ATLANTA (July 4, 2014) – The 60,000 participants of the 2014 AJC Peachtree Road Race enjoyed a break in the temperatures and the humidity this Fourth of July. From American flags at the beginning and end of the course to the patriotic outfits of the participants, the 45th running of the event celebrated our nation’s independence in style.
Christo Landry (Ann Arbor, Mich.) and Amy Hastings (Providence, RI) took home victories with times of 28 minutes, 25 seconds and 32:16 respectively, each earning the title of 2014 USA 10K Champion. Landry earned his third straight USA title this year with his win and bested his 10K personal record. Hastings also set a personal record after finishing third last week at 10,000 meters in the USATF Outdoor Nationals.
“It’s clear Atlanta knows how to celebrate the Fourth of July,” said Rich Kenah. “To see 60,000 strong start down Peachtree Road and end at Piedmont Park on a perfect weather day like this, is what our staff at Atlanta Track Club looks forward to every year.”
Top Americans Face Off
Landry won his third-consecutive title on the roads this year when he took the lead with 400 meters to go to win the race and the men’s USA 10K Championships in 28:25.
Winning the women’s title was Hastings, who seized the lead at the crest of Cardiac Hill and never relinquished it, breaking the tape in 32:16 for her first 10K road title. Hastings, 30, was on a streak of her own: the AJC Peachtree Road Race was her third 10K race in 21 days.
Each of the winners took home $15,000 of the $100,000 total prize purse on a partly sunny morning with a temperature of 67 degrees at the start. It was the second year in a row that the AJC Peachtree Road Race, the largest road race in the country and the largest 10K in the world, played host to both the men’s and women’s USA 10 km Championships.
Asked about her grueling competition schedule, Hastings, of East Providence, RI, said: “I did things like that in college, but it’s been a long time.”
Finishing second for the women was Sara Hall, 30, in 32:28, with Rachel Ward third in 32:36.
After the largely downhill opening miles, a small pack of Hastings, Hall, Ward, and Kellyn Johnson began heading up Cardiac Hill, going through the 3-mile mark in 15:07. Ward—who led for much of the early going in last week’s USATF Outdoor Nationals 10,000-meter race on the track—made a move in the middle of the hill to take the lead, but Hastings would have none of it. At the crest of Cardiac, Hastings took off, quickly building up a 25-meter lead that she would never relinquish.
“Amy stayed really strong on those hills, which is really tough to do,” said Hall.
Hastings said that winning the USA title felt “incredible … but to do it on the Fourth of July, it just feels even better.”
In the men’s race, local favorite Girma Mecheso, who was a high school star in nearby Lilburn, GA, surged at the 1-mile mark, taking a 10-meter lead on the deep field, but Tyler Pennel led a pack of Landry, Aaron Braun, Shadrack Biwott, and Jake Riley in overtaking him partway up Cardiac Hill. Pennel kept up the push, and one by one dropped everyone but Landry. Over the last mile it was a two-man race, with Pennel, the 2012 NCAA Division II 10,000-meter champion who was the seventh American finisher here last year, and Landry together at the turn 800 meters from the finish.
For a moment, it looked as if Pennel would prevail, but 400 meters from the finish Landry put the hammer down. Pennel could not respond, with Landry prevailing for his third-consecutive USA road title in three months, beginning with the USA 10-Mile Championship on April 6 and then, five weeks later, the USA 25K Championships.
“Coming in, I was thinking it was a very strong field,” said the 30-year-old Landry, who lives and trains in Ann Arbor, Mich. “While I knew I could win, I also very well knew that I could get seventh or eighth with the quality of this field. I’m glad I had a good day.”
Pennel would hang on to finish second in 28:30, with Biwott catching Braun at the line for third. Both were given the same time, 28:52.
In the Masters’ races, Kevin Castille (Lafayette, La.) pulled away from the pack and finished in 31:26. Jen Rhines (Boston) came in first for her Masters debut with a time of 33:04.
The very last person to cross the start line was Meb Keflezighi, winner of the 2014 Boston Marathon. Keflezighi (above) was the featured runner in Atlanta Track Club’s inaugural Kilometer Kids Charity Chase, an online fundraiser benefitting the club’s youth running program, Kilometer Kids. He set out to raise $75,000 by passing as many participants as possible, with a goal of 22,500. Donations are still being accepted online at atlantatrackclub.org. After exceeding his goal and passing 22,780 participants, Keflezighi’s approximate finish time was 37:56.
“It was a new perspective to start as the very last runner of this year’s AJC Peachtree Road Race and I’m honored to have raised money for Atlanta Track Club’s Kilometer Kids with each step I took,” said Keflezighi.
A Peachy T-Shirt
One of the most anticipated moments of the morning was the unveiling of the winning design of the 2014 AJC Peachtree Road Race T-shirt Design Contest. Lilburn resident James Balke created the winning design, which featured a peach, the Fourth of July and a map of the course. This is the second time Balke has won the contest; he also won in 1997.