The Peachtree Road Race has been an integral part of July 4 for Ty McCormack ever since he was born. His mother has been running the race for more than 30 years.
He first ran it at the age of 12.
“It was always a rite of passage in our family,” McCormack said. “You turn 12 and you sign up for the Peachtree.”
These days, the 21-year-old McCormack is a standard-setter. The 2010 North Hall High graduate has been the first Georgian to cross the finish line in each of the past three Peachtree races. His latest came in 30 minutes, 8 seconds on a wet course at the 2013 event.
He has improved his time each year and said he’s hoping for his first overall top-25 finish in the 10K run this Friday. His training this school year at Auburn gives him confidence in that regard.
“I’m much more in shape,” McCormack said. “I’m much better than I was a year ago.”
He will be running along with his mother, two brothers and sister this year. The group goes down the night before to eat a good meal, stay close by and avoid having to wake up too early before the morning race.
McCormack said that fewer Kenyans being registered for the race makes it more realistic that an American could prevail, which he said would be “poetic justice” on Independence Day.
As much as he is hoping to crack the top 25 and make it four years in a row as the top Peachtree runner from Georgia, McCormack said his main focus is continuing to prepare himself well for his final season of eligibility at Auburn.
“I’m not going to be trying to win the race,” McCormack said. “Not yet.”
He’s in the most intense portion of his offseason training with an eye toward being in peak condition for the NCAA Championships in November.
He graduated in three years with a business degree from Clemson, where he previously competed in cross country and track and field. In the fall, McCormack won the Crimson Classic (24:26.99) hosted by Alabama and the Georgia State Invitational (25:20.64), both 8Ks, while in graduate school at Auburn. McCormack collected his first All-America honors at the NCAA cross country meet, taking 40th in 30:45.4, second-best among Southeastern Conference runners.
“That was a huge deal,” he said. “I was able to take it to the next level.”
But he redshirted the outdoor track and field season in the spring, meaning he will be a redshirt senior with eligibility in cross country and both indoor and outdoor track in 2014-15.
Even in a redshirt campaign, McCormack was able to compete a few times in the spring. A highlight was a 28:45.23 in a 10K, good for third place in his section against pros and other college runners, in the Payton Jordan Invitational at Stanford. It would have been a school record at Clemson and was part of a bittersweet spring for him.
“It was a little frustrating watching the NCAA and SEC meets. I knew I could have been competitive,” McCormack said. “It’s an investment, and you have to be patient.”
He is hoping that patience pays off during the upcoming school year, his final one. He will finish a pair of master’s degrees — finance and business administration — while hoping to close his collegiate running career strong.
McCormack is focusing more on the opportunities his studies have opened for him, but he still has hopes of doing some professional running and having sponsors.
His ultimate goal is training to run in the 2016 Olympics in Brazil.
But McCormack has more immediate plans. They involve Friday morning. It’s July 4, the Peachtree Road Race, a family tradition.