There are races incorporated into these events but only the first several hundred, if that, are even able to race. After that, it becomes just a mass of humanity moving through the streets of a big city.
That is sort of the point here. People (whether participants or marketers) like to repeat the mantra that road racing is so “cool” (or unique or whatever) because anyone who pays an entry fee gets to line up with the best in the world. In going to a wave start, ING NYCM is really just tacitly admitting that everyone in the two later waves are not really in the race with those in the first wave. (Granted, many of us may have already realized the fallacy in that notion well before this.) Field size and time limits anymore are growing to a point that have nothing to do with sport and are about little more than maximizing income. Those at either end of the time spectrum (the very fast and the very slow) will continue to be well-served by this scenario, yet a lot of people in the middle end up squeezed out. It is tough to maintain and grow a sport that way, with a huge void in the middle of the spectrum.