Running: In defense of race lotteries

Posted: January 27, 2014

Last week, the Chicago Marathon announced that it would be switching to a lottery system for registration. When I registered for the 2012 race, I locked myself to my computer and started trying to sign up the minute registration opened. It took a few tries, but I got in. Last year, though, enough people did the same thing that the marathon's registration system crashed.

A lottery system would make choosing who gets in more fair. Sound familiar?

In 2013, the Chicago Marathon had 39,122 finishers. In 2013, the Broad Street Run had 38,043 finishers. We don't have the 2013 rankings yet, but RunningUSA put Chicago as the fourth largest race in the United States. Broad Street was the seventh largest.

The Broad Street Run, which will be held Sunday, May 4, was ahead of the curve with its lottery system. The Philadelphia Parks and Recreation Department, which puts on the race, switched to lottery registration last year. It was the right call and a smart move to deal with the crush of people who want to run the race every year.

Why is Broad Street so popular? Two reasons.

The first is the distance. For those who have run a 5K and want to try something harder, a 10-miler is the next step, especially when we don't have a lot of 10K races in the area. A 10-miler isn't as daunting a target as a half- or full marathon, either. For those thinking about a half, 10 miles is long enough to gauge whether they're up to the challenge or not.

The second is this race itself. The Broad Street Run goes right through the heart of the city. If you pay attention to any news outlet on the first Sunday in May, you know it's happening. Most likely, you know one or two or five people running it. The date means that you can train in cooler spring weather, but not through the heart of winter. If you're picking a spring race target, it's a big one.

In 2012, the race's 40,000 slots filled in five hours. As race director Jim Marino told me last year, that wasn't fair to people who couldn't be at their computers right when registration opened - people like teachers and police officers and firefighters. That went against the spirit of the race, which he said has never tried to be the fastest race in the country. That is why there are no qualifying times.

A lottery also addressed people who might have signed up on a lark and then not shown up on race day. They'd be less likely to sign up, leaving a spot open for someone who really wanted to run. The lottery means I'll pass. I've run Broad Street twice. Someone else wants that spot more than I do.

It's a good lottery, too. Your credit card isn't charged unless you get in. (With the New York Marathon, you pay a fee even if you don't get a spot.) If you get in but can't run that day, you can transfer your bib to someone or defer your entry to the following year. (Check broadstreetrun.com for details because there are deadlines and fees for each action.)

Plus, if you don't get in, there are plenty of alternatives in the area: Ocean Drive 10 Miler on March 30; New Jersey Half Marathon on April 13; Long Branch Half Marathon and St. Luke's Half Marathon on April 27; Wild Half on May 18. There's even the Bucks County 10-miler on May 4, the same day as Broad Street.

The lottery opens Feb. 1 and closes Feb. 13 at broadstreetrun.com. Good luck.


Running:

Racing Schedule

Sunday

BCRR Winter Series, Winter Series Terrible Tyler 9.3 Miler (15K). The Boathouse, Tyler State Park, Newtown, 9:30 a.m. Contact Janet Lewis ( janet.lewis@alumni.duke.edu) or bcrrclub.com $10 per race.

Browning Ross Winter Series. 5K every Sunday, through Feb. 23. Rowan University parking lot on Bowe Blvd. Race:

1 p.m. Race day registration only ($5). Age group awards. Contact Ringo Adamson, 856-904-3543

or tuffgangrunning@yahoo.com

Feb. 1

19154 5K, fun run, 1-mile walk. Fun Run at 9 a.m., 5K, mile walk at 9:15. Fee: $25 (before 1/24; $30 after. Fun Run: $6. Start, finish at St. Anselm Church, 12670 Dunks Ferry Rd. Packet pick-up Jan. 31, 5-8 p.m. in gym. Race day: 8-8:45. Register at active.com

or stanselmparish.com/race. For more information, 215-637-3525.

Feb. 2

BCRR Winter Series Pick Your Way

5.3 Miler. The Boathouse, Tyler State Park, Newtown, 9:30 a.m. Contact Janet Lewis ( janet.lewis@alumni.duke.edu) or bcrrclub.com $10 per race.

Plexus Fitness, 5K, 11:30 a.m. registration, 12:30 race start. Plexus Fitness, 1007 Orange St., Wilmington. Fee: $20 by 1/29; then $25. Register at Delaware Running Co., cash only, by noon, Jan. 29. In Greenville Crossing. Mail Entry: Plexus Super Bowl 5K, c/o races2run, P.O. Box 24, Montchanin, De. 19710

Browning Ross Winter Series. 5K every Sunday, through Feb. 23. Rowan University parking lot on Bowe Blvd. Race:

1 p.m. Race day registration only ($5). Age group awards. Contact Ringo Adamson, 856-904-3543

or tuffgangrunning@yahoo.com

Feb. 8

Chilly Willy Frostbite 5K, Camp Okanickon, 1303 Stokes Rd. , Medford,

9 a.m. $12 preregister, $20 post. JTiming.com

Feel the Love 5K, start and finish at Navy Yard, South 17th Street, 3:30 p.m. Early registration by 1/15: $25. Before 2/6: $30. Race-day: 2-3:15 p.m. Total limited to 700 entrants. brynmawrrunningco.com or e-mail brynmawrracing@gmail.com

Cupid's Cranium 5K run/1-mile walk, 10 a.m. Pope John Paul II High School, 181 Rittenhouse Rd., Royersford. $20 preregistered. $25 race-day. Long-sleeve shirts guaranteed only pre-registered. Proceeds benefit pediatric brain tumor research, www.runtheday.com

First Fireside Frostbite Runners Seminar, 8 a.m.-11:45 at the Ambler Theater, Ambler. Information,, registration

at www.aarclub.com/Frostbite/

seminar.html. Fee is $10.

Feb. 9

BCRR Winter Series, Eenie-Meanie-Minie-Moe Half Marathon. The Boathouse, Tyler State Park, Newtown, 9:30 a.m. Contact Janet Lewis ( janet.lewis@alumni.duke.edu) or bcrrclub.com $10 per race.

Browning Ross Winter Series. 5K every Sunday, through Feb. 23. Rowan University parking lot on Bowe Blvd. Race:

1 p.m. Race day registration only ($5). Age group awards. Contact Ringo Adamson, 856-904-3543

or tuffgangrunning@yahoo.com

Feb. 16

BCRR Winter Series, Staggered Start 4.6 Miler. The Boathouse, Tyler State Park, Newtown, 9:30 a.m. Contact Janet Lewis ( janet.lewis@alumni.duke.edu) or bcrrclub.com $10 per race.

Browning Ross Winter Series. 5K every Sunday, through Feb. 23. Rowan University parking lot on Bowe Blvd. Race:

1 p.m. Race-day registration only ($5). Age group awards. Contact Ringo Adamson, 856-904-3543

or tuffgangrunning@yahoo.com

Mike's Seafood Polar Bear 5K Run/1.5-mile walk for autism, noon, Sea Isle City, JFK&Boardwalk Promenade. Postrace party at LaCosta. polarbearrunwalkforautism.com

Feb. 22

Fireside Frostbite 5-Miler, 9 a.m. Wissahickon High School in Ambler. Register at www.aarclub.com. Limited to first 1,500 runners. Fee: Before Wednesday, $30 adult, $27 student; after Wednesday, $35 adult and $32 student. Feb. 21-22, $40 for all.

Feb. 23

Browning Ross Winter Series, Glassboro 10-milerand 5K (last of series). Fee: $20 pre-registration (before 02/17/2013). $25 race day. 5k: $5 (no t-shirt). Race-day registration: noon. Race starts at 1, 5k at 1:05. www.tuffgangrunning.com

Starts at Rowan University parking lot on Bowe Blvd. Overall and age-group winner awards. T-shirts to the first 50 10-miler entrants. Postrace buffet and raffle at Robison Hall, Rowan University. Info: Ringo Adamson 856-904-3543 or tufffgangrunning@yahoo.com

March 1

St. Patrick's Parade 5K & Family Fun Walk. Downtown Mount Holly, registration opens 9 a.m. Race: 11, parade

1 p.m. Fee: $35 before Feb 17. Long-sleeve race shirt and a free post-race beverage at Ott's Tavern. www.MtHolly5K.com

March 9

Icebreaker 5K and 8K Fun Runs at CrossFit Nassau, CrossFit Nassau, 255 Nassau St., Princeton. Races at 9 a.m. Day-of check in: 8 a.m. Proceeds benefit Hurricane Sandy New Jersey Relief Fund and Princeton First Aid and Rescue Squad. www.princetonac.org

March 22

Phillies Charities 5K, SOLD OUT.

April 5

"Fourth Spring Run" 6K cross-country run at the Institute Woods. Princeton Friends School, 470 Quaker Rd., Princeton. Check-in at 8:45 a.m. 6K starts at 10. Limited to 150 participants. Walkers are welcome. Anyone expecting to take longer than 50 minutes should arrive by 9:30 a.m. for possible separate early start. Online preregistration only, until March 22: $30 including T-shirt, after $35. Discount for no-shirt option. www.princetonac.org. Questions: iaswoods@princetonac.org

May 17

3d Annual Rock N' Run 4 Kids. 5K:

9 a.m. Fun Run 8:30. Coca-Cola Park, 1050 Iron Pigs Way, Allentown. Live performance by Craig Thatcher & Nyke van Wyk. Fee (by May 1): 5K $25, then $30. Fun Run: $15 then $20. Register at active.com or rocknrun4kids.com. Call 610-821-7706. Pre-race packet pick-up, Friday, May 16, from noon-6 p.m. at the Salvation Army Children's Services office. Race day: 7:30 a.m. at Coca-Cola Park, cash or checks only.


E-mail date, name of race, site, time and fee, plus registration information, to sports editor John Quinn at jquinn@phillynews.com. Put Running calendar in re: field.

|
|
|
|
|