The NYRR held their Annual Gridiron 4 Miler at 9:00AM on Superbowl Sunday. Nearly 4,500 souls braved 14 degree temperatures and a blustery wind chill factor. Since little can be done about the horses or tourists the NYRR held their first experiment with waved starts to alleviate some of the aforementioned congestion.
The organization and execution of race directors, course marshals and volunteers was top notch. However the experiment didn’t work. Runners were corralled into groups of about 750. The first group consisted of elites and runners who have won an age group award. After that it was first come, first serve.
I was corralled into the fourth wave and had probably the best race start of my running career. Unfortunately I hit the slower runners from wave three within the first half mile. The rest of the race was an exercise in frustration as I had to cut, zig and weave around those who started ahead of me. I would find a comfortable pace but then have to slam on the breaks until a path around a gaggle of slower runners opened up. Even with the finish line in site I was still passing walkers and eleven minute milers.
My advice to the powers that be over at the NYRR Club would be to continue with the wave starts but assign all runners to a corral that corresponds to their average pace per mile. This average could be determined by their three most recent NYRR races. Runners without three races in their history should be assigned to the last corral. Out of town elites or other special cases without a NYRR race history can be handled on a case by case basis.
"The reasonable man adapts himself to the world; the unreasonable one persists in trying to adapt the world to himself. Therefore all progress depends on the unreasonable man."
-George Bernard Shaw