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My question is probably silly, but nonetheless id like to get a logical answer; was always curious about this one. I think it doesnt only apply to Cyclocross but to other kinds of races, marathons for instance. So some of the big Cyclocross races i saw on youtube start out with tons and tons of participants and obviously only a handful can fit in the front row at the start.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PzrgdO6wcIY

So if I am at the very back, aren't I in a tremendous disadvantage to those who start out at the front? So who get's to be upfront? How does that work? It is what it is? or is there a method in place to even out this unbalance in fairness? - i cant see how.

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It's been my experience to show up at the start early... maybe 20 minutes or so. The downside is you are missing that time to "warm-up"
Indeed; so then I am right to assume that it is sort of on a first come first serve basis, right? If i come early and secure my spot at the front, I will have that advantage; but not without some compromise, as Geoff pointed out about warming up; or if I all of a sudden want to pee - I guess I'll have to hold it, or race to find a private bush and lose my front starter spot eh? :)
That is true, however its all dependant on your racing style. I tend to stay at the back on the starting line. I don't want to put everything I have at the begining to chase the "rabbit" (the person that sprints out in front only to die after one lap and end up last) I tend get a boost of energy from passing people and lose energy when passed by a lot. Sooo its all up to you. Its a mind game with yourself.
Most cross races are a part of a series. Typically the first two rows are organized by standing in the series. Often the grid is also lined up by order of reg. Sometimes it's just a scrum. A few races are now using Crossresults.com to line up the grid.

There's no totally fair way to do it, but that's life.

Yeah, you probably are at a disadvantage to be at the back. There are ways to not end up at the back. And if you just starting racing maybe you should be a bit farther back anyways. And I've watched guys win from the back. The cream rises to the top.
Yes, you can easily lose a race on the first lap simply because you have a bad start position that you can never make up, even if you are just as fast as the leaders.

To deal with this, races often use systems that award front-row positions either randomly or to those most likely to win. Races that are part of a series often award starting position to series leaders, so over time those most likely to win end up starting in front, with those who generally don't win end up out of the way in back.

This isn't always true though, so showing up early for your start is often a good idea.
I agree Patrick, it is certainly very satisfying to pass your friends or peers that you see every week. Plus it gives you more to bullshit about after the race.. enjoying some brews
Coolness. Thanks for all the input.
USGP races stage you based on when you register. Most regional races don't have enough people for it to matter that much, and I find that you're either good at starts, or you aren't. I was 96th in Louisville at the start, worked my way to 19th. I'm pretty sure if I'd have been front row, I'd have probably stayed with the front of the race.

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