When: 6:30 a.m.
On TV: NBC
Running the Peachtree Road Race is the one constant in the competitive life of Ty McCormack.
He was there tagging along with his mother, Kelly, during the world’s largest 10-kilometer race through the streets of Atlanta when he was just 12. Now as a semi-professional runner, McCormack, a 23-year-old North Hall High graduate, is back looking to claim top honors for runners from Georgia for the fifth time since 2011.
Now a college graduate and working as a financial planner in Orlando, Fla., McCormack will be back at the starting line Monday morning in Atlanta. This will be the first time he’ll run with the elite A Division, approximately 25-40 runners to start first after the wheelchair divisions, and be eligible for any prize money he earns as an athlete, no longer bound to an NCAA institution.
“It’s so great to get back home and run the Peachtree,” said McCormack, who will run this year’s race with his mother, girlfriend and two of his siblings. “This is going to be the one race I keep on my calendar every year until I’m old.”
McCormack has a performance record in the Peachtree as strong as anyone. In 2014, he ran a blistering time of 29 minutes, 25 seconds for a ninth-place overall spot in the Independence Day race. Each year from 2011-2014, his state-best winning time improved, starting with his 31:01 in 2011, 30:30 in 2012 (fourth American overall), and 30:08 in 2013.
Since he’s working full time now, McCormack said it’s easier to focus on his performance at the Peachtree, rather than having to wedge it into a busy schedule.
The feeling that comes with finishing top in the state, according to McCormack, is just as fulling than any of his other major accomplishments.
Also in the past five years, McCormack has been a three-time winner at the prestigious Penn Relays in Philadelphia, took part in the 2015 World University Games, and, in 2016, took a crack at US Olympic qualifying by running in the Los Angeles Marathon.
McCormack is signed to a contract with Saucony, which provides him with ample running gear as a well as a stipend to cover expenses. McCormack said in the last year, he’s pocketed $8,000 in prize money during races. That’s a nice supplement to his professional day job.
“Any money I earn, I invest or use for travel,” said McCormack.
Now eligible for prize money, the Atlanta Track Club is putting McCormack up as one of its elite athletes for a night’s stay at the Ritz Carlton in the Buckhead section of north Atlanta.
Still, the glitz and glamour of the spotlight is not the reason McCormack comes home to run the Peachtree Road Race. It’s the time spent with family and friends. His mother is the matriarch behind this tradition as she approaches her 30th time running in the Peachtree, according to McCormack.
“It’s definitely a sentimental event for me, such a great spectacle,” McCormack added. “It’s probably my all-time favorite race.”
From his four previous state-championship performances at the Peachtree, McCormack said he has four ‘peach blossom branch’ glass figures to signify his accomplishment.
The former runner for Clemson University and Auburn University said his mother has assembled those along with all his memorabilia in his bedroom of their Gainesville home.
The wins are not the only memories that McCormack has ingrained from the normally sticky-hot race early in the morning on Independence Day.
His first race as a 12-year-old, McCormack remembers having to be helped by his mother to the finish line after becoming sick from eating a burrito from Moe’s during the race, then drinking a Monster energy drink also before the finish line.
Then in 2011, McCormack fondly remembers settling in for dessert at the Cheesecake Factory the night before running a state-best time of around a 5-minute mile the next morning.
“Every year I go down there, I see about 50 people I know,” said McCormack.