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Atlanta Track Club News
1/11/2024 by Barbara Huebner

Seven New Board Members Introduced at Annual Town Hall

At Tuesday night's Annual Meeting and Town Hall, Atlanta Track Club members were introduced to seven new members of the Board of Directors, a new start/finish location for Publix Atlanta Marathon Weekend - and the physiological effects of training at altitude.

The Board, which now numbers 24 members, offers "a good set of experience and skills to bring to the table," said Kara Finley, the outgoing chair. She will be succeeded by Erika Jolly Brookes, who has been on the Board since 2016.

The Club's strong roster of new Board members:

  • Greg Bluestein, a top political reporter for the Atlanta Journal-Constitution who has run every Atlanta Journal-Constitution Peachtree Road Race since he was in college.
  • Chris Brown, head track and field coach at Clayton State University and a four-time Olympic medalist in the 4x400-meter relay for the Bahamas.
  • Charles Edwards, who leads the coaching practice at Jackson Spalding, a public relations and marketing firm. As a runner, he has logged almost 2,500 miles since New Year's Day 2017.
  • Trisha Hardy, VP of Human Resources for Children's Healthcare of Atlanta who in a previous role there worked to reduce childhood obesity in Georgia. She says that running helps her reground on what's important in her life.
  • Doug Shipman, who has served as Atlanta City Council president since 2022, says he enjoys easy runs with his daughters along Freedom Park Trail and early morning workouts on the BeltLine during marathon training.
  • Robin Triplett, who has been with Coca-Cola Company since 2011 and was named Vice President, Integrated Marketing Experiences in April 2023. She has completed all six World Marathon Majors.
  • David Zafft, the Chief Financial Officer at Organics Management Holdings, LLC, whose favorite runs are weekdays with his kids and weekends with his friends.

As for Publix Atlanta Marathon Weekend, it will get a new look this year with the start, finish and Expo moving to The Home Depot Backyard at Mercedes-Benz Stadium. A new 5K course will be offered but, other than the area around the start and finish, the full and half marathon courses will remain largely the same.

The courses, but not the races themselves: For the first time, the marathon will offer the option of a two-person relay, and half marathon participants may choose whether to run the first 13.1 miles or the second 13.1 miles of the marathon course.

In addition to the Publix Atlanta Health & Fitness Expo, the Publix Atlanta Kids Marathon will also move to The Home Depot Backyard.

Registration for all Publix Atlanta Marathon Weekend events on February 24 and 25 is open.

In other race news, it was announced that Wave Standards for the 55th Running of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution Peachtree Road Race will be released on Monday, February 12.

A highlight of the meeting was a guest appearance by two new Atlanta Track Club Elite members, Rob Heppenstall and Laurie Barton, via live video from Albuquerque, N.M. The team is spending the month of January at an altitude camp, where members are adjusting to seeing slower training times on their watches because of the thin air.

Barton, the 2021 NCAA runner-up indoors and outdoors at 800 meters, explained how it feels.

"To put it simply, it's a lot more difficult because we're just operating the same but under low oxygen conditions," said Barton, who competed for Clemson University. "So, it's basically helping train our bodies to produce more red blood cells so we can transfer oxygen more efficiently … it looks like a couple weeks of just dying and running slower, getting home and taking three-hour naps. But it really does make a huge difference once we come back to normal oxygen levels."

Added Heppenstall, who represents Canada and won 1,500-meter silver at the 2023 Pan American Games, said the altitude boost will make it "a lot easier" to put himself into a good position during sea-level races "when the paces start to get a little more difficult and the race starts to become more a war of attrition."

Rich Kenah, the Club's CEO, announced another kind of boost - in membership, which at more than 33,000 is rebounding and approaching the Club's all-time high of the almost-34,000 it reached just before COVID-19 upended Atlanta and the running industry.

"We feel very good about our progress against our mission," said Kenah. "We see our membership as reflective of the number of people that are getting out running and walking every day."