Julia Emmons was a key to the success of The Atlanta Journal-Constitution Peachtree Road Race for more than 20 years. (ANDY SHARP/AJC file)

Julia Emmons ready for induction into Atlanta Sports Hall of Fame

A former executive director of the Atlanta Track Club, Julia Emmons will be inducted into the Atlanta Sports Hall of Fame class of 2017 on Feb. 17.

“I’ve never been in a hall of fame where an Atlanta Falcons football player is one of my fellow inductees or nationally known sports commentators, so it’s a great thrill,” Emmons said on being inducted. “I feel slightly out of place, but I’ll go with it.”

Joining Emmons in this year’s class of the Atlanta Sports Hall of Fame are Keith Brooking, a former linebacker for the Falcons and Georgia Tech; the late Craig Sager, a former broadcaster for TNT, TBS and CNN; Steve Holman, best-known as the Hawks’ radio play-by-play voice; and Bob Reinhart, former head basketball coach at Georgia State and Decatur High, and an assistant coach for the Hawks.

Emmons started her career at the Atlanta Track Club in 1985, where she had the task of planning one of Atlanta’s signature annual events, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution Peachtree Road Race. When she first took over the race, 25,000 participants were allowed. After she retired in 2006, the race had increased to 55,000 participants.

“We figured out how to get people into the park using the 12th Street entrance and the 14th Street entrance. There was no guarantee it would work but it did. Every three or four years, we very quietly without any announcement, would add 5,000 people. Once we figured out how to do 40,000, then we would slowly keep going until we got up to 55,000.”

Emmons also had a career in different leadership roles with USA Track and Field, such as being the chair of the women’s long-distance running. In the 1996 Centennial Olympic Games in Atlanta she directed the men’s and women’s marathons. She is the only woman to direct an Olympic marathon.

From 1997-2001 she served on the Atlanta City Council. In 2006, Atlanta Mayor Shirley Franklin presented her with the city’s highest honor, the Phoenix Award for her efforts and commitments to the city. Emmons said she loves the city of Atlanta, and it showed with her commitment to sports and the community.

“What I like best is that for a southern city, it’s very opened, considering I came here in 1968,” Emmons said. “Anybody coming in here with ambition and brains and willingness to work hard can succeed here. It doesn’t matter who you are or where you’re from.”

Emmons will be part of eight halls of fame after her induction into the Atlanta Sports Hall of Fame. She is a member of Emory University Sports Hall of Fame; the Georgia Track Coaches Hall of Fame, The Atlanta Convention and Visitors Bureau Hall of Fame, RRCA Distance Running Hall of Fame and The Atlanta Hospitality Hall of Fame.

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