Will tortoise and hare make nice with 2011 wave system?

One might have thought the introduction of a wave system in the 2010 AJC Peachtree Road Race would calm the conflicts between its runners and walkers. It at least was better than the former mostly random assignment of the majority of entries into nine larger 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 as a roadblock to a fast time.
Never mind last year’s Independence Day “race” was over before all but a small portion of the 55,000 Peachtree participants had cleared the giant blow up Uncle Sam in Buckhead. I’ve looked at the times for the first several groups from last year and I can’t imagine the road was clogged with walkers mixed in with people running from the D wave and higher.
I can confirm if you start further back and you want to run under an hour, you will be doing a lot of cutting and dodging. In my haste to register last year, I neglected to enter my qualifying time that would have landed me near the beginning of the alphabet.
As it turned out, the lottery made me a back-of-the-pack guy, an X-Man, (my bib, pictured here).
2010 bib I ran last year’s race in exactly 60 minutes. My recollection is that hour time qualified me for a “D” wave group, according to the 2010 wave standards. I ran a Peachtree qualifier in September and achieved a goal of finishing it faster than 57:30 specifically because that time would move me up to a Peachtree time group “C.” (I’m depending on my recall, because the innerwebs seem to have been scrubbed of 2010 Peachtree time wave evidence).
Now I see that the 2011 waves have been tweaked, leaving me half a minute short of qualifying for time wave “D.” Improving my time in September still moves me up a wave, but I wish I had known the standards were going to change.
Qualifying times are also required this year for waves much deeper into the field than last year, including up to more than two hours to get into the “W” group. Of course, “X” is always available for those who don’t have a qualifying time, as is the “Y” wave bringing up the rear.
I’m curious, are there many of you who were assigned to waves at the front end of the alphabet in 2010 who dealt with lots of people leisurely walking the course from the beginning? It’s hard to believe, but I can’t say for sure because my view from my start back in Brookhaven last year was a little obstructed.

41 comments Add your comment

Mike Brown

March 22nd, 2011
7:08 am

Here’s the fix. People need to hear loud and clear that if you walk or stop to walk-get to the right side of the road. However, people have yet to figure this out on I-75 in Atlanta who have driven it all their life so I wouldn’t expect them to figure it out at a race if they don’t do it often. If you run and you see 4 people lined up to the left holding hands and singing-yell at them and tell them to get to the right.

HeatherP

March 22nd, 2011
7:13 am

While this has been a complaint of mine in the past, last year I started in the D wave & don’t recall having a problem with walkers. With a smaller number of people in each wave, I was actually able to maneuver through slower runners very easily. In addition, I improved my time by nearly 4 minutes from the previous year & should be in the C wave this year. So, yes, it was a vast improvement!

Marius Maximus

March 22nd, 2011
7:21 am

I started at the back of Wave A last year. There were more runners who qualified for Wave A than could fit in the corral, and when the race started, some of us had to wait on the sidewalk until enough runners had moved away to make some for us to enter the corral. I then walked up to the start and waited a full minute to give the other runners a bit of time to separate before crossing the start line and beginning to run. As it turned out, that had been a good idea, but I might have waited longer. As I dodged and weaved and accelerated through the foot traffic, I was appalled at the number of people who were walking. WALKING. In Wave A. Perhaps twenty percent of the people in that wave walked at least part of the way – and perhaps another 25% ran significantly slower than their start wave placement might have suggested. This last factoid made me wonder whether the requirements were too lax. I think one can turn in a time from a race in the past two years – if so, that might be too long. Perhaps the large number of too-slow runners were people who had been at a certain level of fitness two years prior to this Peachtree, but had been not been separated from their couch in the last year? This year I have qualified for the sub-seeded group which is much smaller and hopefully faster. If not, that would just provide additional incentive to qualify top-seeded in 2012. :)

Diana

March 22nd, 2011
7:21 am

I actually have the start wave times from last year saved into a PDF that I can share if anyone’s interested. Last year they showed qualifying times for every start wave on the original chart, but it was modified later once (I assume) they saw that tons of people didn’t have qualifying times. I actually have both versions of last year’s chart- the pre registration and final start wave assignments. I had the same problem, I was going for Group A based on last year’s times, but I ended up in Group B from this year’s changes.

Murph

March 22nd, 2011
7:23 am

I had a 2009 P’tree time of 58 and was put in corral E for 2010. I did encounter a LOT of walkers which I was surprised to find. I was running the race to earn a PR, not for recreation so it was frustrating. Most frustrating was the really large group of ‘runners’ who thought it was funny to stop at the traffic lights when they were red and not move until they were green. There must have been 15-20 people in this group and I don’t understand how they could have been seeded so high, and if they did indeed earn their spots individually I would think that they would have more courtesy than to pull that stunt and block the way for the runners behind them. It was not funny. My 2010 time was 48 mins so I am hoping to get into a higher corral this year and not have to deal with so many walkers and this particular group of yahoos.

onefinshy

March 22nd, 2011
7:26 am

it’s not the walkers, it’s the n00bs who start the race about mile 2 or 3. cheaters and punks!

John

March 22nd, 2011
7:39 am

I have been in Time group 1a or wave A in the last 6 years and yes I encountered walkers. I have found that many of them are jumpers that decided to start a couple of blocks down the road instead of with their wave. For whatever reason, the figure that if they start earlier they will finish earlier. They would finish even quicker if they ran the course. But they want the shirt without the work that it entails.
I actually ran a sub 50 minute race last year and when I crossed the finish, the guy next to me had a wave G bib on. And he was not even sweating – Obviously a jumper.

Diana

March 22nd, 2011
7:48 am

I think for a lot of people, Peachtree is seen as more of an event than a race. I ran in Group E last year. I didn’t have a ton of trouble with walkers and was able to run the whole race without being forced to walk at all. I know there are people who will run a fast qualifier just to get up in the front, but they really just want to enjoy the Peachtree and not worry about rushing thru it and really racing.

Steve

March 22nd, 2011
8:07 am

My first Peachtree was 2009, and I ended up in Group 8 (the second to last group that year). I tried to run, but encountered countless walkers along the course including one woman who stopped to tie her shoe in front of me! (we collided). So the comment by Mike Brown on educating folks not to stop is well taken.

That said, I was warned by an accomplished runner I know from Atlanta that the Peachtree is more “event” than race (he avoids the Peachtree entirely). So I wasn’t that surprised.

Last year I qualified for the A wave, and what a difference it made. Unlike Marius Maximus above, I placed myself mid-pack in the A group and had little problem crossing the starting line. While the start was as crowded as any major race it was a totally different experience, and I took 7 minutes off my time from 2009.

In neither 2009 or 2010 did I PR, but then again, this isn’t the race for that. But in my experience the start waves have greatly helped those that want to run the race.

staytotheright

March 22nd, 2011
8:23 am

PLEASE!!! If,and at this point it is a big IF,That can happen,It will be a great day for all of us! Thank you very much!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Annette

March 22nd, 2011
8:27 am

I ran in Wave C last year with a qualifying time of 57:xx. It was fabulous. I actually finished the 2010 race earlier than I started the 2009 race (Group 9). For the most part, everyone around me was running. I did take a few walk breaks (on the right side of the road; don’t hate me!). There was very little dodging.

Honestly I don’t get too up in arms about having to dodge other runners and walkers. What do you think you’re going to get in a race with 55K+ participants? My biggest motivation to get into an early start wave is to beat the heat, and running at 7:45 am is a million times better than running at 9 am.

It looks like my time will qualify me for Wave E this year, which I’m sure will still be fine. I think the ATC is doing a great job.

Chris

March 22nd, 2011
8:55 am

Runners worrying about walkers are assuming they even make it past the lottery at all.

Andrea

March 22nd, 2011
9:06 am

While I didn’t encounter a ton of walkers posing a problem, there were MAJOR traffic jams for these reasons:
1) Water stations, people would take a cup and stop to drink it AT the table.
2) Moes throwing T- Shirts – There was a huge group of people standing with arms up that took up half the road
3) Water Sprinklers – the entire pack would shift to avoid running through the fire hoses causing major backups.

I was dissapointed in this race to find the lack of care for people to actually complete the whole race course. Have a cross point for every mile that has to register to get a T-Shirt if that’s the problem.

But the most dissapointing was improving my time all year only to find I’m now two waves back from last year. :(

Annette

March 22nd, 2011
9:32 am

Andrea–simple fix. Run another USATF-certified race (any distance between 5K and half marathon is accepted) to get a better qualifying time for next year. I guarantee you that if you run a smaller race in cooler weather, you will finish faster than you do in the Peachtree.

PJ

March 22nd, 2011
10:20 am

I run about an hour pace (10 min. mile) in all 10K’s including the Peachtree. My first 2 years, though I am not the fastest, I was surprised at how much weaving I had to do but it wasn’t always walkers. Sometimes the runners will just stop to tie their shoe, spit, grab food from the sidelines or weave right in front of you to pass without looking. I think everyone in every race could learn some etiquette lessons. I run 99% of the race but I do take occasional walk breaks but before I cross to walk or stop, I always glance over my shoulder and make sure I am not cutting anyone off or walking right in front of someone. I also look before I spit too ha! I do this in every race I do, even a 5K. There will always be “cheaters” and we can’t do anything about unfortunately but if everyone would just be a little more thoughtful and just have fun and enjoy the race things would be better. I too, with this said, did not have near as much trouble with the new start waves as the 2 years previously. Oh one more note, if you are running/walking in a big group, get to the right side also, don’t take up the whole lane trying to stay side-by-side. See everyone in July! :-)

Nancy

March 22nd, 2011
10:23 am

Having to weave in and around walkers who insist on walking 4-5 abreast in the middle of the road can be quite frustrating, and folks who intend to walk or walk/run really need stay to the right out of respect to faster runners, and (more importantly) for safety reasons.

But the slower runners and walkers are not the only rude ones; one occasion I was stuck behind a group of slow runners running on the left, and while waiting for a good, safe opportunity to get around them, have been yelled and AND ACTUALLY SHOVED by a runner who was in turn trying to get around us. That is not at all in the spirit of what the PRR is all about.

As an Atlanta resident who has run the PRR many times over the past 25+ years, I find it crazy that anyone would seriously consider trying for a PR in this event-if that is your only goal, and you are not fast enough to qualify for one of the faster waves, you should REALLY consider skipping the PRR and find a smaller 10K. It’s more of a party than a race; going into with this expectation, as opposed to the expectation to run your fastest 10K, will greatly add to your overall experience.

nora

March 22nd, 2011
11:10 am

I have just about given up on the Peachtree because of the cheaters. Those walkers you encounter in the faster time groups are obviously some of those folks who think the rules don’t apply to them and jump in ahead of their group. I remember a couple of years ago seeing a reporter talking to people “running” (okay, walking) up Cardiac Hill wearing TG 9 bibs while the time clock on the screen indicated that their TG hadn’t even left the corral yet. CHEATERS! Although I’m not a fast runner (60-65 min 10K) I do run a qualifying race so I can earn the time group appropriate for my speed and I DON’T appreciate the CHEATERS jumping in wherever they please. I think they are sorry losers who don’t make the effort of qualifying for their spot and then just flaunt the rules and jump ahead of everyone else who is running where they are supposed to be. Just sayin….

cat friend

March 22nd, 2011
11:30 am

what’s the protocol for an entrant who turned in a proper time (1:15) but due to injury may need to walk instead? IF I get in, should I purposely start in the last wave?

runwalker

March 22nd, 2011
12:53 pm

I suspect they could eliminate a large number of the problems with people starting ahead of their scheduled time group if they either eliminate the “coveted” t-shirt altogether, or simply give them out at the expo. I bet if they did either of these there would be at least 5,000 fewer official finishers. Personally, I find the PRR shirts to be some of my least favorite of any of the races I do (12+ per year) so I know I wouldn’t miss it.

Diana

March 22nd, 2011
12:56 pm

@cat friend:I think that since you earned that time you earned the right to start in the earlier group. If you’re going to walk, just stay over to the side No reason to make yourself wait so late and in the crazy summer heat when you earned the right to start sooner.

nora

March 22nd, 2011
4:39 pm

@runwalker: I concur. My “coveted” (not so much) Peachtree shirts are stuffed in the bottom of a drawer only to be worn as nighties once in a while. Otherwise I have no use for them. There are lots of race tees that I wear for working out, but those aren’t any good for that being 100% cotton. And I don’t feel any pride wearing it because anyone who paid an entry fee basically gets the shirt – all they’ve got to do is show up at the finish line. The shirt doesn’t necessarily indicate that a person RAN the Peachtree, but just that they signed up and “participated”. Big deal.

Susan

March 22nd, 2011
6:19 pm

I will be a walker; a first time walker. I have worked very hard to be able to walk this race. I’ve never been a runner; but have worked extremely hard walking Kennesaw Mountain 4 days per week. I’m a former smoker. I found my healthy side late in life (age 53). This is now on my bucket list of things to do…so yes I paid the Track Club to be sure I was able to register; I don’t apologize for any of this. I’m sure everyone has his/her own personal reason for completing the Peachtree. When I leave this world, I would like for my children and grandchildren to look back at what seemed to be an unattainable goal for me and remember that I made it. I will be in back of the pack; so I am sure I will not impede a runner.

Diana

March 22nd, 2011
9:38 pm

@susan: Congrats, it’s such a great accomplishment to be able to complete a 10k! I hope you have a great Peachtree!!

Gen Neyland

March 23rd, 2011
6:38 am

With times being adjusted for runners with more serious intent on running the PRR, I give those responsible for tweaking the Start Waves credit. It shows that they are putting the word ‘Race’ back in the PRR. No matter where you qualify, it’s a personal accomplishment to be placed. For those that fail to adhere to their Start Wave time and move forward to run with family or friends instead of having them move back to join you like you’re suppose to do, may you get knocked to the ground and trampled (I’m kidding. May you just get bumped around really hard a time or two)…

BlahBlahBlah

March 23rd, 2011
10:29 am

1. I was in Group B last year, and there were few walkers and most of them were on the right. If you run right down the middle of the road you’re mostly fine.

2. If you run the Peachtree to try to get a 10K PR, you are a fool. Run the Sizzler in September, or any number of fast, flat courses during the year if you want a PR.

DW

March 23rd, 2011
10:31 am

I was in Group C last year with a time of 55 min. and was hopeful that being towards the front would eliminate a lot of the dodging and weaving, but I have to say that I thought the waves made things worse, at least for the first half of the race. Not because there were more walkers, but because you are running with a large group of people who have a very similar pace. I felt like I was running with my start pack for nearly two miles or more before things started really spreading out. As annoying as the walkers/slow joggers are, I was probably even more annoyed by being stuck in a pack for 2 plus miles.

BlahBlahBlah

March 23rd, 2011
10:33 am

@ Susan, you have nothing to apologize about. Congratulations to you! (just stay to the right please!)

ARGHH

March 23rd, 2011
6:49 pm

What bothers me about the lottery is the number of people who have NO INTENTIONS on running but just looking for a way to make a buck. Watch for all the numbers on ebay and craig’s list. Some even qualify for a time group, know they won’t run, and advertise “finish early”. That’s where some of the walkers come in.

nora

March 24th, 2011
7:45 am

Now that they have chip timing, I would never transfer my number (not that I would have anyway). I don’t want an official time recorded that I didn’t run! And if I were the runner buying the number, I would know that the time I ran would come up under someone else’s name. What is the point of that? I guess I just don’t get it….

cat friend

March 25th, 2011
9:36 am

@Susan – congrats! I’ve seen the health benefits, too, even at my dismal pace. I halved my BP medication. I’ve also watched a neighborhood stroke victim recover from a very odd walking gait to proudly wearing her Peachtree shirt as she scoots up and down some very steep nearby hills.
@nora – those tee shirts can be turned into a great looking memory quilt, too….

slipperyslope

March 25th, 2011
12:17 pm

This will be my first PRR, too (I hope). I don’t have a qualifying time, so I’ll be in one of the last waves. This has always been something I wanted to do, but didn’t run any qualifying races first. My goal is to run as much as I can, but will walk when needed. I’ll try to stay to the right, and apologize in advance if I mess this up for anyone! I’m a newer runner-started last year to lose baby weight. I’m addicted, so am hopeful that I get in the lottery.

treadster

March 27th, 2011
7:58 pm

I know that for many the PRR is an event but for me it’s a race. It’s a big race. I also know that I’ll never win. Part of the appeal is that I get to compete with (not against) some of the best runners in the world. I image it’s like playing a round of golf with Tiger Woods or tennis with one (or both) of the Williams sisters. In 2010 I started in the “A” group. I should be sub-seeded this year. Walkers were not much of a problem for me but I don’t expect to PR. I hope everybody has a good race/walk.

Kathy

March 28th, 2011
6:04 am

Okay…..emails are going out confirming registration. I DID NOT GET IN! I have run 6 times prior, you think that would count for something AND I submitted a time. My friend who has never run got in!!!! This lottery crap SUCKS!!!

Gen Neyland

March 28th, 2011
7:52 am

Kathy : I’ve run 7 PRR’s and decided not to enter this years event. I love the atmosphere and all but opted to try a real race or two somewhere along the way instead of the gala event. Don’t be upset. For most of us/them, it’s only about a T-shirt anyway. Better luck next year. Go get a great 10K time this year and boost your odds for a front start wave in 2012…

Gen Neyland

March 28th, 2011
7:56 am

…and if joining the ATC becomes partial-specific criteria to get into the wallowing stampede of slow movers and corral jumpers, I’ve run my last one. I do buy an occassional ajc. Could that help me get in..?

John

March 28th, 2011
8:16 am

I didn’t get in. I was part of a group that applied. We all submitted times. I would enjoy hearing how many people applied for a spot.

Marie

March 28th, 2011
11:51 am

Really are people complaining about run/walkers? This is the largest 10K in the USA. You have to assume there will be walkers. And as much as you don’t like it, many of them have never been in a “race” before, so they do not know the proper etiquette. The PRR itself even discourages people from attempting to PR on this race. With this amount of participants, it is virtually impossible. Go, run and have a good time. And please forgive those who to don’t know what how to act. This is their one day to be active. You have the entire year and countless other races to be competitive and PR. This is probably the one time a year these people go out and do something active.

Kathy

March 28th, 2011
11:56 am

Gen Neyland…..I think what blows the most is that my friend, whom I planned to run with this year, got in and she is a first timer, but I did not get in (would have been #7 for me).

John….sorry for your group. My friend and I did not apply as a group because we thought we’d have a better chance at singles.

I am just disappointed. I never had a problem with the paper app or the online process.

RunningMan

March 28th, 2011
12:44 pm

I am a first timer and I got in, finally. I’ll be in corral B. I have applied before but was never selected (via mail-in registration, as I couldn’t be on the internet at an exact time on an exact day to register online). I don’t expect a PR, but want to do as best as I can. Dealing with traffic/left-side walkers may get me quite aggrivated, as I have never run a race this size. Other runners I know avoid this race because of it’s size, but I feel like have have to do it at least once.

Hearing about the cheaters/jumpers, I think having timing mats at every mile would work. The volunteers handing out the t-shirts could enter your bib # into the computer system and only give out shirts if times were available at every check point.

Justin

March 28th, 2011
3:31 pm

I did not get in either…disappointed. Would like to know total number of applicants to see who else feels my sorrow.

[...] Race confirmation email Monday morning before people started complaining in the comments section of last week’s blog post that they lost the lottery. Race organizers confirm that expanding the race by 5,000 runners to [...]