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The AJC Peachtree Road Race: How The World’s Largest 10K Was Created

The AJC Peachtree Road Race takes place annually on July 4. The race has come a long way in the last 50 years.
The AJC Peachtree Road Race takes place annually on July 4. The race has come a long way in the last 50 years.
Credit AJC Peachtree Road Race

What began as a July 4 “fun run” by Georgia State University professor Dr. Tim Singleton has now grown into the world’s largest 10K race.

The race has come a long way in the last 50 years.

Streets were not shut down for runners, nor did they have police escorts, but 110 runners kicked off the first “Peachtree Road Race” in 1970.

The race began at the old Sears parking lot and ended in a water fountain close to the Equitable Building in downtown Atlanta.

Since then, the event has grown to 60,000 participants, and it has also added a wheelchair division.

In honor of the 50th time people have run this race, there will be an award of $50,000 for any male or female winner [in any category] who breaks the course record.

WABE producer Summer Evans spoke with her former cross-country coach, Charlie Patterson, who was among the “Original 110” runners. He finished in fourth place in 1970 and will be running again in Thursday’s Peachtree Road Race for the 48th time.

“Running wasn’t very cool back in the late ’60s and ’70s. People viewed you as sort of a strange person. But as a result of running in the first Peachtree, I’ve built a lot of great relationships,” Patterson said.

“City Lights” host Lois Reitzes spoke with Rich Kenah, the executive director of the Atlanta Track Club and the director of the Peachtree Road Race, about this year’s event.

Races will begin Thursday, July 4 at 6:25 a.m. on Peachtree Road in downtown Atlanta.