I am working with a large and growing marathon that has the normal seeded starting pens. The size of each pen must of course be factored on how many people you will put in it.
Does any one know of the optimum and maximum density that works for marathon start pens? More exactly, now many square feet of space do you need in the pen for each runner?
What do you think is the max and what do you think is a comfortable amount of space before the runners feel too crowded?
I suspect that this also varies by the concept of personal space, and that not only varies by nation but also between rural and city living. People in New York who are often in crowds and subways feel more comfortable standing close than people from Montana.
So do any of you have guide lines, rules of thumb or anecdotes that shine a little light on how much room you need for each pen?
What formula or space do you use for each 100 or 1000 runners?
not sure about the exact square footage per pen that is optimal. I like to overestimate the amount of space given for these pens because of people wanting to stretch or get in and out to use the bathroom one last time or to return to the bag check area to put their headphones away, etc... What I find that is more important than the space given for the pens is the shape of the pens and the timing of the start. Pens having an L-shape are more efficient than simply one long stretch. Also, staggering the pens' start even if only by 30 seconds goes a long way towards mitigating the bottle-necks that can occur if everyone starts at once.
Input from Boston Marathon Director
Subject: RE: start pen question
Bottom line, I use 3 square feet. So for a corral of 1,000 runners, I need
3,000 square feet or so. I think many other races have "copied" this
formula and it seems to work for them, too. Hope this helps.
I had one of my start line volunteers do some research a couple of years ago and we use 2 1/2 to 3 feet per person so pretty similar to Boston. Incidentally, I think some of the information came from the Segway company.
Thanks a lot. I was reviewing some start pen plans and realized that was one critical bit of data I did not have.
I must admit that I have not run Boston. It sounds reasonably dense. Did others find the Boston pens to be crowded or did they feel comfortable?