ATLANTA - July 4, 2022 -- The 53rd Running of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution Peachtree Road Race heralded the iconic event's return to its traditional one-day July 4 format for the first time since 2019. Almost 50,000 runners and walkers took part in the race in person or virtually. And despite temperatures in the mid-70s with a soaking humidity in the mid-90s at the start of the elite races, it was a day for fast - and even record-breaking - times.
Winning the women's footrace was Senbere Teferi of Ethiopia, barely edging Kenya's Irine Cheptai at the tape. Both women were given the time of 30:49, tied for the fourth-fastest time in race history. Becoming a two-time winner of the Peachtree in the men's footrace was Rhonex Kipruto of Kenya, who broke the tape in the men's open division in 27:26, the fifth-fastest time since the Peachtree began in 1970.
In the Shepherd Center Wheelchair Division, Daniel Romanchuk won for the fifth-consecutive year, in 18:38, tied for third-fastest in Peachtree history. But it was women's wheelchair winner Susannah Scaroni who took home the entire $53,000 bonus - offered by organizers in honor of the race's 53rd Running - for her winning time of 21:14, which broke the course record by 14 seconds. Had any of the others also broken the record, the bonus would have been split; instead, it was the biggest payday of Scaroni's career.
"I was picturing myself back in 2019 and I was trying to race my former self, because I was in that pack," said Scaroni of the three women who chased after the bonus that year won by rival Manuela Schär. "I know how hard that went, so I went as hard as I could today."
In the women's footrace, Kenya's Mary Munanu pushed the pace for the first two miles, with Ethiopian Biruktayit Degefa Eshetu taking over the next mile. The large pack went through 5K in 15:10, with Brigid Kosgei - the 2019 winner and course record-holder - asserting herself soon after. Going with her were Teferi, Cheptai and Rosemary Wanjiru; Wanjiru would soon drop back by the turn onto 10th Street toward the finish, but Fancy Chemutai would briefly rejoin the group. In a fierce sprint to the finish, Teferi prevailed over Cheptai, with Kosgei third in 30:57.
The top American was Annie Frisbie, 10th, in 32:22.
"I'm very happy I did well," said Teferi, the 5K world record-holder for a women-only race who has not lost on the roads this year, through a translator. "It was really hot out there, so that made it hard to run and I'm not really good at handling the heat so I tried my best. I came in thinking I would win and also break the record, and with God's help I won and next time I will break the record."
Kipruto took command of the race from the outset, leading a pack through the first mile in 4:38 and whittling the contenders down to four by 5K (13:27) - himself, Leonard Barsoton, Mathew Kimeli and Kibowatt Kandie. He would open up a lead again just before the four-mile mark, and go on to win by 8 seconds, with Kandie runner-up in 27:34 (the sixth-fastest time ever here) and Jemal Yimer third in 27:49.
"It was very nice," said Kipruto, who holds both the world and course records "The competition was real tough."
The day's winners were greeted on the awards stage by Atlanta Mayor Andre Dickens, who experienced the Peachtree for the first time as Mayor. And while a broken foot prevented him from running, he was able to welcome participants and serve as official starter of Wave A before his duties at the finish line.
"This day means a lot for Atlanta," he said. "We're on display across the world."
Finishing as top American and fifth overall in his debut at the distance was Conner Mantz, whose time of 28:04 was just one second shy of the fastest time ever run by an American here (Craig Virgin, in 1981).
"I tried to kick it in and I ended up passing two athletes," said Mantz, who was chasing the American mark. "I wanted to put myself out there, and I did. I think I got the best out of myself today, and that I enjoyed."
The top Georgian finishers were 18-year-old Edward Blaha of Atlanta, a recent Atlanta Track Club All-Metro honoree and Pace Academy graduate, in 31:11, 24th overall, and 24-year-old Emma Grace Hurley of Brookhaven, Georgia, and Atlanta Track Club Elite, 14th, in 33:36.
Bill Thorn, 91, became the only person to finish every Atlanta Journal-Constitution Peachtree Road Race since the event began in 1970. Thorn, 91, did the race virtually. The oldest finisher was 97-year-old Betty Lindberg, who finished in 2:37:53.
In another return to the race's beloved traditions, the T-shirt design wasn't revealed until the first runner crossed the finish line. Winning the annual design contest was Tony Lombardo of Tallahassee, Florida, a former resident of Johns Creek, with his submission titled "Sweet Americana."
"It's a great feeling to be a part of something bigger than ourselves, and that much sweeter when it's a part of the world's largest 10K," he said.