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52nd AJC Peachtree Road Race is off and running

After being held virtually last year, the atmosphere was buzzing in Atlanta for the return of the in-person race Saturday morning.

ATLANTA — The 52nd AJC Peachtree Road Race got off the blocks early Saturday amid beautiful conditions and a buzzing atmosphere with the race finally back in person.

Being held across two days this year to thin running groups as an accommodation for lingering pandemic conditions, the Peachtree started off with 22-year-old Alberto Mena crossing the finish line at just over 32 minutes (32:06).

RELATED: Your guide to the 52nd running of the AJC Peachtree Road Race

Mena was followed a few minutes later by the first women's finisher, Jessica Smith from Philadelphia. She clocked in at 36:29.

Waves of runners will continue across the finish line this morning, which you can watch live on 11Alive's YouTube page or in the player below.

Tomorrow will see the elite group of runners vie for the Peachtree's best time on the race's traditional start day of July 4th. That will begin at 6:30 a.m. and 11Alive will have live coverage from every angle.

The 52nd running of the AJC Peachtree Road Race

For the first time ever, the 2021 race will take place over two days. The crowd will be thinner.

Typically, the elite runners come from all over the world. This year, they’re all from the Unites States.

“Just to lean into being as safe as possible,” says Race Director Rich Kenah. “Just don’t understand the different requirements different countries will have to get into the U.S.”

RELATED: This is what's different at the AJC Peachtree Road Race this year

Typically, runners start the race in waves of 3,000 separated by 5-minutes. This year, each wave will be made up of less than 1,500 runners separated by 10-minutes. There will be room for everyone stay six-feet apart.

Runners will be required to wear masks before the race and once they cross the finish line.

“You’re just going to be able to peel a mask off the back of your bib which will have in a little pouch,” says Kenah.

Runners will be allowed in the park for a drink and snack, but no one else. There will be no finish line parties.

The park is usually where runners grab their coveted t-shirt and see the secret design for the first time.

This year, runners will have their t-shirts in hand before the race.

COVID has altered this treasured Atlanta tradition, but our old friend is back and beginning to look like the Peachtree it once was.

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