The Peachtree Road Race, the world’s largest 10K, is this morning in Atlanta. Here’s a look at two local runners taking part in the July 4 tradition.
‘HEALTHY ENOUGH’ TO RUN: The first time Billy Hulsey watched the Peachtree Road Race, it was on television while in a hospital bed.
It was 1981, and Hulsey had Crohn’s disease, which he almost died of.
“Ever since then, I had hoped I could get healthy enough to do it,” said Hulsey, a 54-year-old Gainesville resident.
While it was his goal to race in the Atlanta 10K, he wasn’t optimistic he would reach that milestone. But 21 years after his initial thoughts of running the Peachtree, he began training in August 2002.
Hulsey ran his first Peachtree Road Race in 2003 and has been in every Peachtree since 2006. Friday will mark his ninth in a row and 10th overall.
One of the elements he appreciates most is the support of the crowd.
“It’s kind of like a 6.2-mile party,” Hulsey said. “It’s a lot of fun doing it.”
During the year, he eats one boiled egg white at 7:30 a.m. every day and a ‘Red Delicious’ apple at 9 a.m. On race days, he only eats “Gu,” a packet of gel to help with endurance sports, before a race. He runs some other races occasionally.
“This is the main one, and it forces me to train,” Hulsey said. “It motivates me to run, which is good for my health.”
When he begins his training each year, he eats mostly carbohydrates and chicken for protein. Hulsey also eats almost no sweets and drinks mainly black coffee and water while running three to four times per week. This year, he started running every Saturday morning with the Atlanta Track Club in Suwanee.
He told his wife his goal is to one day be 80 years old and run the Peachtree in 80 minutes that year. The race will always have extra meaning because of when it first caught his attention.
“That’s the main thing that really makes it special to me,” Hulsey said.
MORRIS READY FOR NO. 39: Nath Morris of Gainesville can still vividly remember how he found out he would be running his first Peachtree Road Race. His father, Dale Morris, wrote him a letter telling him he signed him up for the 1976 race.
Nath Morris, the chairman of the Hall County Schools Board of Education, hasn’t missed one since then, including competing in 11 with his father, and will be running it for the 39th time Friday.
“It’s just tradition,” he said. “I don’t know what the Fourth of July be without going to Atlanta and running down Peachtree Street.”
Morris’ father founded the Gainesville Track Club and ran one Boston Marathon.
Billy Glosson will be running the Peachtree for the 33rd time with Morris, who is 49 years old and runs year-round.
Morris’ wife, Joy, and one of his daughters, Megan, are running with him this year. Another daughter of his has done the Peachtree seven times.
His father ran the second Peachtree Road Race, and because there wasn’t a T-shirt in the event’s first year, the father and son have all of the race’s shirts between them.
The encouragement of spectators is one of Morris’ favorite parts of running the Peachtree.
“I like the crowds, the enthusiasm,” he said. “Even if you’re not a big runner, you can go out there on adrenaline and run.”