I think that this depends on your personality and how fast you are going.
I ran Chicago in 1998. I lined up at the 8 mpm sign and after the gun went off, it took two minutes (of easy walking) to get to the start line. I was in stride 200 m into the race and had no problems (20,000 starters). The crowds were LOUD!!! Yes, it was crowded, but the crowd just zipped along.
I ran Indiannapolis in 2000 (415 finishers) and, being a midpacker, I had people to chase (and to chase me!) the whole way. No crowds, but I really don't need them. But, the 2:50 and faster runners really looked as if they were "on their own" with several minutes between them.
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