Even on a wet running surface, Ty McCormack didn’t slip.
McCormack, a 2010 North Hall graduate, was the first Georgian to cross the finish line for a third consecutive year at the Peachtree Road Race on Thursday in Atlanta.
The 20-year-old finished 32nd overall out of about 60,000 participants with a personal record time of 30:08 on the 6.2-mile course, shaving 23 seconds off his 2012 performance.
“I’m glad that I was able to defend my title and bring it back to Gainesville,” McCormack said.
“It’s great to be able to beat the Atlanta runners and bring some recognition to (my hometown).”
A light rain fell throughout the 44th annual race. The precipitation kept temperatures cooler than in many previous years, but it also created challenges on a course that had already absorbed a heavy amount of rain in the hours prior to the competition.
“It was sprinkling and it rained the night before, so the roads were pretty slick,” McCormack said. “On the positive side, it wasn’t 85 degrees like it was in the past.
“But when you’re running for 30 minutes, your clothes are getting pretty wet. I think overall it probably slowed things down a little.”
Mosinet Geremew, 21, of Ethiopa won this year’s competition with a time of 28:07.
It’s now been more than two decades since an American man finished first — Ed Eyestone did it in 1991 with a time of 28:34 — but that isn’t stopping McCormack from dreaming of reclaiming the title for the United States.
McCormack has only been involved in competitive running for the past five years, and he’s confident he can make big strides in the years to come. He did exactly that over the last three years at Clemson University, where his time of 13:52 in the 5K was fastest in program history among American runners and the best at the school since 1987.
“I’m only 20 years old right now, and most runners don’t reach their prime until 25 or even older,” McCormack said.
“I want to be the first American to win (the Peachtree Road Race since Eyestone). ... I don’t think there’s ever been a runner from Georgia who’s (finished as) the top professional runner.”
McCormack graduated from Clemson in May, after completing his bachelor’s in international business in only three years. He plans to pursue a pair of master’s degrees this fall at Auburn University, where he will also be able to finish his athletic eligibility.
If the former North Hall standout continues to improve as a runner, the business world may ultimately become a fallback career option. McCormack expects to seek an Olympic bid in 2016 or 2020 and hopes to one day sign a professional running contract.
Even if a career as a runner never pans out, McCormack said it’s hard to imagine life without the Peachtree Road Race. He’s been participating in the event for about 10 years, following in the footsteps of his mother, who started in the 1980s.
McCormack ran this year’s race with his mother and sister, while his father and brother cheered them toward the finish. Afterward, the group gathered at Piedmont Park to commemorate the event with family photos.
“I have a pretty deep family connection to this race; it’s a big tradition,” McCormack said. “The fourth of July wouldn’t be the same without the Peachtree Road Race. Just to be able to go out there and compete well, running alongside the pros and everything, is truly an honor.”