By Ken Sugiura, firstname.lastname@example.org
One of the most integral elements of the AJC Peachtree Road Race spent Wednesday morning in a meeting in Indianapolis.
The Very Rev. Sam Candler, whose holy water blessings have cooled and delighted Peachtree runners since 1999, was not at his traditional post in front of the Episcopal Cathedral of St. Philip in Buckhead because he was at his denomination’s national general convention.
It took four priests – Wallace Marsh, George Maxwell, Thee Smith and Carolynne Williams – to replace him.
When they realized the conflict, “we knew we were going to sub for him,” Marsh said. “We knew how much he wanted to be out here because everyone loves it.”
Candler began blessing runners in 1999, when the race happened to fall on a Sunday. Rather than object to the disruption, Candler chose to bring service out to the church’s lawn and began his tradition of tossing holy water and offering blessings upon runners, many of whom veer to the church’s side of Peachtree Road to receive them. He wanted so badly to participate this year, he even looked into flying in from Indianapolis for the race and then flying back, said Judy Johnson, Candler’s executive assistant.
His advice to his backups?
“He said, ‘Bless everyone, smile and have a good time,” Marsh said.
Thorn continues streak
With his granddaughter by his side, Tyrone’s Bill Thorn ran and walked his way down to Piedmont Park to finish his 43rd Peachtree and maintain his status as the only person to finish each Peachtree. Thorn, 81, later was asked to share a few words with finishers in the park from the concert stage.
Thorn, the track and cross country coach at Landmark Christian School in Fairburn, shared his wisdom that the key to longevity is consistency. Thorn still exercises seven days a week. Running with granddaughter Kenzie Thrasher, Thorn finished in about 79 minutes.
“That’s nowhere near what I used to do, but I’ve kind of got to settle for that now,” Thorn said.