Think you can win the lottery?

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?

46 comments Add your comment


February 16th, 2011
11:34 am

I like this system better than last year because it should avoid a system crash. Allowing a lottery provides opportunities for all to register regardless of what they have going on at one moment on a Saturday. I LOVE the option to register as a group, because that way it means either my wife and I are both in or neither of us are in, and we don’t have one running while the other mopes- this will make the trip to Atlanta (if we get in) more worthwhile if both of us are in. Though, I DO kind of like how the Boston Marathon is giving preference to the faster runners and allowing them to register 2 weeks early.


February 16th, 2011
11:44 am

You should have sticked with the “First come, first served” way. Most serious runners are diligent people. There should be a reward for diligence. The runners/walkers that are commited enough to set aside time to register for the race on the day that registration opens should be able to run in the event. I understand that there have been server problems. I also recall being diligent enough to keep trying until I successfully registered. Another negative outcome of this “swell” lottery system will likely be an increased number of inconsiderate people that walk in the far left lanes. They’re the people that were most likely to procrastinate in the past and had probably been unable to register in the past because they did not take the effort to register on the day the registration opened. Now they’re going to have an easier time causing “traffic jams”, injuries, slower times, etc. when they walk in the far left lane since they will be able to wait until the last minute and have an equal opportunity to successfully register. It’s not to late to return to the old way of registering. Please don’t stick with the lottery system.


February 16th, 2011
12:16 pm

Should have been kept the old way for sure! As far as system issue of last year…the geekheads should now know what needs to be done to accommodate the load.

[...] This post was mentioned on Twitter by John McCosh, ajcprr. ajcprr said: Think you can win the lottery? [...]


February 16th, 2011
12:43 pm

I, too, am not pleased w/ the lottery plan. As Pete stated, diligence is key. In the past, the PRR was two “races”…a race to get registered, and then the race itself on July 4th. There has to be similarly popular races across the country that use a fool-proof first-come-first-serve on-line registration…or how about Ticketmaster? When a popular concert is announced, how do they handle the throngs of requests to buy tickets as soon as tickets go on sale?
The lottery-style registration announcement was a huge disappointment. Expand the race to 60k runners is awesome, but getting registered is now a game of chance.(?) Thanks, y’all.


February 16th, 2011
1:09 pm

No matter what you do, a lot of people aren’t going to be happy. No question that it was time to move into the 21st century and out of the paper registration era, and the last couple of years of online registration weren’t without significant issues. Having said that… it seems like the system should reward people who are “regulars” and have a dedication to the event but also allows some new blood to participate each year. What about a dual lottery system: Reserve most of the registrations for a returning runner lottery and a smaller number for a new participants lottery?


February 16th, 2011
4:23 pm

I think this system is going to do nothing but open it up for online ticketing agencies to grab Peachtree Road Race numbers and repost them on Ebay/Stubhub for 10 times the price. Crying FOUL all the way to the start line!!!


February 16th, 2011
4:38 pm

I’m with Randy. I’ve run it 4 straight years and 6 times total. They ought to automatcially provide a spot for those who can run it under 55 minutes/1 hour (within a 2 year period) or run it 10 consecutive years. Maybe take a 50% lottery from times between 55 minutes to 1 hour 15 minutes, 75% lottery for 1st timers and those running it over 1 hour 30 minutes. Maybe they ought to build a “points” system that allows for times and or # of times running the Peachtree. You would lose points if you didn’t get a # 2 consecutive years in a row. I’d just hate to lose out on a chance to run knowing that some sap that want’s to walk it is taking my place. I also don’t want to see some people’s consecutive streaks broken, be it 10 years, 20 years, 30 years, 40 years, etc. over a lottery.

I do like the group idea. There are so many folks who want to run together and can’t because of their numbers.


February 16th, 2011
4:47 pm

DO NOT LIKE! I will be EXTREMELY P**SED if I don’t get in and some STUPID WALKER does. I agree with Pete’s comments. Furthermore, the system should take into consideration those who ran say 7 or 8 out of ten years, not just 10 consecutive years. Personally, I would feel even more offended as I moved from Atlanta for 2 recent years, and will now be FORCED to essentially start over for the PREFERENCE. Had I not been away, I would have hit number 10 this past year.


February 16th, 2011
4:49 pm

I’m glad to get rid of the paper entries, but it’s ridiculous to give the serious runner who busts his tail all year round training for the race the same treatment as the shirtless clown walking the race sucking Natural light through his beer hat. It’s just wrong.


February 16th, 2011
5:03 pm

It should have been left the same.I have ran over 20 Peachtrees and never had a problem with the old system….


February 16th, 2011
5:37 pm

Do you get in automatically if you have a certain time? e.g. if you have a qualifier in under 48 (or 42 or 55) are you guaranteed a slot?


February 16th, 2011
6:35 pm

No Burt, you don’t. That’s why all of the real runners are unhappy.

Brazen Unicorn

February 16th, 2011
6:41 pm

Can’t please everyone. People will always find something to complain about one way or another.


February 16th, 2011
7:03 pm

Agree with the comments about serious runners getting bumped for people walking who just want so say they “finished the Peachtree.” It is a race, after all, although it has become more of an event over the years. A lot of runners look forward to this race the whole year, and many of them are going to be on the sidelines watching people enjoying a stroll down Peachtree on the way to their two-hour finish time.


February 16th, 2011
7:36 pm

Let’s not forget that the online system did not work the first year either. The best thing was the last two years the online system failed plus WE had to pay a fee for it not to work. The new director really screwed the registration process up.

the pitts

February 16th, 2011
7:41 pm

this really is the pitts i have ran for 24 yrs straight was looking forward to number 25 if i don’t make it in i will be really p.o.’d and call it quits

New Runner

February 17th, 2011
1:00 pm

I’m not a fan of the lottery system but I think if the so-called ‘real runners’ want to run that badly, then do what I did and buy an ATC membership. I won’t have one of the fastest finish times, but I will run it and enjoy myself. Last year was my first time running the PRR and I hope to make it an annual tradition.

just the truth

February 17th, 2011
3:15 pm

Adding 5k is the worse thing possible. That means 5k more walkers for the ones that work it. It’s getting later and later in the day as it is. It’s all about money and the extra 5k are just pot builders.

Converted Cyclist

February 17th, 2011
3:29 pm

Makes me glad I quit the thing 6 years ago!!

Forrest Gump

February 17th, 2011
3:36 pm

What anal-retentive “Real Runners”!!! I sure hope me and the other “Stupid Walkers” get some good numbers and slow y’all down. Shut up and enjoy yourself unless your name is Dukmumbe Mumbumbji and you plan on running and winning the thing! Get a life!

Love it!

February 17th, 2011
3:40 pm

Since there is no NASCAR Race this spring for our gang to go to, we are going to register as a group and hopefully all 30 of us can go together. It will be one big rolling tail gate party – all of us spread across the street dragging our wheeled coolers full of Natty Lites. Maybe some of the gals will get lit enough to flash some of the spectators. I do hope they put a lot of butt cans out. We hate to throw our Camels down on the street.


February 17th, 2011
4:24 pm

SUGGESTION: One PRR for the “elite and professionals” followed by the healthy minded who want to get into the spirit of the event but are less competitive. Wont cost the city a dime more.


February 17th, 2011
4:45 pm

I liked the old way. The people who take the time and register early get rewarded. I also think that they should give some consideration to the runners who have submitted a time. The race would go much smoother if you had the majority of the people running. It is, afterall, called the Peachtree Road RACE. Not the Peachtree jump in at the first mile marker and walk in the middle of the Road Race. I hate the lazy walkers that I pass going up Cardiac Hill and they have a number that indicates their group hasn’t even started yet. If you’re going to wear the t-shirt, complete the entire 6.2 miles.


February 17th, 2011
4:46 pm

I do not participate but I agree that it should be a stipulation for those who consective run in this race 5 years or more. The walkers just want to get a t-shirt. What is the percentage of walkers in this race. This is a race and you should be running. If you want to walk go to the trail or a park and stop wasting the runner’s time.

Miss Atlanta Falcons

February 17th, 2011
5:31 pm

Now, hold on ya’ll with all the dispariging comments about walkers! I am a walker and am proud to have accomplished my first PRR 2 years ago, a goal I set and was very excited that I was able to complete. No one should NOT be able to get in because they walk! Next you’ll say no people w/disabilities should be allowed ( i know they go first…but still)
As for this new system, it’s dumb. I like many of you set aside all other business on the day that registration was to begin. Yes, it was frustrating but the problems of last year could’ve been easily fixed. There is nothing like registerin and KNOWING RIGHT THEN you were in!
I do have a question though: What if someone registeres with a group AND goes ahead and registers as an individual as well just in case the group doesnt get in or vice versa? What if they both get in, that means someone will have TWO numbers for the PRR! Do they have provisions to work against that? ( I even want them to…I may even do myself, now that I think about it)
Good Luck everyone! And I promise as always I will walk on the right!

Miss Atlanta Falcons

February 17th, 2011
5:42 pm

@Tee, it’s funny how you say you “DONT PARTICIPATE” but you KNOW that “ALL WALKERS just do it to get a Tshirt” . Why would you even make a comment on something you know absolutely NOTHING about? If walkers do it for the tshirt, what is the benefit to runners. People that walk have goals and ambitions just like the runners. There is no monetary benefit to do the PRR to runners as 99% of them will not win the prize anyway (there are only a few people that win every year). So runners do it for personal accomplisment..but walkers to it for the Tshirt? You sound dumb. The best way to not sound dumb is 1)Do not make comments on an issue you know nothing about & 2) Refrain from making assumptions about the intentions of tens of thousands of people whom you’ve never met before. I suggest you make a personal goal and aspire to accomplish it, maybe you wouldn’t have time to knock other people who do!
I am a proud WALKER of the PRR! I walked over 6 miles and lived to tell it…let me see you do more than run your mouth and do that!


February 17th, 2011
6:42 pm

Dear Walkers:
This is the “Peachtree Road Race”. What part of a 10k race involves walking? If you want to walk, do it on the sideWALK. If you can’t be bothered to race, don’t enter. I find it amazing that all these walkers have the energy to get on their soapbox regarding the Peachtree yet never show up for the many 10ks all over the Atlanta area during the course of the year; I race in many of them and the walkers are nearly always absent. Hypocrites.

Josh Holland

February 17th, 2011
7:20 pm

TOTALLY DISAAPOINTED – im never lucky to win a lottery. Considering that i have done the race three years in a row and ran it under 45minutes each time i hope the system will be smart enough to zero in on that.

ATL Race you suck… :-(


February 17th, 2011
7:24 pm

Couldn’t be more disappointed in the lottery…I like the intiative it takes to make plans to register early, this discourages those of us who have raced for years….absolutely HUGE error, previous director would NEVER have done this.


February 17th, 2011
7:39 pm

I checked out last year’s results — 75% of the runners had times greater than one hour. With the US10KClassic, a MUCH tougher course, it was 50%. I think this year I’ll treat the PRR as the goofball parade and get serious with the US10KClassic.


February 17th, 2011
7:39 pm

(assuming of course I win the lottery)


February 17th, 2011
9:22 pm

I’m aghast. This new system is just RACIST.


February 18th, 2011
1:00 pm

I just want the shirt. When I get my number I’ll give to an ousted runner if you give me the t-shirt when you finish, otherwise I’m getting my walker ready.

Devil Dog Runner

February 19th, 2011
7:36 am

This is absurd. The race has become a joke anyway because of so many walkers. And now people who have the initiative to get their app in early are piled in with the other 60,000. And to be fair, there should be two shirts. The Peachtree Road Race shirt, and one that says “Me and my fat a** took a leisurely stroll down Peachtree Street on the 4th of July.”

Bill Mackinnon

February 19th, 2011
7:55 am

MY, MY-The derisive comments/name calling about walkers smack of the political discourse and pandering that passes for conversation these days among our elected politicians. It is clearly elitist. We are all equal. I ran the PRR for 6 years on one repaired knee, until the other had to be repaired. It was a great experience. If I could do it now, it would be a walk run. I would hate to think the positive energy and mass support would only be for those who can do it under the magic hour. The lottery may work because it gives all who register a chance for the coveted t-shirt.


February 19th, 2011
8:14 am

The lottery and on-line is a good thing, but, you have to have “smart” exceptions. The simple exception would be if you have run a previous PRR in 55 minutes or less in the last 10 years, then, you qualify, plus, if you have participated in 5 of the last 10 years, you qualify.

How did they miss these simple smart exceptions. You still have a chance to get it right.

I have participated in 21 PPR and all under 50 minutes, my children have participated in 10, 7, 4, 2, and 1 race. It appears now we may not be able to run as a family.

I hope the PPR team reviews their plans, and does the smart move. I guess we will see.


February 19th, 2011
10:15 pm

You should ONLY GET A SHIRT if you do the race in UNDER 1 HOUR. I think that’s the way it used to be right? And I think that if you post a qualifying time, you should automatically get in.


February 19th, 2011
10:16 pm

PS. I don’t mind the walkers. They should just get a higher number (and maybe not get in the left lane, please :) )

21st Race

February 19th, 2011
10:23 pm

This will be no. 21 for me and if I do not get in (even though they say ’streakers’ will be given preference) I will not be happy. I used to enjoy getting up early on Saturday morning to get an early edition of the paper to get the application in the mail on Saturday… was almost as big a tradition as the race itself!!!!


February 19th, 2011
11:49 pm

GO BACK TO THE MAIL IN ENTRY FROM THE AJC! I have worked hard over the years to gain entry! I figured out to get the early edition of the paper, then rush to find a post office open on Saturday to mail it! Worked great for about 15 years or so until you morons at the track club decided to tell EVERYBODY to do that! Sure enough, I MISSED THE 25TH BECAUSE I DID NOT GET IN! Now you have decided it is not fair to reward those of us intelligent enough, who diligently work to get our entry in to be able to gain entry! So now you are going to do a lottery “to be fair to everyone” in the entry process! Sounds like a bunch of liberal near do wells to me! GO BACK TO THE PAPER ENTRY!!!!

From 70s

February 20th, 2011
12:31 am

I always thought the ones who were ready and just had to get tickets would be the first ones in line. Old folks like me would just wait til the last day to apply. Maybe you should make people drive down to Atlanta and pick up tickets the first few days and do a lottery with the rest. That would give the hard core runners a better chance.


February 20th, 2011
7:27 am

Why must everything that is an unfavorable change be racist? Seems like that’s the trend these days. I’m not a fan of the change either, but what can we do about it? It’s a decision that has been made and now we have to deal with the change, like many other things in life. Put your big kid pants on and go with it!


February 20th, 2011
8:00 am

@Pete – “serious runners” as you call them are likely to be members of the Atlanta Track Club and are given an early registration period before the lottery. I don’t see the field being hurt by this process where runners will be shut out and more walkers allowed in.

Gen Neyland

February 20th, 2011
8:35 am

After last years PRR I began to wonder if a bandit should be considered a lower life form than the ones that broke the rule of moving to faster time Waves from the lower end of the alphabet. It gnawed on me that those folks took up space in a Wave they didn’t belong…
As far as the longer sign up period goes, we’re still gonna see runners jilted on their start times. For many it won’t truly matter to move from D to E but for those that get moved back and play by the rules to see K,M,T’s hanging in the D corral is pitiful…


February 20th, 2011
11:14 pm

How lame is this decision! So much for our 4th of July annual event!