Elite High School Division Added to AJC Peachtree Road Race

ATLANTA — April 4, 2024 — For the first time in its 55-year history, the Atlanta Journal-Constitution Peachtree Road Race will feature an Elite High School Division, giving the best young distance runners in Georgia the chance to experience professional road racing first-hand at the iconic July 4 event.

The top 20 boys and top 20 girls from the classes of 2025, 2026 and 2027 residing in the state of Georgia who accept the invitation from Atlanta Track Club will not only line up next to the world's best professional athletes at the Lenox Square start line but will also be treated as professionals themselves.

The inaugural high school division was the brainchild of Sarah Burwell, a two-time Atlanta Track Club All-Metro selection when she competed for Walton High School who now runs for Georgia Tech. Burwell, who has frequently participated in the Peachtree, brought the idea to Eric Heintz, director of performance programming for the Club.

Heintz said he was easily persuaded. "As I looked at all of the populations we served, it stood out that we were not highlighting the immense talent that Georgia has in the high school ranks," he said. "These athletes are the future of Peachtree, so why not put them front and center, and celebrate their achievements and potential with the very best in the world?"

In addition to running the Peachtree, participating athletes will receive a racing uniform and shoes from adidas and be given the opportunity to engage with the professional competitors in the hotel hospitality suite, at the pre-race banquet and press events, and in the warm-up area on race morning. Athletes in the Elite High School Division will also begin the race at the front of the main field.

Athletes who were named to the 2023 All-Metro Cross Country Team will receive automatic invitations. Exceptional performances at high-level cross country meets in 2023, such as Atlanta Track Club's Wingfoot XC Classic, and top performances on the track at 1,600 meters or 3,200 meters, will also earn consideration.

Among the athletes who have already accepted an invitation are All-Metro honorees Riley Comstock (Harrison High School), Jameson Pifer (Collins Hill High School) and 2023 GAPPS State Cross Country Champion Davis Drake (Johnson Ferry Christian Academy) for the boys and Zahara Bernal (Pace Academy), Caroline Rogers (Marist School) and 2023 GHSA 3A State Cross Country Champion Weezie Moore (Wesleyan School).

"It'll be really cool to run this race with some other fast kids," said Bernal, the 2023 GHSA 4A state cross country champion. "And, the chance to spend time with the professional runners is exciting. Maybe some of them were in my shoes once, and maybe I could be in their shoes someday."