ATLANTA - June 17, 2019 - Many of the world's top distance runners and wheelchair athletes will vie on July 4 not only for victory in the 50th Running of the AJC Peachtree Road Race, the world's largest 10K, but also for the historic event-record bonuses totaling $200,000.
In the men's footrace, 19-year-old Rhonex Kipruto of Kenya, one of the most exciting young stars in the sport, has declared his intention to break the men's Peachtree event record of 27:04, which has stood since 1996 - three years before Kipruto was born. That performance by Joseph Kimani, is the fastest road 10K ever run on American soil. Kipruto's personal best of 27:08 on the roads - the only time that has come close to Kimani's mark - came on the hills of Central Park at the UAE Healthy Kidney 10K in 2018. His eye-popping 26:50 victory in the 10,000 meters on the track at the Diamond League meet in Stockholm on May 30 is the fastest time in the world this year.
"Breaking the event record will be tough," said Kipruto. "But training is going well and I am ready to tackle the race."
Some of Kipruto's toughest competition may come from his own brother, Bravin Kiptoo. Kiptoo, just a year younger than Kipruto, won 10,000-meter gold at the African U20 Championships in April. The brothers will be joined on the start line by countryman Geoffrey Koech, whose 27:18 was the third-fastest time in the world last year.
Gabriel Geay of Tanzania, the 2016 Peachtree Champion, could also challenge. So far in 2019, Geay has won the Lilac Bloomsday 12K and Bay to Breakers 12K.
The women's footrace is headlined by 2019 Virgin Money London Marathon Champion Brigid Kosgei of Kenya, a new superstar who hasn't lost a race in almost a year. Kosgei also clocked 29:54 at the San Silvestre Vallencana 10K in Madrid last New Year's Eve, the fastest time in the world in 2018. She's aiming to break Lornah Kiplagat's 2002 event record of 30:32 in the hillier and hotter conditions of Atlanta on July 4.
"I am looking forward to the challenge," said Kosgei, who also won the 2018 Bank of America Chicago Marathon. "It would be a great honor to follow in the footsteps of a champion like Lornah and break her record."
Kosgei will be joined on the course by fellow Kenyans Fancy Chemutai and Edna Kiplagat. It will be a rematch between Kosgei and Chemutai, who placed second to Kosgei at the 2019 Aramco Houston Half Marathon but whose personal best of 1:04:52 at that distance is the second fastest in history. Kiplagat is a two-time IAAF World Marathon Champion and winner of the 2017 Boston Marathon who will be chasing her second victory at the Peachtree, which she won in 2016 in 32:24.
The race will also feature two of America's top 10K runners: Emily Sisson (Scottsdale, AZ) and Aliphine Tuliamuk (Flagstaff, AZ). Sisson will be racing for the first time since running 2:23:08 for 6th place in the 2019 London Marathon, the second fastest American debut at the distance. Tuliamuk, the 2017 Peachtree Champion, returns to Atlanta following a strong start to 2019, highlighted by podium finishes at the Rotterdam Marathon in February and the Bolder Boulder 10K in May.
The footrace fields will be aided by pacemakers for the first three miles down Peachtree, as the men's field will look to set out at 4:17 per mile pace and the women's field will attempt to average 4:55 per mile in an attempt to eclipse the event records.
Athletes in the Shepherd Center Wheelchair Division will also be competing for the $50,000 bonus, which would be the largest prize in wheelchair racing history. This year's elite field brings together the top wheelchair competitors from around the world, including both the men's and women's defending champions.
American Susannah Scaroni (Champaign, IL) is favored to defend her 2018 Peachtree title, which she won in 22:49. Earlier this month, the 28-year-old broke her own world best in winning the NYRR New York Mini 10K. She will surely be eying the Peachtree event record set by Edith Hunkeler in 2009 of 22:09.97.
"There is going to be an incredible field in the race," said Scaroni. "I'll have to give it everything I have."
Scaroni will have her work cut out for her as she battles a
field that includes Tatyana McFadden and Manuela Schar. Among them, they have
won every race here since Hunkeler set that mark a decade ago.
McFadden (Clarksville, MD), the most-decorated athlete in AJC Peachtree Road Race history, has won the race seven times and finished second to Scaroni in 2018. Schar, of Switzerland, will return to the Peachtree for the first time since winning in 2013. Schar is the winner of the last two TCS New York City Marathons and the 2019 Tokyo and Boston Marathons.
In the men's wheelchair race, Daniel Romanchuk (Urbana, IL) will be looking to break an event record that he missed by just two seconds in his victory at Peachtree last year. To win his third consecutive AJC Peachtree Road Race and leave with an extra $50,000, he'll need to cover 10K faster than 18:38, the time clocked by Saul Mendoza of Mexico in 2004.
"Saul Mendoza is an incredible racer," said Romanchuk. "It's going to be very difficult to break."
Since winning the Peachtree last year, Romanchuk has been on a tear, winning marathons in Chicago, New York, Boston and London - the last of which hosted the World Para Athletics Championships, meaning the victory brought him his first world title. In May, Romanchuk also set the world record for 5,000 meters on the track.
Romanchuk will have a strong field to push him on the Fourth. Marcel Hug of Switzerland will look to claim his second Peachtree victory, 10 years after his first. The 2009 AJC Peachtree Road Race Champion and 2016 Paralympic Gold Medalist in the marathon and 800 meters also holds the world record for 10,000 meters on the track.
Three other past Peachtree champions will also be in the mix: Ernst Van Dyk of South Africa (2001), Krige Schabort of the United States (2002, 2003, 2006, 2011, 2015) and Josh Cassidy of Canada (2010, 2013).
"I have no doubt these world-class athletes will add excitement and make history in this milestone year of the AJC Peachtree Road Race," said Rich Kenah Atlanta Track Club's Executive Director and Race Director of the AJC Peachtree Road Race. "We look forward to awarding some of fastest times ever recorded with this unprecedented bonus for both the foot racers and wheelchair athletes."
Complete elite fields will be announced the week of the race.
The 50th Running of the AJC Peachtree Road Race will take place on July 4, 2019, with the Shepherd Center Wheelchair Division beginning at 6:25 a.m. It will be broadcast live locally on WXIA-TV 11Alive and nationally on USATF.tv. A tape-delayed broadcast will air on NBC Sports at 7 p.m.
Photos by Victor Sailer