There are a lot of reasons to celebrate on the 4th of July. It’s a great time to remember our country and the efforts given by so many over the years to keep America free and full of opportunities. This time of patriotism can be celebrated in many ways – from reflection on our liberties, spending time cooking out with family and friends, watching fantastic public fireworks displays (or those done right at home), and many other activities. And here in Atlanta there is one more tradition that happens every 4th of July – the Peachtree Road Race.

This year represented a milestone for the Peachtree – it was the 50th year of the race. The race started out with just over 100 runners in 1970, and it has grown to 60,000 runners making it the world’s largest 10K race – or 6.2 miles. The race goes down Peachtree Street through midtown Atlanta, with spectators cheering the runners along the way and patriotic displays seen throughout the race.

I’ve run the race 17 years now, and there are several others here at Burton that regularly participate as well. There are so many things I look forward to seeing every year. I always enjoy the large U.S. flag at the starting line and national anthem, the bands playing music and flags waving throughout the race, the patriotic costumes worn by many of the runners, and the feeling of community and national pride that accompanies the entire event. This year being the 50th running brought even more recognition to the race and brought back a lot of memories.

A lot of people wonder why someone would get up before 5 am, drive to downtown Atlanta, and run 6 miles on a holiday. It’s something different for everyone. Some do it for the competition. Others do it for the famous Peachtree T-shirt. But most probably do it for a similar reason – it’s become a tradition and a celebration of the 4th of July. There’s just something about running a race that brings family and friends together, even those you may just meet the morning of the race. That and the sense of accomplishment afterwards are the things that keep bringing me back year after year.

I hope everyone enjoyed a great 4th of July and all the different celebrations this year. So, Happy 50th to the Peachtree Road Race, and here’s hoping for many more!