4:30 or Bust: A Quest for Marathon Mediocrity

New York City Half Marathon #lotteryfail

with 4 comments

There was much uproar this week regarding the New York City Half Marathon.

In a nutshell, the lottery system was unfair to us New Yorkers, as we had about a 12% chance to make it through the lottery, where US and international folks had about a 72% chance to get in.  Really, that is no joke or typo.  This is inherently unfair, and NYRR has already taken steps to fix it.  I hope they do more.  Their official statements are here.

But really people, it is a lottery, you should expect not to make it.  Even if they allowed fewer non NY’ers, the odds were still stacked against you. 

I did enter the lottery, I did not get accepted, and it is fine with me.  I really did want to run, but I can think of other things to do with my money.  The big, and possibly only, problem I had with the process is that it just took “too damn” long.  In looking back at my records, I registered for the lottery on July 13.  That is JULY, over 5 months ago, and the race will not occur for 3 more months.  That length of time is insane!  And I didn’t even register on the first day.

I think NYC Triathlon has the lottery thing done right.  They opened the lottery on Nov 1, kept the lottery open for 3 days, and then immediately picked the winners.  No waiting for months, hanging in limbo, to see if you made it or not.  No dragged out registration period to inflate the number of people who want to sign up.  etc, etc, etc.

Anyway, it took about 5 minutes to get over my disappointment on Wednesday.  Thankfully, on that very day, a Twitter friend was posting about the Tough Mudder event he is planning to run, and asking for people to join him.  Now that sounds like a fine substitute to me!  Signed myself up today…


Written by SCL

December 17, 2010 at 11:20 am

4 Responses

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  1. I’d been so busy being mildly irritated about the unfair statistics of lottery acceptance (only mildly irritated, since I totally expected this and I did the race last year and don’t feel like I ever need to do it again) that I hadn’t given thought to the fact that the lottery was open for so long, and so far in advance. That is interesting and I *completely* agree with you!


    December 17, 2010 at 12:24 pm

  2. I don’t get what all the fuss is about. Yes, you run through Times Square, which is cool, but that is preceded by YET ANOTHER loop through Central Park, and they’re asking you to pay a gazzilion dollars for it. I understand why all of the locals who wanted to run are upset about the inherent unfairness of the lottery system, but come on. There are a lot of other events out there that get overlooked due to NYRR’s total domination of NYC running. So I think I’m trying to say that I totally agree with you, but it’s coming out reallllly looong.


    December 17, 2010 at 7:54 pm

  3. Definitely agree that the lottery ought to be shorter. The long period makes NO sense at all – it’s all done by computer, so it’s not like they’re taking months to write up slips of paper with people’s names and then actually draw them. Unless the NYRR is even more inefficient than we thought? 🙂


    December 20, 2010 at 4:30 pm

  4. That would be frustrating!


    December 26, 2010 at 12:21 pm

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