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Runner spotlight: Nonprofit organization helps AJC Peachtree Road Race runner find passion

If you were anywhere near the finish line at the AJC Peachtree Road Race last Fourth of July, you absolutely saw Eli Hamner.

Hamner celebrated around the finish line with enough energy to run another 10K. He high-fived hundreds of finishers and shouted joyous celebrations like, “this is what we do,” as he congratulated his fellow runners.

“This is only my third (consecutive) run, and I love it,” Hamner said of the Peachtree Road Race. “And I’ll keep doing it until my feet don’t move anymore.”

Hamner’s passion and enjoyment of running became evident to anyone that saw him as he made his way from the finish line into Piedmont Park. It also was evident to anyone that may have been watching his Facebook Live broadcast. While celebrating and doing interviews, he held his phone out to talk with his friends and showcase the aftermath of his run.

Since 2013, Hamner has been running with Back on My Feet, a nonprofit organization that helps homeless people gain independence, living skills and job opportunities. The program is offered to those who have at least 90 percent attendance in the group’s morning runs.

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“I run with Back on My Feet, we run 5:45 every Monday, Wednesday and Friday morning,” said Hamner, who now works at the Renaissance Midtown in Atlanta. “That’s what we do. We run about three miles, we even have walkers. I’m at least three times a week with that nonprofit organization. On my own, technically about six days a week.”

He’s lived in Atlanta for 21 years, but Hamner has gotten to travel the country for marathons, half-marathons and other races thanks to some of his fundraising work. He finished the Flying Pig Marathon in his hometown of Cincinnati recently.

Having to head off to work right after finishing the race, he said he didn’t quite meet his time goal because he didn’t want to strain himself.

Above all, Hamner enjoys the AJC Peachtree Road Race because of the community coming together for an event with the same goal in mind.

“Just look at all these people coming together with the same goal, same purpose,” said Hamner about why he loves the Peachtree Road Race. “We’re not the elites, so we know we’re not going to win, so our goal is to do our best and finish to the best of our ability.”

As Hamner walked off to get his T-shirt, he could be heard shouting to his Facebook Live viewers.

“Did y’all hear that? I’m gonna be in the news!”

Suwanee resident, Kevin Benton, had two designs in the top five designs for this year’s 2017 AJC Peachtree Road Race T-Shirt. (Erica A. Hernandez/AJC)

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