Last Thursday marked the 50th running of the Peachtree Road Race. Officials believe it’s the world’s largest 10-K.
But that’s not the only way this event made history this year.
According to race director, Rich Kenah, close to 2 million people have crossed the Peachtree finish line over the years. So this year, the race organizers wanted to do something different.
“We wanted to do something special that would recognize those at the front of the pack,” says Kenah. In honor of the 50th running there was a $50,000 bonus prize for the first racer in each division to break a Peachtree record.
That goes for the wheelchair division too. They were set to receive the exact same size bonus as the foot race runners. Kenah says that is unprecedented.
“Wheelchair athletes have made tremendous progress over the last few decades. But in the area of bonus money and prize money, there has never been equality in any race around the world.”
This year’s race was expected to be fast with the bonus attracting some of the top athletes in the world to compete in Peachtree’s wheelchair division.
One of those athletes is U.S. National team member with the para-Olympic track and field team, Susannah Scaroni
She says she was speechless when she first heard the news.
“I couldn’t even find the words at that point. It’s just an incredible statement to make, that elite wheelchair racing is seen as elite as elite foot running.”
Scaroni says not only does the bonus make a statement but it also increases the visibility of her sport.
“When you can get exposure to a bunch of wheelchair racers that are elite, down the line, you can get some little kid from Spokane, Washington, who sees wheelchair racing,” she says.
The Peachtree race is one of the first places Scaroni saw adult wheelchair athletes when she was a kid.
“It’s changed my entire life,” she says.
Scaroni says she’s excited to be that role model for future athletes.