X-Man Quest – The Final Time Group

In the scanned image of my old bib number below you’ll see that in 2005 I started the AJC Peachtree Road Race in the back of the pack – group nine. After the finish line, as a volunteer in Piedmont Park handed me the bag with my T-shirt, she abruptly marked my bib with the letter “X.”
For years I puzzled over the meaning of that crudely scrawled “X.”

2005 number

The haunting memory was stirred Saturday when I opened an envelope that just arrived from the Atlanta Track Club.
I riffled through the assorted ads and instructions inside until I found my 2010 Peachtree bib. And. There. It. Was. An “X” (followed by 77 and something, something, something).
I know now that woman who “Xed” me in 2005 was not just another volunteer. I have apparently been cursed by the Oracle of the Peachtree Road Race.
My Peachtree time last year didn’t earn me a high seed this year. But I hoped I wouldn’t be bringing up the rear, starting this year’s run near Brookhaven. At 9 a.m.
Looking back, I can see how I angered the gods and brought this misfortune on myself. For the first time in a long time I’ve put in the preparation to finish in less than an hour. In the past I’ve drawn low group numbers and the runners that trained harder but started behind me had to dodge and weave to pass me.
Now my dilemma is whether to settle for a lousy draw, or do I try to improve my view of the start line between now and July 4th?
I can think of two ways to get a better start without adding to the small fortune I’ve spent the past two months in an effort to be a 60-minute man.
1) I can poll my running friends and post on Facebook to try to pry a better start time from someone who has a more desirable bib, but is unable to run for some reason.
2) I can camp out at the Peachtree Health and Fitness Expo and hope that I win one of the hourly bib drawings and get a better wave position.
And there is yet a third possibility. I’d like to buy a vowel. Not just any vowel, but one of the first three in the alphabet. (Cost is not to exceed registration value, of course, per race rules). I saw several fine-looking race bibs for sale on eBay over the weekend.
If I can get a better starting spot, my plan is to run with the “X” chip that I got in the mail so I would get electronic credit for my time. A better starting position would spare me a lot of dodging and weaving. It would greatly improve my shot at reaching the 60-minute goal I’ve worked toward for 12 weeks.
If you’ve gotten your envelope from the Atlanta Track Club, how did the Oracle treat you?

15 comments Add your comment


June 22nd, 2010
7:20 am

Group A! I guess my sub 50 min performance in Cobb’s US10k last year paid off.

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Gen Neyland

June 22nd, 2010
7:30 am

If you start with your original designated X group and break that hour you’re shooting for then you will have become a man, my son. I’m in the F Troop group. Too bad we elders can’t use the age-adjusted timing format to better ourselves timewise. If the current method of time submission remains the same, I’ll always submit my last PRR time instead of a ringer race in order to creep up front and become fodder for the Gazelles…

Gen Neyland

June 22nd, 2010
7:32 am

david : The US10K is NOT a ringer race. Congrats on a sub 50 in that one. My best ever there was 58…


June 22nd, 2010
8:17 am

I had my time from the Peachtree last year entered (55:19) but still received an X-Man Number?? I’m wondering if the online app didn’t have some issue as it took hours to get registered. Anyone else have this problem?


June 22nd, 2010
9:01 am

I got my number this past weekend. Luckily, after a bit of training, I was able to complete a race that qualified me to start just after the sub-seeded runners. I’m in the 2000’s. I’m not happy with that though, I ran a race last weekend and plan to do it again this weekend hoping to get an even better position next year. I just missed it last weekend by only 3 seconds off the required pace. If it’s not 100-degrees this weekend I might just have it. The key is to run the smaller races where crowding isn’t a problem. Good luck everybody.


June 22nd, 2010
9:28 am

I refer to myself at F Troop too Gen!

Lauren Dieterich

June 22nd, 2010
9:37 am

David… I think a sub 50 at the Cobb 10k means you’re officially on track for the Olympic Trials. That is a bear of a race!

I love the Chattahoochee RR 10k in Sandy Springs and the Silver Comet 10k for speedy PRR qualifying courses. They both offer smallish crowds, flat courses and cool temps.

Gen Neyland

June 22nd, 2010
10:13 am

Joy : Please don’t run over me…


June 22nd, 2010
1:53 pm

Love to Run

June 22nd, 2010
4:21 pm

You can go to Big Peach and see if they have any of the special Reebok numbers available. They had a certain allocation of numbers per store that you can have if you purchase a pair of Reebok shoes. Here is a blurb from their newsletter:

One last bit of exciting Peachtree news: last week we mentioned that we have 20 free race entries at each of our stores. There are still some left, so if you don’t have a race number, there’s hope. That free entry is yours with the purchase of any pair of Reebok running shoes. (Race applications are on a first come, first served basis, and will not be held.)


June 23rd, 2010
10:29 am

That US 10k is a beast! Peachtree’s Heartbreak Hill is a foothill for the other. I’ve run a lot of races, US 10k is the toughest by far, including some half-marathons.

Same Boat Runner

June 24th, 2010
8:48 am

So this will be my first year running the PRR…unfortunately my bib came Monday with a randomly picked, dead last, big FAT X start wave group on it (since it’s my first year I have no prior verified race times with them). Ugh, my hopes of that under 60 minute finish are down the drain already. Sort of disheartening considering all the trainings ensured to get to said X point. How many years will it take to get from X to C (or somewhere in that vacinity) I wonder? Maybe this is why people run it for so many years in a row…to finally get a decent start wave at year 15 by gradually working their way up from the bottom…and dodging many runners/walkers along the way.


June 27th, 2010
10:53 am

My time last year was around 1:40. When I saw the original classifications, I figured I’d be in time group T at 8:46. But when I got my number, I saw that the people who submitted times only went through group H, which I’m in, and J through X are random. (There is no “I” group. There’s no “I” in team, either. Or in “Peachtree Road Race.”)

Since 50,000 people had times in last year’s race, doesn’t this suggest that either a lot of people didn’t run again this year, or there are a lot of times that didn’t get recorded?

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