ATLANTA — This year’s AJC Peachtree Road Race will once again include Betty Lindberg, a 97-year-old who vows that every Peachtree is her last, but keeps coming back.
There was a time when Betty Lindberg thought her beloved city of Atlanta had lost its mind. The crowd sweating its way down Peachtree on the 4th of July made no sense to her.
“You had a holiday,” said Lindberg. “Why get up at the crack of dawn and go running down Peachtree Road?”
Now, she’s a big part of the insanity.
In 1988, her daughter and son-in-law asked her for a ride to the starting line of the Peachtree Road Race near Lenox Mall.
“I was watching all these people come running by and I said, ‘I can do that,’” said Lindberg.
She’s only missed one Peachtree since that day.
Her passion for running has brought her world wide acclaim. Earlier this year she became the fastest women her age to run 5,000 meters, adding to her age group world record for the 800-meter run.
She jogs and runs around her neighborhood regularly and works out with a personal trainer three times a week. When she thinks of excuses not to work out she says two words -- keep moving.
It’s become her motto, the words she repeats over and over when she’s convinced that she can’t possibly run another Peachtree.
“I’m aching and hurting and it takes two hours to do it,” she said of completing the 6.2 mile run. “But you finish and on the way to the car you say, ‘now, next year I’ve got to start training earlier.’”
Family members now join her in running the Peachtree, including her grandson.
The insanity is spreading.
“I always say I’m never going to do it again,” said Lindberg. “I guess I just don’t know any better. As soon as I get across that finish line, all the aches and pains just disappear.”
It will no doubt happen again at the finish line of this year’s Peachtree, and then 97-year-old Betty Lindberg will start making plans to run next year.