The world’s largest and most-famous 10k, the Peachtree Road Race is set for the 50th running on Thursday, July 4, 2019. Georgia State’s roots are as deep and wide as any organization in the city to the Peachtree’s founding in 1970. Check out how serious and inclusive that event was to Georgia State faculty, staff and students in that first race and that first decade. And, GSU has had a men's winner of it. In 2015, two GSU runners finished among the top 15 women.
The “Peachtree’s Papa,” as the Atlanta Journal-Constitution called him, is former Georgia State cross country coach and Dean of Men, the late Tim Singleton. This will be the sixth race without the legendary Singleton, who passed away on July 31, 2013, at age 76.
Singleton, a 1964 co-founder of the Atlanta Track Club, organized the first six races with massive support from Georgia State personnel, including full-time GSU staff and students. The GSU staff provided as much, if not more, support and manpower than the fledging Track Club could. Singleton, also the Chairman of the Road Race Committee of the Atlanta Track Club, had previously started an Atlanta marathon race before deciding in 1969 on the July 4th 10k race.
He mapped out a course from Buckhead to downtown Atlanta, the Equitable Building, conveniently just blocks from his GSU Office. Later, the finish moved on to Woodruff Park, now straddling the GSU campus. Woodruff Park was used not too many years ago in the filming of Anchorman 2, The Legend Continues movie. When the size grew, it moved to Piedmont Park.
That first race of 110 runners was organized mainly by Singleton and GSU staff. People like Bruce LaBudde, a former GSU star runner
The race tripled from year one to year two with 330 entrants the second time, which was the first time Singleton created the finisher’s t-shirt. The 9:30 a.m. start of the first race coincided to finish downtown with the start of the July 4 parade.
In those early years, a GSU runner, Wayne Roach, won the 1974 race and a GSU faculty member, Gillian Valk, won the 1972 female race as the top finisher. Roach, who won as a GSU sophomore cross country runner, owns the distinction of being the last actual Atlantan to win the race.
After six races, Singleton left the GSU administration in 1976 for a job in Texas and turned the race over full time to the blossoming Atlanta Track Club, which has grown the event to 60,000 runners with prize money over $100,000. The race moved its finish to Piedmont Park in 1978.
Georgia State’s involvement remains steady. In 2014, 87-year old Dr. Charles Fallis continued to finish. Chuck and Ann Speight have run more than 40 Peachtree Races. Billy Brackin continues to finish high, only now in the over 65-division. Andrew Letherby had a top-10 finish in the last 10 years and
In 2015, Janel Blancett was the ninth female finisher (121st overall finisher) and Stella Christoforou was the 14th female finisher (227th overall finisher).
More recently, Sammi Donovan finished in sixth (37:36) and Hannah Stefanoff in seventh (37:50) in 2018.
If you are Georgia State student, alum, or just a fan, let us know what number Peachtree this will be for you. We are sure that plenty of members of the Panther Nation will be making the run down Peachtree Street on THERS-day!