AJC Peachtree Road Race runners will have to earn starting spots in 2010

The Atlanta Track Club announced Thursday that the 55,000 entrants in the July 4 race will be lined up based on submitted finish times  in certified races. Previously, the starting positions for all but a handful of elite runners were determined randomly.

A submitted race time will not be required for an applicant, according to Atlanta Track Club spokeswoman Tracy Lott. However, Lott said runners who do not submit a time will be placed in one of the last starting grids.

Online registration for the 41st running of  the race will open at 1 p.m. Sunday, March 21.

Applicants for the race can register at ajc.com/peachtree. The traditional print application will run in the AJC on Sunday, March 28. This is the second year online registration will be available for the race.

As in 2009, the first 45,000 out of a total of 55,000 entries will be accepted through online registration, the track club said. Those unable to secure one of the first 45,000 entries, or who prefer mailing in their payment with a registration form, can fill out the paper application. The event’s remaining 10,000 slots will be selected at random from all paper applications received by mail and postmarked by April 5.

“Online registration allows event participants to instantly know that they will be a part of the AJC Peachtree Road Race,” said Tracey Russell, executive director of the ATC.

In addition to the performance-based start positions,  the number of start waves will nearly double in 2010, allowing for smaller groups and better distribution of participants. The track club is hoping these steps will help ease congestion at the start line and along the course.

Whether registering online or through the application in the AJC, entrants will have the option to submit their net finish time ("chip time") from the 2009 race or any other race -- 5K, 8K/5M, 10K, 15K, 10-mile or 13.1-mile distance -- run on a USA Track and Field -certified course on or after March 1, 2008. A full listing of start group standards can be found at atlantatrackclub.org/peachtree.

Also new for 2010, the AJC Peachtree Road Race’s companion event, the Peachtree Health and Fitness Expo, will move to downtown Atlanta to AmericasMart on Spring Street. The expo features fitness gear and apparel, nutrition and multi-sport events. The event is free and open to the public on Friday, July 2 from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. and Saturday, July 3 from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m.

Support real journalism. Support local journalism. Subscribe to The Atlanta Journal-Constitution today. See offers.

Your subscription to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution funds in-depth reporting and investigations that keep you informed. Thank you for supporting real journalism.