The Atlanta Journal-Constitution Peachtree Road Race will this year debut the Peachtree Cup, an event featuring some of the best runners competing in teams against each other on the 10K course on the Fourth of July.
The teams, each featuring three men and women, are Team USA, Team Europe, Team Asia and Team Africa.
“For decades, the Atlanta Journal-Constitution Peachtree Road Race has attracted the legends of the sport, the world’s best endurance athletes,” Atlanta Track Club executive director Rich Kenah said. “We wanted to maintain that tradition, but also wanted to present the race in a unique format that everybody could easily understand, while still spotlighting the Fourth of July.”
Christo Landry, last year’s Peachtree champ and a member of the U.S. team, is excited about the change because of the uniqueness of the format.
“It’s a great opportunity that you don’t find post-collegiately,” he said. “Some of my favorite memories are with teams because you have someone to share it with. To have someone to run with and run for gives you added motivation during the race.”
The strategy for a team race compared with an individual race likely won’t change much because the winning team will be decided by each member’s times after they have been added together. The lowest total time wins. So, the faster everyone goes, the greater the chance of winning. Landry said he is sure that teams will meet before the race to discuss the course and the expected conditions.
“Once you are out there, everyone needs to run their own race,” he said. “Running being an individual sport, you are used to running things on your own.”
The winning team will split $42,000 among the six racers. One runner’s total won’t be as much as the $15,000 first-place prize won by Landry last year when the race didn’t feature the team format, but he said the size of this year’s purse ($98,500) for both the Peachtree Cup and open race made it evident that the Atlanta Track Club wants to put on a quality race.
The captain for the U.S team will be U.S. Olympic bronze medalist Shalane Flanagan, who will make her debut at the Peachtree Road Race. She holds three U.S. records in the 10,000 meters on a track (30:22.22) and 15K on roads (47:00). Her bronze medal came in the 2008 Olympics in 10,000 meters.
Ethiopia’s Gebre Gebremariam, who won the 2010 Peachtree, will captain Africa. Italy’s Daniele Meucci will captain Europe. He is the 2014 European champ in the marathon. Japan’s Yusuke Hasegawa will captain Asia. The rest of the teams will be announced by the middle of June, according to Kenah.
“We’re pretty excited about the quality and diversity of the athletes competing for the Peachtree Cup,” Kenah said.
The Cup won’t be a one-and-done affair. Kenah plans for it to be an annual competition, but the next iteration may not include elite athletes.
“I’d love to be able to come back and win the race that ties together Georgia, the Atlanta Track Club and Mizuno,” Landry said. “You always want to defend your championships.”