As a dedicated and competitive runner, Lonnie Camp has covered many, many miles over the past two decades. But this year was special. This year, the 65-year-old Camp received his 20th shirt for the Peachtree Road Race after crossing the rain-soaked finish line on July 4th.
"I just really enjoy running," said Camp, in his quiet, understated way. "It's one of the best stress relievers."
The Covington native, who works as a janitor Rockdale Career Academy and worked for many years as a designer with Georgia Power, ran track and field at R.L. Cousins High School, where he graduated in 1968. But it was attending track meets to support his son, who attended University of South Carolina on a track scholarship and later tried out for the 1996 Olympics,that piqued Camp's interest in running again.
Camp tackled his first Peachtree Road Race in 1996 and just never stopped.
"I definitely look forward to it every year," said Camp. "After the first year, it was just something I wanted to do. The mass of people was exciting. The other one I enjoyed was the US Classic 10K, up at Cumberland Mall. We ran the hill by the Big Chicken. I guess that's why I like the Peachtree, because of Cardiac Hill. That is the toughest, but I make that hill every year."
Besides 20 Peachtree Road Races, he's run four marathons, 12 half marathons, 11 US Classic 10Ks, along with local races such as the Cheerios Challenge 10K, Fuzz Run 5K, Aubrae Gunderson 5K, RCA Fast Forward 5K, Firehouse 5K, Six Miles at Six Flags, and Peachtree City Classic.
Running is also a family affair. His wife has run several Peachtree Road Races with him. He and his son are planning to run a half marathon this fall in Chicago. Camp's identical twin brother Johnnie - older by two hours "and better looking," says Johnnie - has also run the last several Peachtree Races. Johnnie, who used to work at Salem High School, is more of a soccer player and admits his brother has better race times.
Lonnie Camp runs at least three times a week, about 4 to 6 miles a time, unless he's training for a bigger event. He runs trails in Rockdale such as Johnson Park, at the Monastery of the Holy Spirit, along Ga. 20 South, and at Stone Mountain Park. He tries to do a marathon at least every five years; his first marathon was on his 50th birthday.
He's looking forward to the 50th anniversary of the Peachtree Road Race in three years. He's proud of the fact he's run the Peachtree under an hour every year. "I'm hoping I can hold it until the 50th anniversary under an hour. A lot of people just want to cross the finish line. For me I just want to do my best. Competition motivates me."