I have a few runner friends who are as proud of their streak of years not running the AJC Peachtree Road Race as I am of my two-decade streak. The main reason is they don’t like to run in crowds.
I can see how it might get frustrating for people. Even with my plodding pace in recent years, I spent a good bit of time dodging slower runners and putting on the brakes when a slower person unexpectedly moved in front of my just as I was passing.
It will be interesting to see how the wave system works. Implemented this year, it is designed to spread the runners out better and to put people with documented times in groups with the similarly speedy.
I resumed running in 1990, after a 10-year hiatus. According to the Atlanta Track Club’s history of the race, a big change took place between 1989 and 1990 to accommodate the growing popularity of the race.
“In 1989, the 25,000 was reached in just 9 days. Those not making the cut bellowed in anger.
Race organizers took heed. The start was redesigned. Time groups of 5,000 each were sent from the start at three minute intervals, allowing the crowd to stretch out sufficiently to ease comfortably through the 14th Street gate. In 1990, 40,000 ran, with a start lasting 30 minutes. The race took two weeks to close.”
I can say for certain that at least one person in that 40,000 was not comfortable as the park trails squeezed the crowd of runners.
“Get away from me you sweaty pig,” said a young woman after I brushed against her at about the 5.5 mile mark. I was surprised, since I thought she was the one who was sharing too much perspiration.
In 1994 the field increased to 50,000 runners. Then it was increased by another 5,000 in 1997.
One of the prominent Peachtree landmarks a runner has always seen during the July 4th trek is the population sign in front of the Darlington Apartments. Today the sign says there are more than 5.4 million people in metro Atlanta.
Check out the population number in the sign in the photo above. That photo is from just seven Peachtrees ago.
No wonder elbow room is scarce around Atlanta, whether you’re in the race or not.