If you missed the announcement in January that big changes are coming to the AJC Peachtree Road Race registration process, maybe it’s because you were busy shoveling snow off your sidewalk, or scraping ice off your windshield.
In January, while people across the country coped with Snowpocalypse, road race organizers announced that the field will expand in 2011 from 55,000 to 60,000. And the longstanding practice of first-come-first-served allocation of the vast majority of running bibs will be replaced by an online lottery held over 10 days in March.
Let’s just say applause for the lottery was not deafening. It’s always tricky tampering with an event that so many people have a personal investment in. Based on the AJC Peachtree Road Race Facebook item about the changes, about 73 commenters wish there was such a thing as a “dislike” button.
Some said the old ways rewarded people who took the initiative to register early, either online or – way back in olden times – getting a Sunday newspaper right after the application was published and mailing it right away.
For two decades the old paper and postal system worked well for me. I was never shut out.
On the other hand, the commenters who said, essentially, if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it, must not recall the technical glitches from last March 21 when online registration opened at 1 p.m. The system bogged down at the outset and none of us were able to register for a while. I had expensive tickets for a Hawks game that afternoon and started getting nervous before I finally broke through. By then I was in such a hurry that I neglected to submit my Peachtree time from 2009 and I lost the bib lottery big time, with an “X” wave number sending me to the back of the pack on July 4th.
If you haven’t heard about the changes for this year, here are the essentials:
• Online registration takes place from 5 a.m. March 15 until just before midnight March 24. Entries will be put in a lottery and 60,000 people will be notified by email by March 29 that they’re in.
• Up to 10 people can enter as a group to accommodate people who like to run with family and friends. The group will have the equal opportunity in the lottery as individuals.
• “Streakers” – people who have trekked down Peachtree on the Fourth of July ten times or more – will be given special consideration for entry if they are shut out of the lottery.
• The wave system is back and you can enter a time from a Peachtree qualifier to get a spot closer to the starting line.
I mentioned the 73 commenters who gave the changes a thumbs down after the announcement, but to be fair 31 people also clicked on “like.” But they didn’t take the time to defend their preference in writing.
How about you? Is this just another change to adapt to for a race that has seen plenty of changes over four decades? Or should they have left things like they were?