Author Topic: Thoughts on Multiple Wave Starts  (Read 7413 times)

John Vomastic

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Thoughts on Multiple Wave Starts
« on: February 02, 2015, 11:46:20 PM »
Two years ago on the PPA/M Discussion Board, I wrote that multiple wave starts would be preferable to only two waves for the PPA and one wave for the PPM.  You would not need the two waves for registration and runners would not be penalized for signing up for the wrong wave.   Starting positions/Bib numbers would be assigned by qual times.

Crowding and wait lines at the first aid station and the Ws would be reduced and the chances of slower runners getting in with a faster crowd and clogging up the single file on the Ws would also be reduced.  The accuracy and reliability of timing mats and chips makes multiple waves possible, but you should still have a designated/default start time for each runner should the mat not see the chip.

The first aid station needs to be well organized.  1800 runners in 30 minutes is 60 runners/minute or one each second.  Actually it might be a 40 minute span because the faster runners will cover the first 1.65 miles about 10 minutes faster.  Perhaps tables with cups on one side and LOTS of volunteers with pitchers on the other side because most runners carry a wide-mouth water bottle and disregard the cups. 

The interval between waves should be as short as possible to ease crowding.  I think a one-minute interval would be doable.  You would need a good PA system and signs to designate each wave.  1800 runners in 31 intervals results in 58 runners/wave.  A runner with a 10-min/mile pace (6 mph) will cover 528 feet in one minute.  That is a good distance between waves.
 
On the Ws (15% average slope) where crowding is critical, a runner with a pace of 3 mph will cover 264 ft in each minute.  With 58 runners in each 1-minute wave that would provide a spacing of 4.8 ft between runners.  For a pace of 2.4 mph (typical pace for a 15% grade) and PPA finish time of 5:30 to 6:00 the distance between runners would drop to 3.8 ft.  Still a bit crowded but nothing like we have experienced with only two waves.

John Garner

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Re: Thoughts on Multiple Wave Starts
« Reply #1 on: February 03, 2015, 12:13:35 PM »
I'm thinking along the same lines: Assigned starting times by bib range (units of 100 would make this easier, knowing that there will be a good 10-15% as no-starts).  The only restriction being that I'd like all 1800 runners to be across the line by 7:30.

As for the first aid station, anything we do would help compared to having 1000 folks try and hit it all at once like in years past.

The start line coordination will be the critical factor. On paper, 20 waves, one per minute, sounds good. But organizing that is another matter.

John Vomastic

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Re: Thoughts on Multiple Wave Starts
« Reply #2 on: February 03, 2015, 02:33:37 PM »
I would try to keep things as simple and straight forward as possible.  If you had a bib # from 0-99 your start time would be 07:00 (or 0:00 on the elapsed time clock).  If your bib # was from 100-199 your start time would be 07:01 (or 1:00 on the elapsed time clock).  If your bib # was from 1500-1599 your start time would be 07:15 (or 15:00 on the elapsed time clock).  That would allow 31 waves with the last wave starting at 07:30 (bib # 3000 to 3099).  I think most runners would understand the principle involved and the start would be self-regulating with minimal supervision needed from race officials

You might want to consider loading the first wave with as many runners as possible.  Last year (2014) the fastest time was 2:10 and 75 men and 12 women had times under 2:55.  These runners will provide their own separation and crowding at the first aid station and on the Ws would not be an issue.  Perhaps a few more women could be added to the first wave to help ensure the top 3 female finishers were all from the first wave.

John Garner

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Re: Thoughts on Multiple Wave Starts
« Reply #3 on: February 03, 2015, 04:45:59 PM »
I was thinking exactly that. But the timing crew may balk at setting up 21 waves in the timing software (we typically have 2100 registered runners to account for no-shows and such). :-)

I would also consider making the first wave bib #1 -> 199 and then start with 200->299 at 7:02 (to make it easy to remember). 1->99 is a set of award winners and comp entries, but it is also rather sparse with only about half of the slots actually assigned (give or take a bit). 100 -> 199 are the fastest of the general populations (last year it was the international teams, which we won't have this year). Either way, the spread from this group is larger than any other (2:10 -> 3:00+) so there should be very little crowding in the first few miles or at the finish line for that matter.

What I do not want is a case where the first 10 or so to cross are not the respective male/female top 10. So I'm going to have to look at the results from the past few years to see what I need to do in terms of wave assignment to make sure that I have a very good chance of maintaining the integrity of the top 10.

John Vomastic

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Re: Thoughts on Multiple Wave Starts
« Reply #4 on: February 05, 2015, 11:58:42 AM »
I think it may be difficult or impossible to ensure that the top 10 finishers all start in the first wave.  The top three, yes.  There have been well known runners who were pre-race favorites who did not do very well and there have been others who trained hard and made substantial improvements in their previous times.  I think runners will understand, if you caution them to run their best possible race, because there may be another runner in a later wave who could have a better chip time.

Lilmc

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Re: Thoughts on Multiple Wave Starts
« Reply #5 on: February 05, 2015, 05:25:47 PM »
This will be my first attempt at the Ascent and my husband did it last year. He definitely talks about the bottleneck that occurred at the entrance to the Barr Trail, so I think a multiple wave start sounds like a great idea. My only concern now is the logistics of doing this with two of my friends that we would all have been Wave 2 in the former system, but likely to have different qualifying times. How could we stick together then? Drop back to a slower wave like in other races?

bcoffelt

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Re: Thoughts on Multiple Wave Starts
« Reply #6 on: February 06, 2015, 04:50:02 PM »
You always have the option to fall back a wave. I have always been in Ascent wave 1 but have started with my first time running pupils who were only wave 2 qualified. You forfeit 30 minutes of clock time. I'm not sure how race management would handle the chip time issue if you don.t cross the start mat with your particular wave. Even at that, simply cross the start mat and wait for your friends wave to start. You will have a great time and that is what is important. See you in August!

KSFlatlander

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Re: Thoughts on Multiple Wave Starts
« Reply #7 on: February 08, 2015, 10:55:08 AM »
For those of you that need an idea as to how bad the congestion is, go to YouTube and search for a video titled  "Pikes Peak Ascent 2011 Wave 2 Congestion"  Multiple waves, beyond 2 sounds like a great idea. Bolder Boulder has numerous waves that start one minute apart and it goes off without a hitch.  Might be worth checking out as this race is also chip timed. 

JasonL

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Re: Thoughts on Multiple Wave Starts
« Reply #8 on: February 20, 2015, 06:46:46 PM »
Using bibs numbers is a good idea.
It would be bad to run a race with a missing start time because the chip didn't read.
The point on the top ten finishers not being able to start at the same time might away some of the competition too.

Multiple waves makes it harder to organize as well, but I like the idea of many waves starting with short intervals.