Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Marine Corps Marathon sold out: Entering is a sport

A few days ago, an email from the Marine Corps Marathon landed in my inbox and I knew that today there would be a stampede to sign up for this race. I did a quick check of Twitter and yup, it was pretty much like Chicago: was getting slammed as runners were rushing to sign up.

Two hours and 27 minutes later, the raced had filled up.
Chicago, as we remember, had to suspend its registration on the first day because it got hit by so  many registrations -- then moved to a lottery system. I was able to register for Chicago on that first day and in the case of MCM, I'm taking my sweet old time. Since I've run more than five MCMs, I'm part of the race's Runner's Club, getting a sweet lifetime guaranteed entry.

Other commentators may look at this filling race and come to the conclusion that road races are flush with participants, but I take the view that only certain races built up and overhyped over the years are now the bucket list of all marathons.

I know it wasn't in the too recent past when runners would qualify for Boston then wait for the winter to actually register to run. And back when I was running my first marathon in 2006, it was months and months after the window had open that they filled up. That race was Chicago, the same one that would have probably sold out in one day if the sites didn't crash.

I knew it would come to this, however. When I was waiting for the Boston 2011 entries in the fall of 2010, I booked off work that morning -- just had a feeling that something would happen. That day, it was a harrowing few tries before I got in. Boston organizers added to the frenzy when it emailed past runners that registration was filing up fast. Then, within a day, the race had filled, and a lot of runners felt cheated.

So yes, it's a race to enter the race.

Sky high popularity for our sport? Kinda, but we've got plenty of room. Consider this. For every major marathon (Chicago, New York, Boston) there are hundreds of other options. In North America, there are 384 marathons spanning the calendar year. The weekend that MCM is running, there are at least four other marathons on that same weekend.

It's easy for me to say that, given I've signed up for a marathon major (Chicago) while mulling my seventh MCM. But I also know there are other marathons on my list: many in Canada including Victoria, Montreal, Vancouver. And in the States there are plenty of medium sized ones. The few i've done south of the border other than MCM (which I've considered a home course) were pretty awesome, like the Flying Pig Marathon in Cincinnati. I support all the local races in Toronto -- and the three marathons here never fill up for months.

But for those looking to make their first -- and sometimes only -- marathon, the big leagues are where they go. Great, and maybe they'll get bitten by the bug and try one of the other ones.

My 2012 MCM.


Robin said...

I benefitted from the problems in Chicago and got in through the lottery. It is definitely becoming a sport this registration process though, especially in the USA.

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