Running with the best

By Kevin Eckleberry

July 2, 2014

When Jonathan Pelham gets in position at the starting line Friday morning, he’ll be surrounded by some of the best distance runners in the world.

Pelham, who’ll be a senior at LaGrange High this fall, is participating in the Peachtree Road Race, and he’ll be sub-seeded.

That means Pelham will be in the group that will take off first during the 6.2-mile race.

That group will include elite runners from across the globe, all of whom are trying to win the world’s largest 10-kilometer race.

This year’s field will include more than 60,000 runners, and there will be 23 groups of runners.

Pelham’s group will be first onto the course at 7:30 a.m., and the last group will be off at 9:05 a.m.

The fastest runners will be in the 7:30 a.m. start wave, and Pelham had to submit a time from a 5K race to earn that spot.

“It’ll be interesting to toe the line with a few Olympians, and stuff like that,” Pelham said on Wednesday before a training run at Granger Park. “It really didn’t hit me until the other day that I’m starting with these people. It’ll be fun.”

Pelham competed in the race a year ago, and he posted a time of 42 minutes, 53 seconds, which was tops among runners from LaGrange.

Pelham is looking to better that time by a significant margin this year.

“I’m looking for 36, 37 minutes,” Pelham said. “We’ll see.”

This is a different kind of race for Pelham, who runs 3.1-mile races during cross-country season during the fall, and shorter distances during track season.

Pelham earned a top-10 individual finish during the 2013 state cross-country meet, and he helped the team finish second.

At the state track meet this spring, Pelham was sixth in the two-mile run.

This summer, Pelham has been training hard in preparation for the Peachtree, and he figures he’ll start out at a quick pace, and hope for the best.

“The goal is to stay right at six-flat and see how long that lasts,” Pelham said. “I’ll take it easy the next two days, just kind of run slow, and then see what happens.”

Pelham is looking forward to seeing some of the best runners in the world in action, including Mosinet Geremew of Ethiopia, who won last year’s race with a time of 28:07.

“The guy that’s going to win will be 27, 28,” Pelham said. “They make it look easy.”

Pelham will be part of a large number of local runners participating in the race.

A year ago, more than 60 runners from LaGrange ran in the Peachtree.

While Pelham had the best time among the local runners, Sarah Bearden, a LaGrange High graduate, was next with a time of 45:34.

Andy Fritchley (46:34) was next, and Joseph Davison (48:03), David Erickson (48:05) and Julie Patton (48:18) were other local runners who finished in less than 50 minutes.