They came to Atlanta from 48 states and Washington D.C. to push themselves to exhaustion in temperatures better suited for sitting under a shade tree than lacing up running shoes.
They didn’t suffer alone. More than 60,000 new friends suffered too.
They came to run in The Atlanta Journal-Constitution Peachtree Road Race, the world’s largest 10k race. Unlike last year’s cool 62-degree 7:30 a.m. starting-time temperatures, this year’s temperatures were around 74 degrees with sock-soaking humidity.
“There’s no way it was 74 degrees,” U.S. runner Ed Moran said.
How hot was it?
It was so hot even the winner forgot about the $25,000 in prize money for a short time. “It’s just too hot,” Kenya’s Sammy Kitwara said. He took $15,000 as the first-place finisher and a $10,000 bonus in the Professional Road Running Organization circuit.
Kitwara and countryman Mathew Kisorio ran shoulder to shoulder for most of the last three miles of the 6.2-mile journey through Atlanta. Kitwara outsprinted him to the finish line to post a winning time of 28 minutes, 5 seconds for his second victory in three years in the event.
Ethiopia’s Werknesh Kidane won the women’s race, topping the field in an unofficial time of 31:22.
Ben True was the top U.S. men’s finisher, taking that title from Moran. True picked up an additional $10,000 for that distinction, though the heat and humidity took a mental and physical toll.
“It was quite unbearable at the end,” said True, who was competing in the event for the first time. “But it’s a great course, phenomenal.”
The medical tents were busier than in previous year’s races, but no serious injuries have been reported. Some Runners are experiencing cramping and dehydration.