Several world-class athletes will return to Cedartown for a big event this summer.
After a two-year hiatus following the COVID-19 pandemic, the Cedartown Wheelchair Athlete Training Camp and 5K will take place next week with some of the world’s top wheelchair athletes making the trek to Polk County for the race, which has become a staple in the wheelchair racing community.
The main event is the 5-kilometer race on June 30 that starts and finishes on North College Street and includes John Hand and surrounding roads. The women and quad division will start at 6 p.m. while the men’s division begins at 6:25 p.m.
Organizing committee member Matt Foster and a group of volunteers installed flags from several of the countries along College Street representing the homelands of athletes who have traveled to Cedartown to participate in the event.
“After having to shutter the race due to the coronavirus and the Olympics, it’s great to be back,” said Matt Foster, a member of the organizing committee. “So many people throughout the community have told me how excited they were when they saw me putting up the flags, because that let them know that the race is happening again.”
Dave Grove, the event’s executive director, has helped with organizing the training camp and 5K for over 23 years and shares those sentiments.
“There are two ways to look at it,” Grove said. “On one hand, we’re all very excited that the athletes are coming. It should be a good field of competitors and a great night for a race. On the other hand, it is a lot of work to prepare for the race, so we’re all going to be very tired. But, regardless, we’re all very glad to have the race back.”
The Cedartown Police Department released an announcement on Facebook recently advising residents to be careful around the areas of College Street, 6th Street, Seab Green Road, and other areas due to athletes practicing for the 5K. Several roads will close beginning around 5 p.m. on the day of the race including College Street, Lakeside Drive, Ellen Hand Circle, John Phillips Road, West John Hand Road, and College Circle.
There will be a brief “fun run” on June 30 for children ages 12 and under before the races begin at 6 p.m. It will be a short jog from Jule Peek Avenue near Peek Park to the finish line on College Street.
Like any other year, the 2022 Cedartown 5K Road Race should be a very competitive event with a plethora of talented racers taking part.
“We’ve got approximately 15-20 racers this year from the United States, Mexico, Costa Rica, Spain, Colombia, Nigeria, South Africa, and Ukraine,” Foster said. “They have various years of competition and several of them have competed in elite racing events in the Commonwealth Games and the Olympics.”
After months of planning and orchestrating the event, everyone on the organizing committee is just excited to have race day on the horizon.
“I’m hoping for beautiful weather with no rain and a break from the brutal heat, but of course that’s out of our hands,” Foster said. “I’d love to see people from Cedartown, Rockmart, Rome, Atlanta, and all over come out to Peek Park or along the route and cheer for these athletes, fellowship with neighbors and friends, tailgate, and enjoy the evening.”
Grove also invited everyone in the community to check out the event for themselves.
“They will have a great time,” Grove said. “This is a world-class race with world-class athletes. I think after seeing what these athletes can do, spectators would be charged up to see what they can do themselves.”