Chicago Marathon Going to Lottery

We’ve all heard by now that the Chicago Marathon is changing up registration. You can read all about it on the web site, but in short, there are a few options for guaranteed entry – legacy, time qualification, charity – or you can enter the lottery and hope for a spot.

I don’t think anyone who has been paying attention is surprised. Last year’s registration was a mess. Marathons are getting more and more popular. Other marathons that have already gone to a qualification system (New York, Boston) are getting harder and harder to get into. Sure, it’s sad that my local marathon is no longer a guaranteed option for anyone who wants to run it. But let’s have some perspective.

(I realize I’m preaching to the choir.)

“It’s not fair”
Had they stuck with the free-for-all option again, and let’s say the web site didn’t crash, you’d still have to be sitting at your computer right at 12 noon (or whatever time it opens) to be able to register before it sells out. How is that fair to people with jobs that don’t allow them the freedom to sit on a computer, taking care of personal business? Or people with a slow internet connection? Or, given the fact that the web site probably would crash if they went free-for-all again, it still wouldn’t be fair.

“Can’t you just get a better registration system?”
Um, apparently not? Or perhaps if they could, the price would go up even more. And then people would complain about that. Do you think programming just grows on trees? Are you a programmer? Yes? Then I have a business opportunity for you … however, I have no up-front cash. But, I do work on web sites (content, not programming, but I work with our programmer) and I can tell you that web sites crash. It happens. The only way to make them not crash? Throw more money at it. So perhaps they could have done first-come registration and the price would have been $250. Is that more fair or less fair than a lottery?

“I was planning to run with a friend and now we can’t!”
There is still a chance that you can both get in through the lottery, or you both can run for charities. OR, newsflash, there are other marathons out there! If running with your friend is the most important factor, take a trip over to Shocker – Chicago isn’t the only marathon out there! It’s not even the only fall marathon in the Chicago area.

“This is stupid/sucks/insert other negative comment here!”
Maybe get a better grasp on the English language, and develop your critical thinking abilities. I wish the internet had a “if your comment isn’t adding anything constructive, it’s not allowed” filter.

“I’m taking my money elsewhere!!!”
Good for you. I’m sure this will significantly hurt their bottom line. Oh wait, did you miss the part that demand is outweighing supply??? Maybe encouraging runners to seek out other marathons was part of the plan??

“No age grading for the time qualification isn’t fair.”
Actually, I do see the validity in this complaint, but then again, they never had age grading for the corrals (nor should they). Perhaps this is something they will adjust for 2015.

Looks like I'll be running with the ACS again!
Looks like I’ll be running with the ACS again!

What do you think? Is this so unfair of them??? Or inevitable, and the best solution to increasing demand? Are you planning to run the Chicago Marathon this year, and if so, what are your plans for getting in? Looks like the hubs and I will be charity runners this year.

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18 Comments on “Chicago Marathon Going to Lottery”

  1. Oh man, I love the “wah wah wah I can’t run with my frieeeeeennnnddd” complaint. Are we in kindergarten? Bitches, please.

    I think the only legit complaint is the lack of age grading for the time qualification. Poor granny. 🙂 Like you said, they will probably fix that in the future.

  2. I think this was just an inevitable thing to do. Last year’s registration was such a clusterf**k. I think it’s good. If I ran it, I would run for the charity I always run for. Suck it up Buttercup! I probably won’t run it unless I did what I did last year. There are so many great marathons out there that if you have a problem with this, find another! Great post!

  3. Where did you get some of these complaints from? Their FB page? I love people’s empty complaints sometimes. “THIs sucks!” Thanks for your insight, internet user! I’m debating whether or not to register. I think I’m going to sign up for the lottery. If I make it in, great, it was meant to be. If not, maybe next year! Or, I’ll sign up with a charity. TBD!

  4. I’m planning on running it if I can make a decent recovery. I don’t qualify with my 2013 Chicago Marathon finishing time, but luckily I do with my 2012 time. It definitely puts the pressure on to run one fast marathon per year from here on out if I want a guarantee that I can run a major whenever I want. I know FWP. 🙂

  5. I think that for popular races, a lottery system is really a huge improvement for the reasons you mentioned — it just isn’t fair to people who don’t have desk jobs at 12pm, or have other commitments.

  6. Ha ha ha. I was waiting for your write-up on this. When I saw it today I knew of a few bloggers who would have something to say. 😉

    I agree with your reaction. And my personal reaction is that I don’t care if this race is lottery. I was lucky enough to run it once, when it wasn’t. And that was enough for me. See: “Chicago isn’t the only marathon out there” 😉

    Which charity will you run for? ACS again?

  7. I’m in! Running for Ronald McDonald House Charities again! However, I planned on running for them anyhow cuz I like free {beer} stretching/massage/HELP ME work they do afterward on “whatever hurts”. 🙂

  8. Supply and demand. Chicago is a business and they want to make money.

    The Chicago Marathon and Carey P can do whatever they want with this race. It’s a popular and part of the marathon series. I’m glad that Legacy Runners were protected. My biggest beef is the Time Qualifier. If you are going to have a time qualifier then don’t add gender to the mix. I worked just as hard as a 3:45 marathon runner (regardless of gender). If you want the fastest runners then pick a time between 3:15 and 3:45 and let the fastest runners compete for those slots. Stop this gender competition. Let your talent do the talking regardless of your gender.

    Charity programs are hurting. Or should I say the pressure to fundraise is a lot higher and the number of charity runners is decreasing…via a report by Running USA. Have a set number of charity spots based on a specific criteria. Those slots can be guaranteed but determine a number and criteria that makes sense.

    I have nothing but love for the Chicago Marathon. I’ve run the race 4 years straight and every year I obtained my goals. I love the city and the fans that support us as we Grind. When I crossed the finished line last year I knew it was my last Chicago Marathon. Today pretty much secured that feeling.

    You are right I have options. But, 1) not everyone has the financial and/or time resources to head out of state for a race. 2) Chicago Runners should have been protected. Chicago Runners should have been given some kind of option that allowed them a fair shot to gain entry. 3) After all we are the ones Carey is recruiting for volunteer spots. We are the ones CARA is recruiting for training and events. We are the ones who run the lake front, city streets and support the local business (big and small) 365 days of the year.


    1. Interesting thoughts on the time qualifier. I assume they have separate times for men and women because if they had the same time standard, it would be unbalanced and significantly more men would get in based on time than women. I’m not an expert when it comes to athletic performance, and I haven’t read up much on the “fairness” of different qualifications for men vs. women. However, then men’s world record is what? 15 minutes faster than women? So I assume all things being fair, any time qualification would be “easier” for a man than a woman. I guess you could argue both sides for the fairness of that.

  9. I love you, Maggie. And, I agree with you. But, people will complain NO MATTER WHAT. It is always something!

    Want to run with a friend and you both don’t get in? Head on over to Fox Valley or Milwaukee or one of the other zillion races in the area! Pick your battles. I don’t see any other way. (Maybe next year they will do something for CARA runners like Abe suggested. That is a good program in NYC.)

    1. You’re right, people will always find something to complain about. That’s why it’s so great that there are so many other races out there!! You can find the one that’s best for you.

    1. On the one hand it’s disappointing, but on the other hand, it’s a sign that running is still increasing in popularity, and isn’t that a good thing overall?

  10. Just found your blog, and I love it! I’m from NYC and I think they’ve struck a nice balance here with guaranteed entry based on time for the very serious runners in addition to a 9+1 program for locals. If you’re an active participant in races throughout the year and volunteer at a race at least once, you get guaranteed entry. Guaranteeing locals active in the running community a spot in their hometown marathon seems like a nice way to “give back” to those of us who do support NYRR’s efforts year-round; perhaps they can do something like that in Chicago. There’s something special about a hometown race, and it’s frustrating when you feel run out of your own city by “foreigners!”

  11. I’ve ran this race before and was planning on running it again this year. Hopefully I’ll get in through the lottery system as I have no desire to raise money for a charity. Don’t get me wrong, I am a big supporter of them but now find it difficult to raise money. No complaining here. 😉

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