Cobb County is usually well-represented among the top tier of runners at the Peachtree Road Race.
This year should be no different as the 43rd edition of the popular Fourth of July 10K is held at 7:30 a.m. Wednesday in Atlanta.
Local runners will make up a large share of the 65,000 participants who will navigate the 6.2-mile course along Peachtree Road in Atlanta, from the start at Lenox Square Mall in Buckhead to the finish line on 10th Street at Piedmont Park in Midtown.
The top 100 men’s and women’s finishers should once again feature a number of Cobb runners. Last year, eight of the top 100 men, and nine of the top 100 women, were area residents.
Among the top local runners competing this year is Kennesaw resident Nathan O’Connell, who finished third among Cobb runners, and was 69th among the men, last at last year’s Peachtree with a time of 33 minutes, 3 seconds.
The 20-year-old O’Connell, a rising senior at Kennesaw State, won the Gobble Jog 10K at the Marietta Square last Thanksgiving with a time of 32:23, and he also won last November’s Savannah Marathon in 2:29:05.
Another prominent local runner who will be competing Wednesday is Marietta’s Valentin Alvarez, who finished 82nd among the men last year with a time of 33:24.
Though he fell short of his goal of running under 33 minutes in last year’s Peachtree, Alvarez has high hopes of succeeding this time around.
“That’s my goal — breaking 33 minutes,” he said. “My training has been OK. I think I’m stronger than last year, though I don’t have the speed. I want to break 33 (minutes), but that will depend a lot on the weather — how hot it will be. I think I’ll be all right.”
Alvarez is coming off a strong performance at the USA Masters 8K championships for 40-and-over runners in Williamsburg, Va., back in May. He finished 17th overall and fifth in the men’s 40-44 age group with a time of 20:36.
On the women’s side, former Pope cross country and track standout Molly Schenck will try to make her mark in her second Peachtree.
Schenck, last year’s Class AAAA state girls cross country runner up who recently graduated from Pope and will be competing in cross country and track on the college level at Georgia, ran 40:34 and was fourth among Cobb women in her Peachtree debut last year.
This year, Schenck is hoping to take what she learned about the Peachtree course last year and improve on her performance.
“Last year was the first year running Peachtree for me, and I didn’t know what to expect as far as the course was concerned, so I didn’t go out too fast. I treated it like a tempo run,” Schenck said. “This year, I’m in a lot better shape, and I know the course a lot better, so I definitely want to get under 40 (minutes). Maybe even 38ish.”