ATLANTA -- Registration starts Tuesday for the Peachtree Road Race. This year, runners will register through a lottery system.
The change is in line with other mega-races around the country. It sets a foundation for the future as the world's largest 10K continues to draw more runners than available race numbers. After 11AliveNews received dozens of e-mails and Facebook messages, Julie Wolfe sat down with Atlanta Track Club Executive Director, Tracey Russell to get answers. Here's what you need to know.
1. WHY: In 2009, ATC moved to an online registration system. Despite reports from users that the system was sluggish and crashed, the race filled in 7.5 hours. In 2010, online registration went smoothly and filled the race in 4.5 hours. Race organizers predicted the spots could fill in much less than that this year. Russell questioned the fairness of the process, "What if you're a doctor in surgery for those two hours? You can't get in." The new lottery system relieves the time pressure of first-come-first-served.
2. ONLINE REGISTRATION: To register you must go to ajc.com/peachtree any time during the 10 day period from 5 a.m. Tuesday, March 15, 2011 to 11:59 p.m. Thursday, March 24, 2011. It DOES NOT MATTER when you register; all entries have an equal chance of winning a spot. Your credit card will not be charged until you are accepted. ATC will use a third party, MarathonGuide.com, to randomly generate the 60,000 winners. They will be notified via e-mail or you can search for your name at atlantatrackclub.org.
3. NO NEWSPAPER: In what some may consider an ironic move, the AJC Peachtree Road Race will not use the AJC for registration. In recent years, several thousand spots were saved for paper entries. No such entries will be accepted in 2011.
4. GROUPS: For the first time, you can register with a group. Groups will NOT be given preference over individuals, but it ensures either your entire group gets in or none of it does. You will still be assigned to corrals based on submitted times. DO NOT register as an individual AND a group. Double-entries will be eliminated from the lottery.
5. STREAKERS: Frequent runners (called "streakers" by the ATC) will be the ONLY group to gain special consideration. If you've run 10 or more Peachtree Road Races, and you do not get into the lottery, you will be given special consideration. YOU MUST ENTER THE LOTTERY. After you're denied, they will verify your past entries and get you a number.
6. ATC EXCEPTION: The only other guarantee you will get a number is as a member of the Atlanta Track Club. Individual memberships begin at $35 and include a slew of perks. Your membership MUST BE CURRENT BY 2/28/11. Russell said they saw a slight blip in memberships after the announcement but expect more as the race nears.
7. GETTING YOUR NUMBER: Congratulations! You're a winner. Your credit card will be charged $33 for the race, plus $7.50 if you want it mailed (otherwise you can pick it up at the expo, but you'll probably pay more than $7.50 in parking.)
8. NUMBER SWITCH-A-ROO: If other races are any indication, a lottery system will create more "might as well try" entries (i.e. people who have no intention to run or are unlikely to show up on race day). This ups the ante in the "black market" of PRR numbers (just check eBay and craigslist in the days leading up to the race). The ATC will (for the second year) have a transfer system. They want you to officially transfer the number so the actual runner is in their database.
9. UNLUCKY LOT: If you enter the lottery and do not get in two years in a row, you are guaranteed to get in your third year (no such guarantee existed under the old system).
10. THE NUMBERS GAME: So, the big question: what are your chances? In the last two years, the online registration closed when it was full. There's no way to measure how many people tried, and failed, to register online. But, the ATC can tell me that they turned away between 5,000 and 10,000 newspaper entries. By increasing the race size from 55,000 runners to 60,000; they hope to include most of those who apply.
Ten years ago, Atlanta runners would snatch the early edition of the Sunday AJC so they could have their race entries post-marked on Saturday. Two years ago, thousands set their alarms to wake up in time for online registration. Now, it's not the early risers, but the lucky, that have the advantage. Good luck.