As we continue to march forward to the Peachtree I thought it might be helpful to re-post a series of entries I did a few years ago about my experiences with the Peachtree. I hope you enjoy.
Now, I know what you are saying. A whole post dedicated to the start. Yes, a whole post dedicated to the start. Trying to get 60,000 runners out of the start area takes some time. This is one of those things that I think the race staff does really well. This is also something that they have gotten better at.
Many moons ago in my first race with my Dad we were lined up back in our corral. A long way from the start line. Let me say it again, a long way from the start line. In fact if I made a guess we were at least 1/2 a mile from the start line. It seemed like more. We think what they were supposed to do and what they did do were different. What they were supposed to do is to walk us to the start line. What happened is they dropped the rope and told us to go ahead. We looked at each other and wondered, “When did we signed up for a 7 mile race!?
Over the years they have found a way to help make it work. When you have 60,000 runners over a 6.2 mile course it is going to get crowded at some point. Thats the facts of life. Also, how do you create that great starting line excitement for each runner?
Back in the day they were about 8-9 different starting groups and each group would have their own start. This worked really well. At least for the first mile the course was not too bad from a crowd perspective and each group was able to get that same exciting start. Now they have broken up the corrals into letters all the way down to Y. They have 21 different start times. From 730am to 905am.
The past few years I have had the benefit of the sub seed start time but I do remember one of the coolest things to see at the start was watching the groups in front of you get going. First you would see thousands of runners and the next thing you know those heads are bouncing up and down. From a half mile away you could see those groups starting by watching the heads. It is a really cool site to see. Second was when you moved forward. You might have been sitting in your corral all morning and the very first time they begin to march you toward the start line the buzz just picked up in your group of runners. If you start in the back, every single time you move forward it gets more exciting with every step.
In my first few years running everyone was lined up down Peachtree Road. Now they have groups lined up on side streets as well so you don’t go as far down Peachtree Road as you did before.
With every step you take forward there is more cheering from the runners and more excitement building. The start line is just in front of Lenox Mall on Peachtree Road. As you started further back the one constant you could always see was the giant United States Flag. As you move forward it got bigger and bigger until you moved underneath it for the start.
Now, it does not matter that the race is already over if you started in the back. It does not matter how many runners have crossed the start line in front of you. This is your race. This is your 10k. This is your Peachtree Road Race. Now you are ready to run!
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