Is it really runners versus walkers in the Peachtree numbers game?

And so it begins. March 15th is the day everything changes for the AJC Peachtree Road Race. I could reach for an easy Ides of March Shakespeare quip. But given the tone of recent blog comments from runners upset about the new random system for allocating bibs to runners on Peachtree this July 4th, a literary reference to Shirley Jackson’s “The Lottery” seems more appropriate.
Many commenters on this earlier blog worried they will be shut out of the road race bib lottery, held from March 15th through the 24th. A recurring theme is the thousands of people who walk the course every year will be responsible for displacing them. If the runners didn’t call for public stoning, as in Jackson’s short story, they at least expressed a level of contempt for people who walk the course I didn’t realize existed.
For example, from DS: “DO NOT LIKE! I will be EXTREMELY P**SED if I don’t get in and some STUPID WALKER does.”
I set a goal last year of running the race under an hour, which would be my best time in decades. I missed finishing in under an hour by a skinny second, but came back a couple of months later to cover my goal during a Peachtree qualifier.
Still, I need only look back as far as July 2009 to recall a Peachtree when it took me about 75 minutes to run the 6.2 miles. For a few years before that I “ran” on July 4th with a friend trying to make it from Lenox to Piedmont Park despite a bum knee. It took us about an hour and a half.
I’m not an apologist for people who don’t challenge themselves and loaf down Peachtree just to get a shirt. I wish people who walk the Peachtree, especially those who slow-walk the whole thing, would observe race etiquette and stay to the right side of the road. I surely would have met my under-60-minute Peachtree goal last year if I hadn’t had to keep slamming on the brakes to keep from running up the back of a walker.
But if someone who gave it their best shot gives out on Cardiac Hill and begins to walk in front of me, I chalk that up to the nature of a “race” that invites people of all abilities to set a personal fitness goal.
The lottery for the 2011 AJC Peachtree Road Race is on. I’m not going to be to be among the first to register for the lottery, I’ll sign up later. But you early birds – please share thoughts about your registration experience this year. And if you want to weigh in about runner versus walkers, you can exercise your Independence Day free speech rights below.

45 comments Add your comment

Miss Atlanta Falcons

March 15th, 2011
6:51 am

The people who complain about runners must forget at one point in their life they were walkers first. It’s called the Peachtree Road Race…it is not the Peachtree Road Run! It is such an elitest attitude to believe that anyone who wants to participate should wait until they can run it. Then when you get that wish you’ll complain about the people who don’t run as fast as you THINK they should. Yeah their may be some etiquette issues with walkers but isnt the same true for LIFE! A lack of Road Race etiquette seems a convient excuse as to why a person didn’t complete a goal. I am a walker and proud to have completed my 1st peachtree 2 years ago and have made it a tradition. This will be my 3rd year registering and one day i hope to be a runner. But until I am physically able to do so, I will walk the hell out of the Peachtree Road Race, Collect my t-shirt, and thank God for allowing me to do something I never though I would be able to do in the first place. Walk from Perimeter mall to Piedmont park and live to tell the story. Anybody that doesnt like it can kick rocks…before,during, or after the road race…
Happy Moving @ your own pace and completing your personal goals and good luck in getting in! (Cry babies)

Wes Breeding

March 15th, 2011
6:53 am

If the walkers or slower runners would be in the group that they belong it would open the race up for everyone to do their best. The people that are on the course between the start and the one mile mark and jump-in the race seem to be the problem. If you are going to jump-in after the start at least wait for your number group to come by. Does anyone know a person that has not got the Peachtree Shirt?


March 15th, 2011
7:35 am

It’s not the walkers who line up near the back that I have issues with, it’s the people who jump in a quarter mile to 2 miles into the race. Every single year you see hundreds of people with numbers standing on the side of the road for the 1st couple miles, ready to jump in when they feel like it. Easier said than done I know, but ideally the Peachtree should have volunteers along the course looking for that and writing down numbers, and the jumpers should be banned from the Peachtree for several years if they get caught doing that. It’s a 10k, not an 8 or 9k.

And if you absolutely have zero conscience and jump in, at least wait for your proper group to do so!

Jeff Gebhardt

March 15th, 2011
7:37 am

Miss Atlanta Falcon. This is not about runners versus walkers, this is about the system that has been in place for years. If you race your best and you walk it then that is fine but you are so rare. Thousands walk this casually and more than likely thousands more will now. This is a race and it is a race to get your best time and not walk casually chatting with a friend. If you are actually racing, walking or running, then you do not have a chance to hold a conversation because you should be out of breath. The disappointing thing here is that those of us who have raced to get the paper and raced to get our application in the mail for years now stand a real good chance of being left out and we lose our spot to a walker who is not racing. That is the problem. You spoke of the lack of road race etiquette and yet here you are calling names, who really has the etiquette. I am a runner, walker, and biker and I love traditions and unfortunately The Peachtree Road Race lost a lot of its tradition this year.

K Smith

March 15th, 2011
8:17 am

I moved to Ga july 4th of 2008. I heard about the Peachtree and thought, “Hmm, that sounds like fun, maybe next year”. In 2009 I again thought “Next year”, but didn’t start running. Again in 2010, only this time I started running. I went from barely being able to run for 2 minutes to completing my first 5K in Nov. Now I run 3-4 days a week, sometimes more. I was really looking forward to running my first Peachtree, finally, and I’m disappointed that there’s a chance it wont happen.


March 15th, 2011
8:18 am

I don’t mind people walking the Peachtree. They have as much right to be in the Peachtree as anyone else. The Peachtree is a lot of fun for both runners and walkers. What bothers me are the walkers that are inconsiderate enough to ignore the instructions to stay in the far right lanes. I understand that a lot of people get tired on Cardiac Hill. However, there is a big difference between walking SOME of Cardiac Hill in the left lanes and walking MOST of the 10K in the far left lane. I certainly don’t want to leave the impression that I’m an elitist. I’d need to have a much faster time for me to have the right to be an elitist. My point is that there could be safety issues if people insist on walking most of the Peachtree in the far left lanes. 55,000+ is a lot of people and injuries can occur if people ignore race etiquette.


March 15th, 2011
8:18 am

There is no reason not to give preference to those with a qualifier time of less than an hour or even an hour and fifteen minutes (which is about what it takes to be in the top 25,000).

It’s even the best thing for the track club, and peoples health in general. If you want to run the Peachtree, why not run the other great 10k’s all around Atlanta?


March 15th, 2011
8:25 am

Join the Atlanta Track Club and register early to get your bib # as well as valuable training tips, running partners, discounts on ATC races, etc. If you’re a runner, why aren’t you supporting the running club that puts this on? Just sayin…


March 15th, 2011
8:47 am

I have a little trouble taking most newspaper commenters seriously, especially when they write things like “You should have sticked with the ‘First come, first served’ way.” The lottery system seems like the best way to address the issues that the ATC has had with online registration the past two years.


March 15th, 2011
8:54 am

I think this is being overblown. I have just registered for what will hopefully be my 6th PTRR since moving to Atlanta in 2001. There was 1 time since then that I did not get in. They increased to 55,000 and I believe, based on 2010 numbers, there is potentially 1,000 individuals that might not get in. I do like the suggestion from Chris above that, if you are submitting a qualifying time, those individuals should be given bibs before walkers. For those complaining about walkers, consider the fact that at least they are getting out and doing some form of exercise. Kudos to all that participate. Hope to see you there this year.


March 15th, 2011
9:21 am

I’ve run the Peachtree for many years, and have never had any problem getting a number…but I don’t understand why the change in registration procedures this year. I thought the online registration the past two years was great, and a huge improvement over the older method of waiting late at night for the newspaper and having to mail in the registration first thing…
I’m having to do a “group” registration this year because my 13 year old daughter ran her first Peachtree last year (in under an hour), and I don’t want her to get a number and me not get one…don’t want her to have to run by herself! Hopefully we’ll get in!
WALKERS…PLEASE JUST STAY TO THE RIGHT, GO WITH YOUR GROUP, AND START AT THE STARTING LINE, THEN NO ONE WILL HAVE REASON TO COMPLAIN! Everyone has a right to participate, and hey…if someone wants to walk for 90 minutes on a hot July morning to get a t-shirt and enjoy the festivities…at least they’re getting 90 minutes of exercise!

Gen Neyland

March 15th, 2011
9:51 am

The PRR has become it’s own worst enemy by working hard to remain The World’s Largest 10K. Last year, I felt the PRR was evolving to try and accomodate the Runner’s amongst us. Sadly, as I stood in my earned Start Wave F, I saw too many bib numbers that moved forward from LMNOP etc to join us. Those people rank up there with bandits, IMHO. My suggestion to the ajc and ATC is to MANDATE a qualifying time for runners upon registration ala the Boston Marathon. Become more aware and strict in keeping the people honestly in their prescribed Start Waves. As for the Walkers, Run-Walkers and Runners w/o times to submit, I have no problem. Just sort them out accordingly. We’re truly running against the clock with the timing chip in the PRR nowadays. All can be accomodated but it’ll mean enforcement of the PRR’s own policies. A good time can be had by all when the rules are followed.


March 15th, 2011
9:55 am

What is the problem? If you are faster, enter a qualifying time and get put in the proper order. The Track Club has gone to great effort to organize starting waves for a reason. Besides, this event (world’s largest 10k) was 55000 people, inceased to 60000. You think you are going to PR in Atlanta in July? Really? I have done 100s of race across the globe. This event is affectionately refered to as a “pa-race”, as in a parade/race.
I love this event. It is my favorite thing about this city. Y’all don’t screw it up by fussing.


March 15th, 2011
10:09 am

So I understand the lottery gives ‘consideration’ to anyone who’s run PRR 10 timers or more. Does that mean if you enter as a group, as opposed to as an individual, that ‘consideration’ will transfer to the whole group, even though some of them may not have run the race 10 times?

David L

March 15th, 2011
10:15 am

I am a walker, not a runner. I have two bad knees, one with virtually no cartilage. I have been wanting to “do” the Peachtree for years but had surgery on my left knee three years ago and surgery on my right knee two years ago. Last year was my first Peachtree. My goal was to average 15 minute miles (total time 1 hour 33 minutes) – by no stretch a casual walk. I completed the race in 1 hour and 27 minutes and beat my goal. Unless I have a knee replacement, I will never be able to “run” the race. I’d like the runners out there to tell me why I should be excluded from the opportunity to participate.


March 15th, 2011
10:19 am

If getting into the Peachtree is THAT IMPORTANT then you should pay the $35 a year to join the Atlanta Track Club. You’re guaranteed admission into the race.

Seems like an extra $35 is a small price to pay to avoid the stress of possibly not getting in.

Gen Neyland

March 15th, 2011
10:36 am

Eileen : I understand your sentiments but the issue isn’t about PR’s at the PRR. Yes, it’s a great time at the PRR but can be made a better time for people that play fairly, are placed squarely and allow the Runners out there that came to race the course the opportunity to race the course. They should be awarded the privledge to do so just like the seeded and the elites up front or the walkers in the back. To be a runner encumbered by the lumbering is a bummer when the runner straps on a timing chip, PR or not. Go do the U.S. 10K Classic in Cobb County and see what I mean..! It’s a hard race where those that know their capabilities stay outta of the way of the Jack Rabbits, especially at the start.


March 15th, 2011
10:38 am

Some of you take this way too seriously.

Reid in EAV

March 15th, 2011
10:50 am

The problem with this thread is that we’re not going to hear from the people who are actually the problem: those who aren’t in any semblance of shape and who casually stroll the entire course, usually somewhere in the middle of the road. People who walk briskly because they can’t run the whole way, for whatever reason — no problem. But I think the running community is up in arms because after some of us have gone to the trouble to run qualifiers and get start wave placements (which I did a few weeks back at the Charles Harris 10K) might not get a number in the lottery system, while a casual walker might. That just seems wrong.

Granted, it’s not a huge issue, because ATC membership by Feb. 28 will take care of it (and you get a lot more than preferred P’tree placement with membership; a good deal for a serious runner — I joined up myself) but while a lottery is “fair” (i.e. equally unfair) to all, it isn’t entirely fair to those who plan to race the course.


March 15th, 2011
10:53 am

Eileen: As someone who has ran the PRR and qualified and lined up in my starting corral it doesn’t take a genious to look around and notice that the “E” corral is filled with people from the J,K,L or farther back corrals.

The issue is that people do take the time to qualify, yet the volunteers do not supervise the corrals properly. Truthfully, if the volunteers would do their job and tell the person with the K on their bib to not get in the E corral a lot of the conjestion wouldn’t happen. And like others have mentioned, participants line the street and decide when they want to hop in and finish… that too needs to be monitored.

Yes, this should be a fun event but the inability to RACE a race makes you want to think twice about doing it again.

Gen Neyland

March 15th, 2011
10:57 am

Annette : Some of us are serious runners…

Team Runners

March 15th, 2011
11:00 am

I understand that people have certain medical problems and I am impressed that they continue to participate in the race. However, it is called the “Peachtree Road Race”….RACE….

I wish it wouldn’t come down to this. But I think it is crazy that a person who never trains for this race and walks it in 2 hours gets in over a person who puts the work in and gives it their best effort..


March 15th, 2011
11:35 am

The people that have previously ran/walked the race and are upset that they will lose the lottery this year should try again next year if they don’t get in. It really is that simple.


March 15th, 2011
12:24 pm

Walkers are fine, as long as they follow the rules and start with their time group just like everyone else.

The only problem I have are the people who jump on to the course in the last mile and start walking when the faster runners haven’t even finished yet.


March 15th, 2011
12:53 pm

I’m not seeing how this year’s PRR lottery system is any different from the lottery system from years past when you had to get the paper and submit your entry in the mail. Was that not a lottery system, too?

If I get in, this will be my 9th PRR. For the first time I submitted a qualifying time and I’m hoping that will get me in before someone who does not submit a time. If it does, great. If it doesn’t, I’ll be disappointed but it’s not the end of the world.


March 15th, 2011
3:06 pm

Its not the elitist attitude of runners; its the entitled attitude of walkers that cannot bother to follow the rules. I run, but if a faster runner is behing me I move over….is that too tough to figure out? Explains our traffic problems as well…..

Marni Matyac

March 15th, 2011
3:39 pm

As a racewalker, I really hate being looked down upon. I train. I do speed work, just like runners do. I turned in a qualifying time to get into the appropriate wave. I stay to the right until I start smoking the casual walkers. Stop whining. If you want a guaranteed entry, join the ATC. I grudgingly did. But at least I’ll be in ATL on race day.


March 15th, 2011
4:03 pm

Join the ATC and avoid the lottery, plus you get great opportunities to run races all year and you get the support of coaches and mentors. Look at your running as a year long endeavor and not just one day in July.

Gen Neyland

March 16th, 2011
7:31 am

As a NE GA runner that makes few treks into Atlanta proper for any reason, much less the surrounding area to chase their events, I wouldn’t fiscally benefit from joining the ATC even for guaranteed entry to the PRR. Therefore, I’ll submit to the lottery and hope for the best that I, (A) Get in (B) Get my proper Start Wave (C) Have a good time running with like-minded individuals…

Aspring Runner

March 16th, 2011
11:33 am

I don’t have a problem with walkers participating, but agree with earlier comments that people who are slower (including runners) need to move to the right. I think they have the right to participate just like the runners do. I personally have walked the PRR and enjoyed it greatly, and ran it for the first time last year. However, I did move to the right out of respect for others.

Based on the ATC seeding rules, if you submit a time, you’ll be grouped accordingly. Faster times, will give you an earlier start group. Slower times, later start groups. Most of these walkers and slower runners probably don’t participate in many races (if at all). But if they do, their times will likely be slower and they’ll be placed in the later groups. If they don’t have a time to submit, they will also be placed in the later groups. So, to echo an earlier comment, the real issue is the enforcement of the corrals to ensure people in the later groups don’t move up where they don’t belong. Given the new guidelines for the seeding, I hope that the ATC will put more emphasis on this aspect of the race. Regardless, I think things will flow much better than in the past.


March 16th, 2011
12:58 pm

I lived in ATL for 20 and always wanted to ‘DO’ the peachtree [I'm a walker and proud of it]. But never did. I shared the idea with a couple of girlfriends and they did it twice! I have since moved back home, but I was determined to scratch this off my list of things to do before I turn 50. Well last year I was a Peachtree Virgin[only 5 mins behind my girls]. Training for a better time this year.

Although I ended up in the medical tent from dehydration[poor planning] and lost 4 toenails, I want to do it again and again. Who knows maybe one year I will RUN, but it won’t be this year! ….I’ll be WALKING to the right! Giving you RUNNERS your props. :-) . The lottery…it is what it is. Will being MAD about it CHANGE anything? Release the negative, it dead weight! WHEN we get chosen…look for the OREO RACERS!!


March 16th, 2011
1:12 pm

The ATC is more than a club for elite runners; it’s an advocate for Georgia’s running community. I joined the ATC for that reason and others. My PRR prep started on 7/5/10 when I had to make decisions for the 2011 race. Not everyone is that interested in the sport and I wouldn’t expect them to be. I’m glad that runners and walkers of all abilities can participate. I’m especially happy that most of them will start the race behind me. I hope everyone PR’s and don’t forget to stretch.


March 16th, 2011
2:05 pm

Not sure how you prevent people jumping in without a fence the entire course. I would never do it but hundreds of folks seem to not mind not running the enitre distance. The t-shirt isn’t that great that I’d live with the dishonesty of not running the full race.

Question – lots of folks talking about people jumping up in corrals. How far back do they police? I’ve been subseeded and you are not getting in that area without being checked by a race volunteer to ensure you have the proper #. Looks that way for A and B too. Does that not go on through the last corral?


March 17th, 2011
5:13 am

Yogger, I was in “B” last year and it was controlled pretty well. However, once the race starts and those corrals further back start moving is when I think the problems start with “corral jumpers”

Duluth Rick

March 17th, 2011
11:24 am

Most walkers stay to the right. Runners who hate walkers have no business even being in the race.

I have a BIG complaint. I am a walker and ALWAYS stay to the right. This is my 10th Peachtree. Every year, there are runners who weave in and out of the walkers on the right. Some even try to pass on the sidewalk. When I see a shadow of a runner approaching on that side, I intentionally stretch my arms out with a clenched fist, to try and nail them right in the face. As much as walkers should stay to the right, self-righteous runners should stay on the left.

Re Duluth Rick

March 17th, 2011
12:29 pm

You are a loser. Why would you A. Walk in a race. B. Try to hurt someone who was actually trying to run in a race. I dont mind walkers. But people like you suck. Stay in Duluth and hate black people and runners.


March 18th, 2011
7:41 am

It appears the main issue isn’t whether walker’s are in the way of runner’s, but that a walker may get a spot instead of a runner. If this is your gripe – then join the ATC – they sure could use your support and you would have guaranteed placement in the race. I have entered the lottery and am hoping that I will be chosen. If I am, great, if not, then I will try again next year – but I would never bash on walkers just because I didn’t get a spot. Everyone has a right to participate in the race – whether they run, run/walk or walk – casually or not. It is not your place to dictate how individuals should run their race.

John McCosh

March 18th, 2011
9:23 am

Annnnnd the voice of reason award goes to….missy!

Donald Ruby

March 20th, 2011
8:14 am

The race would be a lot better if the walkers were in the back groups. And why limit the number of participants, just register all of the runners with legit times, then put all the walkers in back of them!!!!!!

jump stalker

March 20th, 2011
10:16 am

Why the fuss ? Join the ATC and get a bib. Alternatively you can jump in at the halfway point/ rip a bib off another runner and claim the T-shirt.


March 21st, 2011
8:43 am

This year will be my 4th Peachtree as a walker and let me say that in the previous 3 years I’ve participated, I’ve paid the same registration fee as everyone else, I’ve started in my number group, at the starting line, and I’ve stayed to the right as I was asked to. Despite my attempts to follow the “rules”, I still get bumped into by runners. So, to all of you runners out there….STAY TO THE LEFT!!!!!!!!!!!!

Athlete not chair warmer

March 21st, 2011
9:49 am

Why even join if you aren’t capable of at least finishing in under 50 minutes??? Should be a requirement to prove that you have ran in at least three 5 k’s the previous years with scores needed from all three in under 30 minutes or 1 5-k ran in the past 3 months where the runner ran in under 25 minutes. Far too many people clogging up the even and thus many of us have started to avoid the event. It is no longer a race…but a shed the poundage event.

re re Duluth Rick

March 21st, 2011
1:06 pm

To re Duluth Rick. I am black. I just get tired of all these self-righteous runners yelling at walkers to stay to the right out of their way, when their own compadres run on the right side weaving between walkers.

Hope I nail you good!


March 21st, 2011
3:00 pm

@ Athlete not chair warmer: This will be my 9th Peachtree. I’ve never walked any of them, but I’ve also never finished in under 50 minutes. Your attitude stinks. Frankly, I hope more people like you avoid it. Judging by the fact that they just expanded to 60,000, you won’t be missed.

[...] groups, right? For some, the answer is apparently: wrong. I expected it might stir the pot when I wrote last week about how some runners who train hard for the Peachtree feel about walkers, who they see [...]