Every June flags from around the world line the street’s of Cedartown, Georgia, a small town known best for being the birthplace of the voice of Winnie the Pooh and a song by country crooner Waylon Jennings. The flags represent the countries of world-class athletes who visit this Northwest Georgia town every year for the Cedartown Wheelchair Athlete Training Camp and 5K. For one night in early July, the streets are lined with fans as these athletes compete.

How it started

South Africa native Krige Schabort is a well-known Paralympic athlete and received a silver medal in the 2000 Summer Paralympic Games held in Sydney, Australia, who relocated to Cedartown.

“When I moved here, and I started training on the road, people always were so friendly and great about it and supportive about it,” Schabort said. “I always had folks from Australia, Europe, especially Switzerland, South Africa to come visit with me and we trained here before the Peachtree Road Race. And then we decided, let’s plan to do a training camp while we are here to get ready for and then we said, ‘Let’s just throw in a race.'”

The 5K started in 2000 but was cancelled in 2020 and 2021 because of the COVID-19 pandemic. The 2023 race is the event’s 20th. Previous races were before the July 4 Peachtree Road Race. The 2023 race is happening on July 6.

“The main reason why it’s so great is because of this,” Schabort told us after the 2022 race where people lined rain-soaked street to cheer for the athletes. “The support of the local community, you cannot go without that.”

Volunteers make it happen

The race and training camp are made possible by volunteers. The Hughes family were told about the race by friends and started as spectators.

Tori Hughes Adamson’s’ family began hosting athletes when she was a child after beginning as spectators. Her mother, Kristy, began coordinating host families.

“The second year, we hosted an athlete,” Kristy Hughes said. “It was Clayton Gerein. He was a Canadian athlete and a fabulously fun guy. By the third or fourth year, we became sponsors through Todd’s veterinary clinic. We have worked on the committee in some capacity or another for at least 10 years.” The Hughes, seen here in London before the Paralympic Games, call the camp and race “the best week of our summer.”

The experiences led Kristy’s daughter, Tori Hughes Adamson, to pursue her master’s degree at the University of Illinois in Champaign, which is known for its wheelchair athletics. She now works in disability programming, outreach, and advocacy full-time at Tools for Life, Georgia’s Assistive Technology Act Program.

The athletes

We watched the race in 2022, when rain threatened to delay it. Even with the cloudy skies and wet streets, people still lined up to watch the athletes race to the finish line.

Daniel Romanchuk is an American wheelchair athlete who was the youngest winner of the Boston Marathon in his division. He was featured on Cliff Bars, But he made the time to participate in the Cedartown race in 2022 after a traveling to Miami, to Cedartown to San Francisco and back to Cedartown the morning on the race.

“It’s just an amazing race,” Romanchuk said. “The whole town really gets behind it. It has some great history with Krige and a number of the racers and it’s just amazing.”

Twenty-eight racers are participating in the 2023 race. They are from 11 different countries including Ukraine, Ghana and China.

The racers are divided into groups. Women have their own division. The men’s division are quad, for men with quadriplegia, an open division, masters for men ages 40 to 49 and grandmasters for men over 50.

How you can watch the Cedartown 5k

This year’s race begins on College Street near Peek Forest Park at 6 p.m. on Thursday, July 6. . Every year the race kicks off with a fun run for kids. The women and men’s quad races take place at 6:15, followed by the open men’s race and the masters.

You can find all of the information on the organization’s Facebook page. Parking is available in places near College Street. We parked in Peek Forest Park, near the finish line. Get there early for a good spot. Here’s a preview of the event from last year’s race.

The race is free to watch. Before you go, pick an athlete and cheer them on as they race through the streets.

While you are in Cedartown, stroll through the beautiful downtown. It’s a very unique town with a lot to see. You can learn more about it here.

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