Hitting the Lotto, New York Style

Today is the day thousands of runners — 80,080, to be exact — have been awaiting on tenterhooks for several months. Beginning this morning, a lucky 14,326 of them will be selected in the lottery for acceptance into the 45th running of the TCS New York City Marathon, which will be run November 1.
NYRR-logoThat number is up by 56 percent from last year’s lottery acceptances, which numbered 9,170. Last year’s figure was somewhat lower than usual due to the higher-than-normal number of entrants who were guaranteed spots after the 2012 race was cancelled in the wake of Superstorm Sandy.
The lottery used to be the primary way of gaining entry to the marathon, and in the pre-Internet days it was actually something of a rite of spring for runners to queue up to mail their entry forms on the first allowable date. In the intervening time, however, the number of lottery runners in the field, which is once again expected to total close to 50,000, has shrunk to less than a third, as other avenues of acceptance have gained popularity.
Among them is the 9+1 system of the sponsoring New York Road Runners, which guarantees a slot to those who run nine and volunteer at one NYRR races during the preceding year. Other spots go to charities (up to 8,200 runners), and the largest group, international tours, who gobble up 16,000 places on the starting line, a reason you can hear at least half a dozen languages spoken around you if you run the race. Guaranteed entries, given to those speedy runners who meet stiff qualifying times, or those who have run at least 15 previous editions of the race, make up another smal segment, as do the last of those redeeming their vouchers from the 2012 cancellation.
With only 18 percent of that 80,080 pool set to receive the lucky email by day’s end, it means there will be a lot of disappointed runners out there. Those who were not selected via the drawing tomorrow can still receive entry by fundraising with one of the official charity partners of the TCS New York City Marathon. The official charity partner program will launch tomorrow, Tuesday, March 3.

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