No American man has ever run the AJC Peachtree Road Race faster than Craig Virgin. As Virgin broke the tape in 1981 for the third consecutive year, the clock read 28:03. Not only was it the fastest time run by an American at the Peachtree; at the time it was the overall event record with Virgin breaking his own previous Peachtree record by 27 seconds. Forty-six men broke the 30-minute barrier that day, making it the fastest field in race history.
In the 37 years that have followed, only one American, Leonard Korir, has come within 13 seconds of Virgin’s time. Korir ran 28:16 in 2017.
Virgin made three Olympic teams and is the only American man to ever win the World Cross Country Championship, which he won twice. Still, he considers the 1981 AJC Peachtree Road Race one of the most memorable moments of his career. In this week’s installment of the Peachtree 50, he takes us through the record-setting day.