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Be a Peach March 3, 2011

Posted by bettyjoan in Races, Running.
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So, the big (relatively recent) news in the Atlanta running community is that the Peachtree Road Race went and changed its longstanding registration procedures.  Previously, it was a first-come, first-served kind of situation, where runners would either mail in the paper registration form or brave the online system.  There were many complaints about online registration in particular – the system just couldn’t seem to handle the volume, meaning that there were crashes and lots of unhappy un-registered people.  Truthfully, had I not lucked out and gotten early registration through a friend, I probably would not have been able to register for last year’s Peachtree – on the day that online sign-up opened, I went straight from working a water stop at the ING Marathon (don’t even get me started on the fact that PRR registration was on the same day of a HUGE local race) to getting on an airplane to Utah, and I definitely don’t think that weak-ass inflight internet would have been able to hack it.

Now, there will be an online lottery from March 15 through March 24, and people can enter as individuals or as groups (you have an equal shot either way).  By the end of March, 60,000 lucky folks will be notified that they get to run the 2011 Peachtree Road Race.  Other than Atlanta Track Club members and one or two other “special consideration” groups, everyone has the same odds of getting in.  Seems fair, right?  When I heard the news, I felt like it was as good a way to do it as anything – it’s impartial, and since there is a 10-day window, the computers AND peoples’ schedules should be able to accomodate the requests.

Unfortunately, the backlash of the change has been…well, this.  Basically, the “serious runners” are lashing out at the “walkers” (oh noes, not the walkers!!!) for taking all the spots in this prestigious “race.”  The commentary has gotten pretty nasty, as you can see – to the point where my husband, who normally lets stuff like this roll off his back, said something to the effect of, “If THOSE are the kinds of people running the Peachtree, I don’t think I want to be a part of it.”

According to its very own website, “The AJC Peachtree Road Race has distinguished itself as one of the premiere Fourth of July traditions in Atlanta with its festive atmosphere, scenic city course and beloved finisher’s T-shirt.  Organized by the Atlanta Track Club, the event attracts runners of all ages and paces eager to take part in the Fourth of July tradition.”  Gee, it doesn’t say anything about “uber-competitive assholes” or “whiny, entitled brats.”  I wonder why?

With obesity and related diseases at an all-time high in this country, many people are taking control of their lives and engaging in an exercise regimen.  Yes, it would be great if each and every one of us was capable of running a six-minute mile.  BUT – shock of the century – we aren’t all created equal (physically, at least), and for some people, walking a 10K is a life-changing accomplishment.  Why would you want to discourage someone from adopting an active lifestyle?  Just because you are going to have to veer slightly to the left to keep up YOUR pace?  The road is big enough for all of us, I’m fairly certain.

The truly elite runners are few and far between, and you don’t hear them railing about those damn recreational athletes and how they are ruining things.  If you want to feel exclusive and holier-than-thou, go run Boston.  The Peachtree is supposed to be fun.  RUNNING is supposed to be fun.

Hopefully, I’ll be out there having LOTS of fun on July 4 weekend.  How about all of you?

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Comments»

1. bearrunner - March 3, 2011

It’s all going crazy in regards to races.. I imagine marathons, and entering marathons this year, to be a real headache… The increase in runners, and everyone attempting to qualify for Boston this year, every one and their dog are going to be entering races… I don’t know how they (race directors) are going to rectify it but something will have to change.


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