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Local high school standouts to compete at race
by Greg Oshust
July 02, 2013 03:35 PM | 1964 views | 0 0 comments | 48 48 recommendations | email to a friend | print
A number of high school cross country and track standouts will be among the 60,000 runners lining up in front of Lenox Square Mall in Buckhead Thursday morning to participate in the Peachtree Road Race.

The young harriers will take on the challenge of tackling the 10K (6.2 mile) course that stretches from Lenox Mall to the finish line at Piedmont Park in Midtown.

It’s a longer distance than usual for the high school runners, who normally run a 5K (3.1-mile) course during cross country season in the fall.

Marist rising senior Michael Thurston – running in his fifth Peachtree — said the additional distance is no big deal for him.

“It is a longer distance, but the effort doesn’t change [from the 5K distance] as much as you think it does,” Thurston said. “So, it’s not too big of a difference. I’m really better at longer distances, anyway.”

Thurston, last year’s Class AAAA state boys’ cross country champion, has had his share of success at Peachtree as well.

He cracked the top 100 overall finishers with a 98th-place showing and a 10K personal-best time of 34 minutes, 36 seconds.

“I was very happy with that, especially in the middle of summer training,” Thurston said. “This year, I want to get as close to 33 minutes as possible – that would be nice.”

St. Pius X rising senior Austin Sprague – the AAA state boys’ cross country champion as well as the state track title-holder in the 1,600 and 3,200-meter runs – said he enjoys tackling the extra distance of the Peachtree course.

“I prefer to run a 10K over a 5K,” said Sprague, who is running in his fourth Peachtree. “I kind of look at myself as a distance runner – so the longer the distance for me, the better it is for me. So, I really enjoy running the longer distances. I feel like you get to assess yourself more, you get to push the limits more.”

Sprague said he is looking to improve on last year’s time of 34 minutes, 56 seconds, good enough for a 110th-place overall finish.

“I want to run a minute faster, that’s my biggest goal,” Sprague said. “I didn’t train too hard for this race, because I’m in the middle of my base phase for cross country in the fall. So, I just go out there and do the best that I can. I think a good goal for me, in my training, would be a sub-34 [minute] time.”

Westminster rising sophomore Charlotte Folinus – the AA state champion in the 3,200 run and third-place finisher in the 1,600 in track as well as a fourth-place finisher in the state cross country meet last season — is taking part in her third Peachtree Road Race.

For Folinus, who ran 47:17 a year ago, running Peachtree is more about the experience than the competition.

“I run it more for fun,” Folinus said. “I’m running in a faster start wave this year, but I’m not going to be more competitive about it. It’s just a fun experience to go out and celebrate the Fourth of July.”

Recent Marist graduate Jack Leahey will also be in the field of runners and will try to improve on his time of 35:00 of a year ago.

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