ATLANTA – Nearly 12,000 runners and walkers started their Thanksgiving with a morning run during the annual Thanksgiving Day Half Marathon, which benefits Atlanta’s homeless.
Athletes came from all over to compete in events including: The Half Marathon, 5K, Blue Cross Blue Shield of Georgia One Mile and 50m Dash all started and finished near Turner Field.
Sam Chelanga of Colorado Springs, Colo., sprinted for the win at 14:21, beating out competitor Atlanta Track Club Elite’s Kirubel Erassa, by four seconds.
“It’s early in the season, so I don’t know where I’m at; I don’t know where Kirubel’s at. So I pushed him,” Chelanga said. “I wanted to make it fun and push myself.”
PHOTOS | Thanksgiving Day races
The first female in the 5K was Natosha Rogers, also from Colorado, who finished in 16:09. Rogers credited Furman University Junior Allie Buchalski, of Alpharetta, Ga., who placed second in 16:12, with pushing her to the win.
“We were neck and neck the whole time. That last mile was really pushing it for me, but I’m glad I dug deep for the win,” Rogers said. “It was challenging with the hills, but I’m used to running longer races so it went by really quickly.”
The sold-out Thanksgiving Day Half Marathon turned into a hometown battle between brothers, Jared and Josh Carson. Jared took the top spot with 1:11:33, to his brother Josh’s 1:12:47 time.
“My competitive edge got the best of me,” Jared, who now lives in Austin, Texas, admitted. “I’ve run this race three or four times now, and I always enjoy coming back and running it.”
Top female, Annie Kelly, has been kicking it up a notch every year, placing first in 2014 and third in 2015. Kelly runs for the University of Colorado Boulder and has improved her 2014 time 1:25:40, breaking the finishing tape this year with a PR of 1:21:19.
“I probably went out a little fast, but I was trying to break 1:20,” Kelly said. “I honestly started dying around mile 11, but there was a male runner who kept telling me to run and that helped a lot.”