There was good evidence to believe that the Atlanta Track Club’s hiring of Rich Kenah as its executive director this past February would pay dividends — just as the Asics Los Angeles Marathon’s hiring of former ATC Executive Director Tracey Russell to its newly created position of CEO has pumped new life into that organization as well.
As a two-time 800-meter bronze medalist at the World Championships (once indoors, once outdoors), the former Georgetown track star and long-time partner at Global Athletics, the Boston-based firm that stages top flight indoor and outdoor track meets and represents a stable of world-class athletes, brought a wealth of presentational experience and new perspectives to Atlanta. And it has been clear that Kenah hit the job running, as in his short tenure the ATC brand has noticeably broadened. Now, another innovation has been created which challenges both top class and average speed runners alike.
Called “Conquer Cardiac Hill”, the new promotion is sponsored by Atlanta-based running apparel and footwear manufacturer Mizuno USA. The idea is to see who can run up the iconic Cardiac Hill on Peachtree Road the fastest during the October 26th Atlanta 10 Miler, a second year event on the ATC schedule.
Of course, Cardiac Hill is one of the most famous hills in the world of road racing. The defining feature of the ATC’s flagship AJC Peachtree Road Race on July 4th, Cardiac Hill is in line with the sport’s other famed rises like the Boston Marathon’s fabled Heartbreak Hill; Spokane’s Doomsday Hill at the Lilac Bloomsday 12K; and Davenport, Iowa’s Brady Street hill at the Bix 7 Road Race. Now Cardiac Hill will have to be negotiated at the seven mile mark of the Atlanta 10 Miler.
In its new promotion, ATC and Mizuno will test runners’ speed up Cardiac Hill, then recognize those whose times prove fastest. Not only will a Mizuno running kit go to the fastest man and woman, along with the title of King and Queen of Cardiac Hill, but the next 100 fastest runners up the bear that rises some 12 stories in less than a mile will also be recognized with a prize rivaling the coveted top 1000 mug given at the AJC Peachtree Road Race. All participants that Conquer Cardiac Hill and finish the Atlanta 10 Miler will be encouraged to visit the Mizuno area at Atlantic Station after the event to learn their hill climb time and share their result on social media for an additional chance to win.
“Anyone who has participated in the AJC Peachtree Road Race knows about Cardiac Hill. Rather than fear this challenging Atlanta landmark, we want our Atlanta 10 Miler participants to celebrate their ability to conquer it,” said Rich Kenah, executive director of Atlanta Track Club. “With that in mind, Atlanta Track Club will make sure this portion of their race experience is one participants look forward to for years to come.”
As everyone knows, in recent years there has been a disconnect between the front of the pack at major road races and the average runners in their wake. With this new challenge, though not big in financial terms, a connecting thread will be sown through at least a portion of the field front to back. For this alone Kenah, the Atlanta Track Club and Mizuno should be applauded for their creativity.