It’s only the first day of spring, but already marathoners are fretting over their fall racing schedules. The Marine Corps Marathon held its lottery yesterday, and the New York City Marathon lottery takes place next week, on March 26th. The Chicago Marathon lottery just opened up yesterday, and will remain open until April 7th.
Lotteries aren’t new to runners, but they are popping up everywhere these days. The Peachtree 10K in Atlanta, GA, the Cherry Blossom 10 Miler in Washington, D.C., and the Mt. Washington Road Race in NH are a few more examples. Running is growing in popularity, and demand is outpacing supply. Race directors can’t accommodate all of us. Limits are imposed to protect the safety of the runners, and to preserve the sanity of the residents who live in the host cities and towns.
Most of these large races have guaranteed entries for runners that meet rigorous qualification standards. The Boston Marathon is the most competitive of the large marathon races, requiring a qualifying time for all race entrants (unless running for a charitable organization). Hence, the infamous BQ. Even that doesn’t guarantee you an entry if the race fills up with faster runners first.
For first-time marathoners, and the 90% of us that haven’t qualified for guaranteed entry, we place our aspirations, our hopes and our dreams in lottery process. Yesterday, as the lottery played out for the Marine Corps Marathon, Twitter and Facebook flooded with joyful acceptance posts and despondent runners waiting to hear news that may never arrive. On lottery day, the drama and emotion of the marathon begins.
Here are some of my favorites from Twitter yesterday: