Senior Design Class Helps Peachtree Road Race Stay on Course

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Barbara Christopher
Industrial and Systems Engineering
Contact Barbara Christopher
404.385.3102
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The 31st annual Peachtree Road Race on July 4th had another successful run in 2000, thanks in part to the ISyE senior design class.

The Peachtree Road Race is the largest 10K in the world, sponsored by the nonprofit Atlanta Track Club (ATC). This dedicated group organizes 55,000 official runners, who are often joined by thousands more not possessing the coveted Peachtree number. With three decades of experience, the ATC knows how to hold a race.

But in 1999, major construction in Piedmont Park forced the ATC to make some changes at the finish line, resulting in a bottleneck of unhappy runners. The change also disrupted the flow of runners and spectators attempting to use the Midtown MARTA station. The construction was scheduled to continue through the 2000 race.

The Senior Design team went to work, analyzing each and every aspect of the race, from the tables that hold the runners' bottled water to the size and release times of the nine start groups. They viewed videos of race participants, created a space matrix for each runner with "The String Experiment" (determining that each runner needs 7 square feet of space when crossing the finish line), and contacted race officials for the Boston and Honolulu marathons for advice. Eliminating expensive and impractical alternatives, they were able to make specific recommendations to the ATC.

The result: "It flowed like a stream," race director Julia Emmons told the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. Ten percent fewer runners sought medical assistance because the adjusted finish line allowed them to sufficiently slow their bodies without a sudden stop.

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Engineering, Research
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Status
  • Created By: Barbara Christopher
  • Workflow Status: Published
  • Created On: Feb 28, 2001 - 8:00pm
  • Last Updated: Oct 7, 2016 - 11:06pm