Nearly 12,000 Give Thanks for Health at Thanksgiving Day Half Marathon Events
Participants, Atlanta Track Club Give Back to Atlanta's Homeless
ATLANTA, November 24, 2016 - Approximately 12,000 runners and walkers gave thanks for their health and fitness at the Thanksgiving Day Half Marathon events. Participants, volunteers and spectators were treated to mild temperatures and mostly sunny skies. The Half Marathon, 5K, Blue Cross Blue Shield of Georgia One Mile and 50m Dash all started and finished near Turner Field.
Elite athletes from across the country chose to spend their holiday competing at the Thanksgiving Day 5K after an expanded prize purse of $12,000 was announced for the event. The winners took home $2,000 each. For the men, today's race was a rematch of the 2016 USATF 5K Championships with Sam Chelanga of Colorado Springs, Colorado, taking on Atlanta Track Club Elite's Kirubel Erassa. In the end, Chelanga outkicked Erassa again, winning in 14:21 to Erassa's 14:25.
"It's early in the season, so I don't know where I'm at; I don't know where Kirubel's at. So I pushed him," said Chelanga. "I wanted to make it fun and push myself."
The first female in the 5K was Natosha Rogers of Littleton, Colorado, who finished in 16:09. Rogers credited Furman University Junior Allie Buchalski (Alpharetta, GA), who placed second in 16:12, with pushing her to the win.
"We were neck and neck the whole time. That last mile was really pushing it for me, but I'm glad I dug deep for the win," said Rogers. "It was challenging with the hills, but I'm used to running longer races so it went by really quickly."
The sold-out Thanksgiving Day Half Marathon turned into a hometown battle between two brothers. Jared and Josh Carson started together, but Jared pulled away and bested his brother, running 1:11:33 and 1:12:47 respectively.
"My competitive edge got the best of me," admits Jared Carson, who now lives in Austin, Texas. "I've run this race three or four times now, and I always enjoy coming back and running it."
The top female in the half marathon has found success on this course before, placing first in 2014 and third in 2015. Annie Kelly, who attended Milton High School and now runs for the University of Colorado Boulder, improved upon her 2014 win (1:25:40) and broke the tape today in 1:21:19.
"I probably went out a little fast, but I was trying to break 1:20," said Kelly. "I honestly started dying around mile 11, but there was a male runner who kept telling me to run and that helped a lot."
The Thanksgiving Day Half Marathon events also provided a way for participants to give back to the homeless. Atlanta Track Club encouraged participants to bring gently used clothing and shoes to the start line or race number pick-up with a goal of collecting one ton of clothing. All items were donated to Atlanta Mission. Additionally, Atlanta Track Club donated $4,000 to Atlanta Mission.
Complete results for the 2016 Thanksgiving Day Half Marathon & 5K are posted at atlantatrackclub.org.
About Atlanta Track Club
Atlanta Track Club is a nonprofit committed to creating an active and healthy Atlanta. Through running and walking, Atlanta Track Club motivates, inspires and engages the community to enjoy a healthier lifestyle. With more than 26,000 members, Atlanta Track Club is the second largest running organization in the United States. In addition to the AJC Peachtree Road Race (peachtreeroadrace.org) - the largest 10K running event in the world, the Publix Georgia Marathon, PNC Atlanta 10 Miler and Thanksgiving Day Half Marathon, Atlanta Track Club directs more than 30 events per year. Through the support of its members and volunteers, Atlanta Track Club also maintains a number of community initiatives including organizing and promoting the Kilometer Kids youth running program to metro Atlanta youth, honoring high school cross country and track and field athletes through Atlanta Track Club's All-Metro Banquets and supporting the Grady Bicycle EMT program. For more information on Atlanta Track Club, visit atlantatrackclub.org.