a great return,” Perryman said. “It’s fun. People who don’t usually run, people who run a lot all get together and get to run through (Buckhead and Midtown). I love it.”

Around 31,000 participants registered to run the Peachtree this weekend (instead of the usual 60,000), and Lorenz isn’t alone in this year’s race being his first time. Several others who ran by were announced by one of the PA announcers to be first-time participants.

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The Atlanta Journal-Constitution's Peachtree Road Race returned back to normal after a year off due to the pandemic.

One of the rookie Peachtree runners was 10-year-old Everett Teusink, who ran with his dad, Eric.

“This was my 25th (time running the Peachtree), but it was my son’s first year he was eligible,” Eric said. “We thought about sneaking him when he was younger, but we followed the rules and waited until he was 10.”

Everett actually crossed the finish line a few steps ahead of his dad. Once he was finished, the young boy put his hands on his head and took some moments to catch his breath.

Eric high-fived his son and suddenly a big smile rushed across each of their faces.

The two explained that Everett had run three miles several times and he plays soccer, but running six miles was harder than he expected.

“I was really nervous,” the 10-year-old said. “It’s just a really long run. There were a lot of hills, and it’s just hard to outrun them.”

Eric hopes that this can become a father-son tradition, joining a fraternity of other father-son duos.

Such as the Efirds, Jeff and Nick. Jeff, 60, has now completed 34 Peachtree Road Races and Nick, 26, ran his third Saturday.

When they caught their breath, Nick put his arm around his dad’s shoulders as they started to walk toward the after-race festivities. Nick was gleaming with pride.

“He’s (ran the Peachtree ) over five decades,” Nick said as his father blushed. “We’ve run together a couple of times. I made sure that he broke 50 minutes and he’s 60 years old, so I tried pushing him today.”

Jeff’s running regimen has been the same since Nick was a kid: run four miles Tuesdays and Thursdays, six miles Sundays.

Both Efirds were grateful for the troops and supporters that cheered them on while they completed the course. For Jeff, that’s what the Peachtree Road Race is about.

“The crowds excite me,” Jeff said. “It was a little low today, but it’s everyone enjoying the time, effort, the rewards and the holiday. Thankful for our soldiers that give us these freedoms, we really appreciate it.”

“It’s great to be back after last year’s was pushed back,” Nick added. “It’s nice to be back on the course because that’s what makes it the Peachtree.”