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.