ATLANTA - The annual Peachtree Road Race will return to an in-person event on the Fourth of July weekend this year in Atlanta. The Atlanta Track Club notified participants on Wednesday.
"The world's largest 10K is shifting, is pivoting in 2021 to being the world's safest 10K. That's going to be our approach," explained Rich Kenah, executive director of the Atlanta Track Club.
Race officials said the 52nd year of the race will be planned for two days and have strict safety measures in place for runners and spectators.
Last year, the race went fully virtual, being pushed back to the Thanksgiving holiday due to the COVID-19 pandemic - with 45,000 people across the world taking part in the event. For this year, runners and walkers will still have the opportunity to participate virtually as well as in-person.
"This year, the AJC Peachtree Road Race may not be the world’s largest 10K. Our top priority is for the Peachtree to be the world’s safest 10K," the director of the Peachtree Road Race Rich Kenah said. "As planning continues, we will remain in constant communication with our medical team and the city of Atlanta to ensure all in attendance feel confident that their 4th of July celebration was both memorable and responsible."
This summer, they plan to hold the event over two days.
"We feel good about our ability to spread our participants over two days, two mornings--July 3rd and July 4th," said Kenah. "So that they will experience that Fourth of July feeling, but doing it in a way that is safe, while still delivering that authentic Peachtree."
When registration opens on March 15, participants will be asked to pick which race day they prefer. On that day, starts will be assigned based on performance.
While the Atlanta Track Club has not set a capacity, officials said they expect the number of runners to be fewer than the usual amount pre-pandemic. They will also offer a virtual option for runners who do not feel comfortable taking part in-person.
Organizers have also changed how they plan to react should the event not take place.
"If we, the track club, and organizations like us have learned anything through this last year, it is that flexibility is required. When we approached last year's Peachtree, when we had to change the date, we gave people the option to get a refund, and then when we went virtual, we didn't give them that option," Kenah said. "If the event, as a result of COVID, can't happen on July 3rd and July 4th like we layout, we will guarantee you your refund. And I think that's important for the track club to rebuild confidence with the community."
As well as the staggard start, face coverings will be mandatory for everyone in attendance when not running or walking. All hydration stations will be self-serve. Post-race gatherings are also suspended.
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