B.A.A. Boston Marathon To Implement Wave Start

For further information contact: Jack Fleming
(B.A.A. Director of Communications)
617-236-1652 ext. 2627 or 617-694-8218 (mobile). 

BOSTON - In a change designed to provide a better experience at the beginning of the race both for participants and residents, the Boston Athletic Association in cooperation with the Town of Hopkinton will
implement a wave start for this year's Boston Marathon.

In employing the change, all participants will be staged and begin on a single commercial street (Main Street, also known as Route 135) in two waves of approximately 10,000 athletes in each wave. No longer will runners wait to begin the race while lined-up on residential streets. Hundreds of volunteers will escort runners from an expanded Athletes' Village at Hopkinton High School to their starting corrals, preventing them from stopping on or in front of private (residential or commercial) or public property. Approximately half of the anticipated field of 20,000 official entrants will begin in the first wave, and the remaining half of the field
will begin one-half hour later in the second wave.

The starting time for the first wave of runners will be Noon, and the second wave will begin at 12:30 p.m. Remaining the same as in each of the last two years (since 2004), a few mobility-impaired participants will begin at 10:00 a.m., several dozen wheelchair division competitors will begin at 11:25 a.m., and approximately 50-70 of the race's fastest women will begin in a separate Elite Women's Start at 11:31 a.m. The exact starting line itself, adjacent to the Hopkinton Town Green, remains unchanged.

"This improvement will result in a vastly more efficient race," said Dave McGillivray, Boston Marathon Race Director. "This change is all positive and will benefit everything about the Boston Marathon, including our
transportation plan and our accommodation of runners in the hours leading up to the race. The effects of this plan will be extensive: we are sensitive to our impact within Hopkinton, and this operational innovation addresses the concerns of town residents and officials."

Another of the benefits of the wave start is that it will reduce the amount of time that it takes for runners to cross the starting line. Last year, with approximately 20,000 official entrants, the last official participant
crossed the starting line approximately 30 minutes after the starting gun was fired. Although the B.A.A.'s timing and scoring system records participants' net times, in the past it may have taken runners until several
miles down the course before they could begin to run freely and without obstruction due to the density of runners during the race's early stages.

"Whereas it took the last official runners 30 minutes to cross the starting line last year, this year it will take fewer than 10 minutes for each wave to cross," said McGillivray. "It is important to note that the anticipated
net difference in this method versus previous years' 'one gun, one start' is only about 10 minutes, meaning the last runner will be crossing the starting line this year at 12:40 p.m. as compared to 12:30 p.m. last year. We get the benefit of a wave start without any significant delay in anyone's starting time. Runners will continue to be seeded and started according to their qualifying time, which means that - in theory - no one from the second wave will ever catch anyone from the first wave. In practice, of course, due to a number of variables, some runners from the second wave will mix with the last runners of the first wave far down the course. However, by that time, the race will have thinned itself enough so that no issue will arise for
runners who are passing other runners, getting the fluid replacement that they need, or other race services."

Another change will be that runners will be scored and ranked by their net time, which means that - although they will be starting 30 minutes later than those in the first wave - runners from the second wave will be timed and scored from the time they cross the starting line until the time they cross the finish line. Prize money winners will continue to be awarded by gun time (not net time).

Because the second wave will begin at 12:30 p.m., the finish line timing and scoring operation will remain open until 6:30 p.m. Since 1997, the Boston Marathon finish line has stayed up and running until just after 6:00 p.m., recording all official participants who run within the six hour time limit.

Benefits of the B.A.A.'s plan to begin the 2006 Boston Marathon in a wave start, consisting of two sections of 10,000 participants each:

* An expanded Athletes' Village will be used to implement the plan, resulting in more space and greater comfort for athletes prior to the race; each wave will have its own designated section of the Athletes' Village;
* Athletes will be staged for a shorter time in downtown Hopkinton;
* Athletes will be staged on a smaller geographical footprint in Hopkinton, and they will occupy less real estate in Hopkinton, minimizing impact on town property;
* The last runners of each wave will cross the starting line 20 minutes sooner than recent past years;
* Once crossing the starting line, runners will be able to run free sooner;
* Runners can be transported to Hopkinton later, decreasing the time they will need to be accommodated while in Hopkinton waiting for the race to begin;
* On the course, between Hopkinton and Boston, the wave start will reduce the density of runners on the route, enabling systems such as fluid replacement and emergency facilities to stay ahead of the needs of the participants and spectators with the services they are providing;
* Runners - except for prize money winners - will be timed, scored and receive age division awards according to their net time;
* The finish line in Boston will remain open to time and score official participants until 6:30 p.m.

Start timeline for the 110th Boston Marathon on Monday, April 17, 2006
10:00 a.m. Mobility-impaired athletes
11:25 a.m. Wheelchair division competitors
11:31 a.m. Elite Women
Noon Elite Men and first wave of approximately 10,000 entrants
12:30 p.m. Second wave of approximately 10,000 entrants

This year's marathon will be held on Monday, April 17; it is the 110th edition of the world's oldest annual marathon. The Boston Marathon has started in Hopkinton, Massachusetts since 1924. From the race's inception in 1897 until 1923, the Boston Marathon began in neighboring Ashland, Mass.


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