John R. Tackett Jr. ran his first AJC Peachtree Road Race in 2005.
Photo: Special
Photo: Special

Why I run: 'I wanted to run at least one Peachtree Road Race'

In 2003 my wife and I were sitting in the Original Pancake House that used to be across the street from Piedmont Hospital. It was a Sunday morning and the street was packed with runners coming up and down the street. It seemed that the AJC Peachtree Road Race was a month away.

I commented to my wife, "What idiot would run down Peachtree Street in the middle of summer?" Little did I know.

In 2004, I made a life-altering decision to lose weight. I had broken the 300-pound mark and I knew that something had to be done. So my wife and I started on the South Beach Diet and the weight started to come off. But I knew that I also needed to increase my exercise, so I started walking around my neighborhood. The walking led to jogging and eventually into running. By then I had lost about 50 pounds and was working on breaking the 200-pound mark.

While watching the 2004 Peachtree Road Race on TV, my wife commented to me, "Have you thought about running the Peachtree?" To be honest, I had not, but I decided at that point I would run the 2005 Peachtree Road Race. I had only planned on the one time running, but later something happened that changed my mind. So I joined the Atlanta Track Club so I could get the early registration for the race.

I worked hard and started running 10K races in order to get a good qualifying time for the race. At my final race before registration opened, I had broken a 50-minute 10K and qualified for time group 1. I was so excited. I was going to run the Peachtree for the first time.

Come race day I was psyched up and raring to go. But I knew I needed to pace myself because of the heat and humidity and the infamous hills. Needless to say I completed the course in 48:48. I had finished a Peachtree Road Race!

My running continued and at my first half-marathon in January of 2006 at about mile 11, I achieved what I describe as, "my runner's high." It was then I realized I enjoyed running and would continue running as long as I could. And yes, that meant I would be signing up for my second Peachtree Road Race.

Here it is 2014 and I have completed nine Peachtree Road Races and look forward to 10. I have completed 20 marathons, including two runnings of the Boston Marathon (my first marathon was the 2006 Thanksgiving Day Atlanta Marathon); over 25 half-marathons and have logged more than 11,000 miles of running. I am also a triathlete having completed two half-Ironman events and numerous Olympic distance events. In 2014, just to "shake things up" I am entering a number of obstacle races. At 56, I have slowed down in regards to my speeds, but I see no let-up in my running, or my adventures. 

I have met some amazing folks because of my running and many have become good friends. I have also mentored a number of new runners - including my niece and nephew in Utah. I am proud to say, “I AM A RUNNER!” Running has defined me as a person and motivated me in other endeavors in my life.

I still have all my Peachtree T-shirts and bibs, and the days before each Peachtree I wear the shirts to work, proclaiming to all what I have done and what I will be doing on July 4th - all because I wanted to run at least one Peachtree Road Race.

Want to share your running story? E-mail your "Why I Run" tale, along with a photo to Stories will be published ahead of the 2014 AJC Peachtree Road Race on July 4th.

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