Sports Columns

September 7, 2013

Doug Hawley: Singleton brought a lot to race

When I recently learned Peachtree Road Race founder Tim Singleton had died, a flood of memories swept over me.

My first memories of Singleton were formed during the 1950s while watching him as an athlete at Atlanta’s Druid Hills High School. He dominated the hurdles events in the all-state track and field meet, which featured the best performers from all classifications.

On my first trip to the Boston Marathon in 1976, I flew with a group out of Atlanta. By coincidence, Singleton was the coordinator for the tour group.

My mother and father met me at our hotel in downtown Boston.

“I’m surprised that Tim is such a nice person,” said my father, Norman, after chatting for a little while with Singleton.

“Why do you say that?”

“I remember those days of watching him dominate those hurdles in high school,” he answered. “He was just so darned good!”

Singleton, a distinct “people person,” directed other running events such as the Honolulu Marathon in Hawaii.

He directed the Peachtree Race in Atlanta for the first six years. From a modest beginning of 110 runners, the world-famous event now limits the entries to a robust 60,000.

Singleton admittedly never dreamed he would turn into a distance runner, particularly for the standard 26.2-mile marathon. This was someone who earlier set state high school records in the high and low hurdles and the 880-yard relay while helping lead Druid Hills to three state championships. In football, Singleton was an all-state halfback. He also played for two state championship basketball teams.

After high school, he took his athletic talents across town to Georgia Tech, where he was a two-sport athlete in track and football.

Despite his allegiance to the Yellow Jackets over the years, Singleton introduced me to people on more than one occasion as “a former Georgia runner.”

Singleton coached the Georgia State cross country program in the 1960s. From 1976 to 1989, he taught business management in Houston.

Desiring a return to his home state, Singleton accepted a teaching position at North Georgia College and lived his last years in Dahlonega.

Those many people who love the Peachtree Road Race owe a lot to the man who made quite an impact in his 76 years.

BEACH RUNNING: On my recent annual weeklong journey to Destin, Fla., almost no one was running on the beach due to the heavy sand. Nevertheless, many people shared a nearby sidewalk as in the past, including runners and walkers.

The weather, mostly in the 80s, was marvelous. No rain struck. However, previous constant rain made the ocean unmanageable with seaweed and discolored water.

Anybody planning a late vacation might want to check out the projected water report.

UPCOMING RACES: Two races that count towards Runner of the Year points for Carpet Capital Running Club are set for the final week of this month.

The Unity Race is Sept. 24 in Calhoun, the annual 5K will be celebrating its 20th edition. The run starts at Gordon Central High School and finishes in downtown Calhoun.

The Eton 4-Miler, which is in its 10th year, begins and ends near the Old Wishing Well in Eton on Sept. 28. This is Georgia’s only certified four-mile race.

No race in our section of the country provides more quality post-race door prizes.

Doug Hawley has been a competitive distance runner for more than 50 years. You can write to him at dhawley@optilink.us.

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