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Staggered start will help improve times


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Vehicle traffic wasn’t an issue last year, but there was congestion elsewhere on the course — the start line.

At the front of the pack were the elite runners — the ones from Kenya and Ethiopia who could finish the half-marathon in just more than an hour.

Then, just a few rows back, were walkers and first-timers.

It took the full length of the Mill Race Park to thin the crowd, organizer Laura Chasse said.

But things will be different this year with the introduction of a wave start.

All participants are being asked to report their estimated finish time as part of the registration process, and they’ll be assigned to a starting corral based on that guess.

When the first starting gun goes off on race day, the first wave of runners in corral A will take off and participants in corrals B through F will be walked forward. Each corral will be released with a starting gun at the finish line every 30 seconds.

“Fast runners and slow walkers will not be mixed together at the start,” race director Joel Sauer said. “A good clean start is vital for both the enjoyment and the safety of all participants.”

The entire process will add less than three minutes to the start of the race, but it could help cut finish times by more than that.

“It will prevent participants from having to weave all over the road and dodge slower participants,” Sauer said. “The short 30-second span between waves makes a big difference in preventing overcrowding on early parts of the race course, especially at turns and curves in the early miles.”

That’s not the only benefit, Sauer said.

All participants will experience the thrill of being close to the starting line when their race starts — no more standing 150 yards back and not having any idea of when your race begins.

“Your corral will come to the line once the wave in front of you starts, you will get a greeting, a countdown and your own wave start,” he said.

How the wave works

Register for the Mill Race Marathon online at millracemarathon.com. The form will ask for your estimated finish time. Be honest.

Based on that time, you will be assigned a starting corral, which will be designated by letters A through F for the full and half-marathon, and by letters J through L for the SIHO 5K. These letters will be clearly marked on your race bib.

On race morning, there will be signs in the starting area directing participants on where to enter their corral. Want to run with someone who is assigned to a different corral? You can move back a corral but not forward.

When the starting gun goes off, the first wave of runners in corral A will take off. The participants in corrals B through F will be walked forward — still staying within their corrals — with corral B participants now toeing the start line. About 30 seconds after the corral A folks clear the start area, the second wave will be released.

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