“We have 34 athletes and two coaches coming from eight different countries and America,” race organizer Dave Grove said. “We have them coming from Canada, Mexico, South Africa, Scotland, England, Sweden, Switzerland, New Zealand and the United States.”
According to Grove, the racers will arrive in town the evening of Sunday, June 28. They will then train on Monday on Sixth Street and Seab Green Road. Before racing on Tuesday evening, the athletes will train Tuesday morning on the actual race course.
“They will also stay in town to train on Wednesday and Thursday,” Grove added.
On race day, a fun run will be held at 5:30 p.m. for people 18-years-old and younger. Grove encourages anyone wishing to participate to meet at the finish line banner on College Street at 5:15 p.m.
The Men’s Masters, Juniors and Open races will begin shortly after 6 p.m.
“Fox Five News in Atlanta will be airing the beginning of the race live on their sports segment,” Grove said. “So it is totally up to them what time we start, but we are looking to start at 6:10 p.m.”
At the conclusion of the Men’s races, the Women’s Open and Junior races will be held along with the Men’s Quad race.
An Award’s Ceremony will be held at 7 p.m. and the annual free community cookout will be at the same time at the park.
The race will take the same path as years before, with the racers beginning at College Street. They will go down Lakeside Drive, Ellen Hand Circle, Wiley Road, George West Road and Marshall Street. They will go back down Lakeside Drive, go north on Ellen Hand Circle, continue on John Phillips Road, John Hand Road and finish on College Street.
The wheelchair race, which started out as an exhibition race 10 years ago, has grown to become a world championship race with hundreds of local residents lining the streets to watch the world-class athletes compete.
The popular race, which showcases wheelchair athletes from around the world and prepares them for the upcoming Fourth of July Peachtree Road Race in Atlanta, is due a lot to Krige Schabort, a South African native now living in Cedartown.
Schabort represented South Africa at the 1992 Barcelona Paralympics where he won a bronze medal in the marathon. He then moved to Cedartown in 1997 and subsequently won numerous international marathons and 10K events.
In 1999, he received The Presidential Sports Award from South African President Thabo Mbeki. He is a three-time runner-up at Boston: 1998, 2002, and 2003. He finished fourth in 1999, and fifth in 2001.
Among his other accomplishments is a silver medal he won in the marathon at the Sydney 2000 Paralympic Games.
He was nominated two years ago for an ESPY award.
Also at this year’s event, Doc Ayers and Claire Beck – the widow of Ray Beck – of the Polk County Community Foundation will be the honorary starters.
“We wanted to honor them because they do so much for Polk County,” Grove said.