ATLANTA — Athletes who break records in the 50th running of the AJC Peachtree Road Race could see a financial windfall following an announcement from the Atlanta Track Club.
For the 50th running of the race on July 4, the track club said that winners of the foot race or the Shepherd Center Wheelchair Division who top the best times in their division will be awarded $50,000 on top of their prize money.
Organizers said the addition makes the Peachtree the most lucrative 10K in the U.S. and also brings the biggest single payday for wheelchair athletes.
“This is a historic year for the AJC Peachtree Road Race,” said Becky Washburn, MS, wellness manager at Shepherd Center. “$50,000 is the highest bonus for a single event in wheelchair racing, and it sets a precedent for equality in the elite runners and wheelchair athletes.”
So, what are the times to beat? The most recent record-setting run at the Peachtree was in 2009 when Edith Hunkeler set the women's wheelchair division record at 22:09. Saul Mendoza set the men's wheelchair record of 18:38 in 2004 - a record almost beat by Daniel Romanchuk in 2018.
In the footrace, Joseph Kimani set the men's division-winning time of 27:04 in 1996 - a record not just in the Peachtree but the fastest 10K nationwide.
“Joseph would be really honored by the fact that his mark is being recognized as so significant, and that such a significant bonus is being offered to beat that record,” said Tom Ratcliffe, manager and friend to Kimani, who died of pneumonia in 2012 at the age of 40.
Meanwhile, Lornah Kiplagat's winning time for the women's division of 30:32 has held since 2002 - and no one has come within 19 seconds of beating it. She said that she hopes someone does beat her time because, in her words, records are meant to be broken.
“It’s a great idea. It’s also an honor,” said Kiplagat. “Such a huge bonus clearly shows that this is a special record and it will be extremely tough to break it."
In the event that more than one person breaks the record in a division, only the first across the finish line will receive the bonus. A prize purse totaling $140,000 across all four divisions is also offered.
Registration for the largest running event in the U.S. will be available between March 15 and March 31. Members of the Atlanta Track Club will receive a guaranteed spot and other registrants will be awarded by lottery.