Your Guide to Publix Atlanta Marathon Weekend
Records, national titles, prize bonuses and a chance to make
history are all on the menu as Publix
Atlanta Marathon Weekend offers a feast of fitness for all ages this
Saturday and Sunday at Centennial Olympic Park and through the historic streets
Clear skies are expected both days, with temperatures at the
start of the race expected to be in the mid- 50s.
It all kicks off indoors, however - at the Publix Atlanta
Marathon Expo at the Georgia Aquarium, where participants in the marathon, half
marathon and 5K can pick up their race numbers in the Oceans Ballroom from 9
a.m.-6 p.m. on Friday and Saturday. There, they can get revved up for their
race with a stop at the live stage, which will feature hints on course strategy
from Atlanta Track Club coaches, a trio of live podcasts, a Meet the Elites
panel hosted by Olympian Carrie Tollefson, and a Run Culture Conversation
headlined by Alison Mariella Desir, author of "Running While Black."
Participants will also get a chance to meet Pete the Peach
(10 a.m.-2:45 p.m. on Friday, 1-5 p.m. on Saturday), sample free BodyArmor from
Coca-Cola and beer from Monday Night Brewing and get an exclusive opportunity
to purchase the adidas UltraBoost Light, a just-unveiled shoe that won't be
available in stores until March 3.
Visitors who need a quick break from the Expo action can
recharge in front of the giant Beluga whale tank on view alongside the
exhibitors' booths. (Tickets to Georgia Aquarium are not required to attend the
Expo, but discounted tickets will be available for purchase.)
On Saturday, the first race of the weekend will begin at 7:30
when the horn sounds for the Publix Atlanta 5K, which will offer participants
one of their last chances to clock a fast qualifying time for the Atlanta
Journal-Constitution Peachtree Road Race before the qualifying window closes on
With neither 2022 champion returning to defend their titles,
both the men's and women's divisions will see new winners crowned. The race
will feature several notable runners, including Desir, "Ali on the Run"
podcaster Ali Feller, and CitiusMag founder and podcaster Chris Chavez.
For the second consecutive year, the Publix Atlanta 5K will also
serve as the USATF
Masters 5 km Championships. The masters (ages 40 and up) will comprise the
first wave, with an overall and 12 age-group titles on the line for both men
and women, in addition to team competitions.
In the women's race, the top three finishers from last year
are all returning. Jessica Hruska, 42, of Dubuque, Iowa, is back to defend her
title after crossing the 2022 finish line in 18:15, while runner-up Jill
Braley, 44, competing for Atlanta Track Club, will be seeking to celebrate a
big win on her home turf. Last year, Braley followed up her second place in the
Saturday 5K by winning the masters division of the half marathon on Sunday; this
year, she is registered for the marathon.
Third last year was Michelle Rohl of Mansfield,
Pennsylvania, who at 57 recently broke the women's 55-59 indoor mile record
(5:17.70) and also holds age-group records outdoors at 800 and 1500 meters.
Also returning is 98-year-old Betty Lindberg, who last year
set a world record in the 95-99 age group when she ran 55:48.
The men's race, on the other hand, is wide open: With none
of last year's top finishers coming back, a new Top 3 is guaranteed. Among the
contenders are John Poray of Fishers, Indiana, who placed 9th here last year and
was runner-up in the 2022 USATF Masters 10 km Championships in April; Bradley
Merner of Auburn, Alabama, 5th in the masters division of the 2022
Philadelphia Marathon (2:36:10); and Benjamin Kassell of Davidson, N.C., 5th
in the masters division at last year's Atlanta Journal-Constitution Peachtree
But the over-40 runners will have to share the limelight
with youngsters, with the Publix
Atlanta Kids Marathon - a 5K, 3K and 50-meter dash - starting at 8:45 a.m.,
with a Track & Field Zone featuring "Run Jump Throw" stations open for fun
at 7:30 a.m. Among the morning's races will be one between Atlanta Track Club
mascot Pete the Peach and the Chick Fil-a Cows.
On Sunday, the Publix Atlanta Half
Marathon will be a run for the records, with some of the world's best runners
attempting to complete the fastest half marathon ever run in Georgia. This
year's elite field features five men who have run faster than the current men's
record of 1:00:36 and three women who have run faster than the women's record
of 1:08:22, so the chances are good that someone will go into the history books.
Both times were set at this event in 2022, in a driving rain.
The 2022 men's champion, Nicholas
Kosimbei, returns to defend his title, hoping to lower the Georgia record he
set last year. A 26-year-old from Kenya, Kosimbei dominated the field, winning
by more than two minutes. "I love the course in Atlanta," he said recently. "I
am looking forward to returning and my goal is to break my own course record."
Athletes in the half marathon will
be vying for a prize purse of $22,000, including a first-place prize for both
men and women of $4,000. Winners setting a course and all-time Georgia record
will receive a $2,500 bonus.
Their quest will be streamed live
on Atlanta Track Club's YouTube page, with commentary by Chavez, Tollefson and
Kosimbei has his work cut out for
him: With a personal best of 1:00:21, he will face five men who have run faster:
Kenya's Josphat Tanui (59:22), Shadrack Kimining (59:27), Geoffrey Koech
(59:36); Ethiopia's Tsegay Kidanu (59:52); and Kenya's Raymond Magut (1:00:00),
who will be looking to go sub-1 hour for the first time in his career.
Challenging all of them may be Bethwel Yegon of Kenya (1:00:57), who finished
second in the 2021 BMW Berlin Marathon.
The women's race will see a new
champion, with last year's winner, Dorcas Tuitoek, not returning. Likely
contenders to take her place on the top step of the podium are led by Helah
Kiprop of Kenya, whose personal best of 1:07:39 is the fastest in the field. A
2016 Olympian, she won last year's Copenhagen Marathon in 2:24:10. A trio of
fast countrywomen - Veronica Wanjiru (1:07:58), Vibian Chepkirui (1:08:02) and
Gladys Yator (1:08:39) - are right on her heels.
For participants looking to meet
time goals of their own, pace teams will be offered. For more information or to
sign up, visit the pace-team booth at the Expo.
Chris Nikic, the first individual
with Down syndrome to complete an IRONMAN Triathlon, will also be participating
in the half marathon. Nikic will line up as Runner 321, a new initiative
powered by adidas and Nikic's team to improve inclusion in fitness for athletes
with physical and intellectual abilities.
In addition to the showcasing a top
elite field, the half marathon serves as the largest event for the Kyle Pease Foundation, with almost 200 athletes and teammates competing.
In the Publix Atlanta Marathon,
which kicks off along with the half marathon at 7:15, a new winner will be
crowned, as neither champion from 2022 will be returning. The race, which is
sold out at 1,700 runners - 400 more than last year - will feature more than
200 participants in the Ultimate Peach, in which participants seek to complete
the marathon, Atlanta Journal-Constitution Peachtree Road Race, PNC Atlanta 10
Miler and Invesco QQQ Thanksgiving Day Half Marathon in the same calendar year.