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Newton Medical Center staff shines in race
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There are two certainties in Georgia: the Newton Medical Center staff is constantly busy and the Peachtree Road Race is held every year in downtown Atlanta on the Fourth of July.

Combined, it becomes one unforgettable event for 16 tireless and extremely busy doctors and hospital staffers.

The annual 10K Peachtree is by far the largest road race in the world, drawing a crowd of approximately 55,000 people - runners, fans and volunteers alike.

Each year a group of Newton hospital employees have participated in the race, running for various reasons like improving health and self-confidence, among other things.

Newton Medical Center CEO Jim Weadick enjoys it so much that he has participated in the event 12 times.

"It's a lot of fun, especially when you're (training) for it," said Weadick. "For the whole 6.2 miles of it, the scenery (is) changing all the time; the atmosphere is very festive."

This year was extremely gratifying for Weadick, as he finished in 63 minutes and 33 seconds - 27 seconds under his goal.

The 64-year-old Weadick doesn't show any signs of slowing up, and he plans to take part in the race once again next year.

"Generally, it's not the kind of race where you can get out there and make real good time," said Weadick, "because there are a lot of folks walking and so forth. It's more of a happening than anything else, but it's a most enjoyable thing.

"Everybody should do it because it will be something you talk about for years," added Weadick.

For Dr. Andrew Malinchak, he used the race as a training springboard for an upcoming Disney marathon he will compete in later this year.

"It's a lot of fun and I encourage everyone to do it," said Malinchak, who finished the race just shy of 74 minutes.

For first timers like Bill Kelly and Sue Saunders, the event was something they will never forget.

"If you live in Atlanta and you're a runner, you have to do the Peachtree," said Kelly, adding that it was the best race he had ever been in.

Kelly, who finished the race in 59 minutes and 55 seconds, had been looking forward to the race for 15 years. Previously, he had always been away from Atlanta working or vacationing, since it is on the Fourth of July.

"It was a very well-organized event," said Saunders, "and the atmosphere was the best - it actually made you keep going."

But for others such as Barbara Wilkey - who runs for an entirely different reason - the race means so much more.

Wilkey has high blood pressure that is uncontrollable; however, she is able to control it somewhat with a combination of running and medication.

"It's hard to train because of my schedule, but I try to do it when I get off work," said Wilkey. "I try to make three good runs a week, no matter how exhausted I am."

Wilkey works the third shift (8 p.m. to 6:30 a.m.) in the laboratory within the confines of the medical center. It is an extremely stressful environment, and she usually works alone.

No matter - nothing has stopped Wilkey from participating in the Peachtree for the past 11 years. In addition, she has also been a volunteer for the Atlanta track club to help with the event each year.

For Dr. Bryan Perry, he used to be a competitive runner in the Peachtree, but that was before his wife and brother started joining him.

"It's not really a road race; it's just more of a social gathering," said Perry.

Perry, who is an avid runner, has run in six marathons. He has lived in Atlanta for 10 years and has participated in the Peachtree nine times.

"It's just one big party-atmosphere; everyone is in a good mood and everyone is friendly," said Perry. "It's amazing how well-organized it is with the volume of people, and how quickly everyone moves - you're herded like cow, but it moves very smoothly."

Whatever reason each staffer has for participating in the race, one thing is clear - all of them thoroughly enjoy it, and look forward to next year.