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Atlanta to Host the 2020 Olympic Marathon Trials

USA Track & Field announced Monday that it has awarded the 2020 Olympic Marathon Trials to the city of Atlanta.

The race will be held on February 29, 2020, and the top three male and female finishers who meet the Olympic A standard will represent the United States at the 2020 Summer Olympics in Tokyo. The fourth-place runners in each race will be named alternates.

The Atlanta Track Club is the local organizing committee for the event. Its winning bid draws on the city’s legacy as an Olympic host city (the Games were held there in 1996), a vibrant local running community that organizers hope will turn out in force to cheer on athletes, moderate February temperatures with an average high of 60 degrees, and numerous perks for athletes.

“We’ve got 50-plus years of history of putting on running events,” said Rich Kenah, executive director of the Atlanta Track Club. “We were involved in the Olympic marathon in 1996 and the U.S. indoor championships when they were here for almost a decade from the ’90s to the early 2000s. We’ve hosted the 10K championships as part of the Peachtree Road Race quite a few times. We feel we’ve got the right mix of history and understanding what it takes to put on an event such as this.”

Austin, Texas; Chattanooga, Tennessee; and Orlando, Florida; also bid to host the Marathon Trials.

The quadrennial men’s and women’s Olympic Marathon Trials are two of running’s most compelling races. The selection process to represent Team USA is ruthless: It comes down to one marathon on one day. If a top-ranked athlete is injured or sick on trials day? Too bad.

Additionally, the championship-style event is open to any woman who has run a marathon faster than 2:45 or a half marathon faster than 1:13. Men who have run faster than 2:19 and 1:04 are eligible to compete. At the 2016 trials, in Los Angeles, 246 women and 211 men, many with full-time jobs outside of running, were qualified to compete, giving sub-elite runners a day in the sun.

The proposed Atlanta trials course, which includes three seven-mile loops and a fourth loop that is five miles, is described by organizers as having a similar elevation profile to Central Park, which runners regard as hilly. Spectators in some spots will be able to see competitors go by six times without moving.

Atlanta’s plan focuses on walkability for athletes and spectators, with the start/finish line 100 meters from the host hotel. It also draws on the popularity of running in Atlanta, even if it’s not widely known as a hotbed outside the city.
“One big piece of our bid is making sure that the entire running community embraces the trials in this running weekend that we propose,” Kenah said. “That will include us engaging youth running clubs, youth track and field clubs, high schools, and colleges in the area.” He points out that the Atlanta Track Club is the second-largest running organization in the country, behind only New York Road Runners.

The Atlanta Track Club has proposed a three-way revenue-sharing agreement with USATF and the athletes. And it has promised to pay for the travel and accommodation expenses of all qualifiers. In the past, qualifiers were separated into “A” and “B” qualifiers, with female “A” qualifiers having run faster than 2:37 and male “A” qualifiers faster than 2:15. Only “A” qualifiers had their expenses paid.

“It is important for us to make sure that everyone who qualifies for the event has that equal opportunity to secure that spot on the team for the Games,” Kenah said. “We don’t believe you have that equal opportunity if you are treating A-qualified athletes differently than B-qualified athletes.

“In all Olympic sports, we have seen the middle-class athlete disappear. You have the haves, and the have-nots,” he continued. “We want to celebrate the storyline of the haves, but we don’t want everyone to forget about the B-qualified athletes, the have-nots. Because every Olympic cycle, there seems to be one of those stories, where someone put in the work quietly, and carefully, with little to no support from any partner or sponsor. They find themselves in the mix with a realistic chance to make the Olympic team.”

It’s “critically important,” Kenah said, to ensure that developing athletes stay in the sport long enough for them to develop their full potential.

Many athletes criticized the 2016 marathon trials in Los Angeles for inadequate water on the course and slow medical response for runners who struggled in the heat. They also found the event lacked the sense of excitement and crowd support of past trial races. A few “B” qualifiers turned to crowdfunding to help pay for their travel expenses.

From the Olympic Marathon Trials in Los Angeles, Amy Cragg, Desiree Linden, and Shalane Flanagan made Team USA bound for Rio; on the men’s side, Galen Rupp, Meb Keflezighi, and Jared Ward were the marathoners.

Cragg, Linden, Rupp, and Ward are expected to return to race the 2020 trials.

The Atlanta Marathon, a growing community marathon, half marathon, and 5K that in past years was known as the Georgia Marathon and this year had 8,000 finishers between the three races, will be held the day after the trials.

7+ Best Festivals in Atlanta: Spring and Summer 2019

The South is known for fun, which is why one of the most popular events is festivals in Atlanta. We’ve got the perfect list of festival fun for your spring and summer, with dates, places, and hints about their family-friendliness. Take note of those marked with “365 Favorite!“ as it notates the 10 festivals we love the most!

1. Celebrate Spring at the Georgia Apple Blossom Festival!

Spring is one of the best times of the year to visit the North Georgia Mountains. It’s when blossoms create a snowy blanket on the apple trees. Come celebrate the beginning of spring at the Georgia Apple Blossom Festival in East Ellijay, Georgia. Shop at 50 hand-selected, regional vendors offering food, art, crafts, and more. The Festival is pet-friendly, charges no admission, and offers plenty of free fun for the kids too!

2. June Family Fun Month at Beech Mountain

The town of Beech Mountain is a fun getaway for the entire family located at 5,506 feet above sea level in the Blue Ridge Mountains. Here you are free to unplug, unwind, and reconnect. Families are encouraged to make their way up to the mountain in June for Family Fun Month. With 30 days of family activities plus discounted lodging specials like buy two nights, and get a third night free, it is the perfect time of the year to get up to the mountains and enjoy some quality family time. Arranging visits is easy! Check out the calendar on the more information link, pick your dates, then select your preferred Family Fun Month lodging special and you are ready to go!

3. Experience the Rose Show and Festival in Thomasville, GA

Held in historic Downtown Thomasville April 25-27, 2019, the Rose Show and Festival has been a southwest Georgia tradition since the 1920s. Featuring several flower shows, parades, community events, concerts, and more, the Rose Show and Festival is fun for the whole family. Most events are free!

4. Taste of Alpharetta Will Have Your Mouth Watering

Come to Downtown Alpharetta on May 2, 2019, for one of the most delicious festivals of the year. Voted a Top 20 Event by Southeast Tourism Society, the Taste of Alpharetta brings over 50,000 festival goers and foodies to the downtown Alpharetta streets each. Taste dishes from over 60 restaurants for one night only. Arrive hungry so you can try scrumptious samples from locally-owned and chef-driven restaurants. Free admission with food samples ranging from $1 to $4 each. It’s an event the locals never miss!

5. Let the Celebrate Freedom Rodeo Wow You This Spring

Come enjoy the Celebrate Freedom Rodeo in downtown Alpharetta’s Wills Park on May 10 & 11, 2019. This fun, family-friendly event will feature the Wild Together Trick Riders made up of the sister team of Shanae and Hannah Ritter. Enjoy festival food, BBQ from award-winning Sam’s BBQ-1 vendors, kids’ activities, and more. Gates open at 6 pm. The rodeo starts at 8 pm and includes bull riding, trick riding, roping, and more. Admission: General – $15, Kids age 5-12 – $10, Kids age 4 and under – Free

6. Unleash Your Creativity at the Alpharetta Arts Streetfest

Over 90 artisans will come together at Alpharetta’s Village Green, May 25-27, 2019 for the Alpharetta Arts Streetfest. It is a three-day festival where art enthusiasts will find a plethora of art mediums including mixed media, photography, pottery, jewelry, textiles, wood, metal, glass, paper art, and more. Meet the artists and watch many of them bring their craft to life. Grab a local brew or glass of vino from beverage vendors to enjoy as you stroll from booth to booth. Treat yourself to some delicious food at one of the local eateries throughout downtown. Free admission.

7. Bear on the Square Festival, Historic Downtown Dahlonega

Bear on the Square Festival, Historic Downtown Dahlonega Square, April 27-28: The uniquely named event is always a big draw for crowds to experience an authentic Appalachian Festival. Held in and around Dahlonega’s Historic Public Square, the free celebration features bluegrass and old-time music, a juried Artists Market Place featuring traditional mountain crafts, storytelling, free music workshops and demonstrations, dance team performances, an old-time mountain dance, and more. Visit www.bearonthesquare.org for more information.

This family-friendly event has so much for kids to do that they won’t think to ever utter ‘I’m bored.’ Activities include: building a special project at the Home Depot booth; panning for gold, taking in a blacksmithing demo, learning how to weave a cloth or make a broom, visiting the Pick & Bow jam tent to see how well kids can play music or enjoying the balloon and face-painting booth.