Reporters’ notebook: Running the AJC Peachtree Road Race backward at 1 a.m.

Aerial view shows runners going south on Peachtree Road toward Piedmont Park during the 55th Atlanta Journal-Constitution Peachtree Road Race in Atlanta on Thursday, July 4, 2024. (Miguel Martinez / AJC)

Credit: Miguel Martinez

Credit: Miguel Martinez

Aerial view shows runners going south on Peachtree Road toward Piedmont Park during the 55th Atlanta Journal-Constitution Peachtree Road Race in Atlanta on Thursday, July 4, 2024. (Miguel Martinez / AJC)

The following, a weekly feature of The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, allows our reporters to open their notebooks and provide even more information from our local teams that we cover daily. We think you’ll find it informative, insightful and fun.

Running the AJC Peachtree – backward

Atlanta Track Club executive director Rich Kenah was too occupied Thursday morning with overseeing The Atlanta Journal-Constitution Road Race to participate in the race. But it didn’t keep him from running the course much earlier in the day – in reverse.

Kenah arrived at the race-start area by Lenox Square in Buckhead around 11:30 p.m. Wednesday. Around 12:45 a.m., Kenah volunteered to drive an operational car for the medical team down to the finish area at Piedmont Park in Midtown. And then, needing to get back to the start, Kenah ran the 6.2-mile course in reverse.

Kenah, who ran the 800 meters in the 2000 Olympics, surely could have called for a ride share back to the start area, but said the run was a good way to clear his mind. He didn’t time his reverse Peachtree, but guessed he probably made it in 46 to 48 minutes. A 47-minute time would have put the 53-year-old Kenah safely in the top-five percentile for his age group.

“You get a lot of doubletakes if you’re running the Peachtree at 1 a.m.,” Kenah said.

A real world traveler

Hawks second-round pick Nikola Djurisic knows what goes into the life of a professional athlete. Not only because he has lived that life himself while playing basketball professionally in Serbia, but because his parents played professional sports.

His mother, Vesna Citakovic, played volleyball professionally for 21 years, making stops on teams all over Europe. His father, Dusko Djurisic, played professional soccer for 16 years with teams across Europe.

That means Nikola, who is Serbian but was born in Belgium, understands that life as a professional athlete comes with plenty of moving.

“I lived literally half of my life in Europe because my mom and dad were professional athletes,” Nikola said. “So, most of the time I would move with my mom. I lived in Belgium, Italy, Turkey, Germany, Israel, and came back to Serbia when I was probably 11, 12, I’m not sure, and stayed there ever since.”

Now, Nikola could call Atlanta home for potentially the next year. The team has not made any public declarations on its plans for the 20-year-old and will use NBA Summer League to evaluate where the wing could fit on its roster.

But Nikola understands that uncertainty comes with the territory. He has the basketball gym, though, and that makes things easier.

“Yeah, while you’re in the gym, I speak for myself, everything goes away, just hearing the ball bounce and that’s it,” he said.

What the heck are you doing here?

Collin McHugh, the former Braves relief pitcher and current occasional sideline reporter for Bally’s, took a front-row seat for a postgame press conference with Max Fried following last week’s game against the Pirates.

As Fried walked into the press conference room, they had a brief exchange before Fried took a seat.

Fried: “What the heck are you doing here?

McHugh: “My job.”

It was decided among the press corps that McHugh should get the first question of Fried following the Braves’ 2-1 win.

A bit of history

When Charlie Morton defeated the Pirates last week, he became the 22nd pitcher to have defeated all 30 teams. Only one is a current Hall of Famer: Randy Johnson. Justin Verlander, Max Scherzer and Gerrit Cole are safe bets to join him, though.

SoCal life

Perhaps Georgia legends Stetson Bennett IV, Brock Bowers and Ladd McConkey can spend some time together in August. Each of their NFL teams (Rams, Raiders, Chargers, respectively) will train in Southern California.


Phil Steele’s 2024 preseason SEC team is loaded with Bulldogs:

First team: QB Carson Beck, G Dylan Fairchild, OT Xavier Truss, LB Smael Mondon, CB Daylen Everette, S Malaki Starks

Second team: WR Dillon Bell, G Tate Ratledge, DE Mykel Williams

Third team: TE Oscar Delp

Fourth team: RB Trevor Etienne, DT Nazir Stackhouse

Another accolade for Drew Burress

Georgia Tech outfielder Drew Burress was named D1Baseball’s National Freshman of the Year, as well as a first-team freshman all-American.

Having earned the nation’s top freshman honor from Perfect Game and NCBWA (top hitter), Burress becomes the third Yellow Jacket to be lauded by a major publication as national freshman of the year, joining Mark Teixeira in 1999 (Collegiate Baseball) and Derek Dietrich in 2008 (Rivals).

Burress, a native of Houston County, led Tech in a myriad of categories, including average (.381), home runs (25) and RBIs (67), becoming the 12th Yellow Jacket to win Tech’s triple crown. Burress is the first to accomplish the feat since Matt Gonzalez in 2016. His 25 home runs set the Tech freshman record and fell one shy of tying the single-season record (Kevin Parada, 2022).

In addition to his team-leading average, the NCBWA Freshman Hitter of the Year finished with 15 doubles and three triples and drew more walks (58) than strikeouts (37) for a .512 on-base percentage and an OPS of 1.333. He also finished 8-for-10 in stolen bases and set the Tech record for most assists by an outfielder, gunning down 10 base runners from center field this season.

Burress led all Division I freshmen in six statistical categories to finish the regular season (home runs, home runs per game, slugging, total bases, walks and walks per game), while ranking top three nationally in 11 categories. He also led ACC freshmen in eight categories to wrap up the year (runs and on-base percentage), while also ranking second in RBIs, RBIs/game and batting average to earn first-team all-conference honors.

In only his first season, Burress has racked up a plethora of accolades. In addition to all-conference and ACC Freshman of the Year honors, Burress was also named Perfect Game Third-Team All-American, Perfect Game Freshman First-Team All-American, a semifinalist for the Golden Spikes Award and the Dick Howser Trophy.

-Staff writers Ken Sugiura, Gabriel Burns, Lauren Williams and Chris Vivlamore contributed to this report.