If you haven’t been following along …
Chicago Marathon registration opened up last week, and there were terrible technical issues. People would start the registration process and get error messages. So they would try again. Their credit cards would get double or triple charged. This lasted for a few hours, until finally, the marathon folks had to take down registration (via Active.com). They said they would be in touch later with how they will proceed for registration for the remaining spots. Today they announced that they will use a lottery for the remaining 15,000 spots.
Does that suck? Yeah. No question.
I feel bad for anyone who had their hopes set on running the marathon this year and has to enter the lottery. I know how you feel. I remember last year, deciding months in advance of registration opening that I would run the marathon, and waiting for registration day to come, and then logging into the site at the exact moment registration opened, and signing up. So to have to deal with the headache of all the problems when registration did open this year, and then not get in, and now find out you have to go through a lottery … yeah, I’d be pretty annoyed too, to put it nicely.
But, I think this could be a good thing for the Chicago running community. In the long run.
Clearly, there is a demand for marathons in the Chicago area. And we’ve always had the Chicago Marathon, and it’s 45,000 spots to meet that demand. As a result, there aren’t that many other local marathons in the fall. If you live in the Chicago area, and wanted to run a fall marathon without leaving town (and paying for a hotel room), Chicago was the easy choice. Without a lottery or qualifying times to deal with, you didn’t have to worry about getting in.
But now, it is pretty obvious that the Chicago Marathon is no longer meeting the demand for a fall marathon in the area. There are more runners than ever who want to run a fall marathon in Chicago. That’s good! It means there are more runners! Granted, a lot of out-of-towners run Chicago, but a lot of locals run it too.
It sucks right now, but when there is a greater demand, but not a big enough supply to meet that demand … well, I didn’t major in business, but I think that means good things for the consumers. (That would be us, the runners.)
You know some group is going to step in and create another fall marathon in the area. It’s a pretty obvious business opportunity. We already have one new fall marathon for 2013, the Naperville Marathon. Yes, they have gotten off to a shaky start with the local running community, but their race sold out in a day. Even if it was only a few thousand spots, that still says something. Even the new local fall marathon can’t keep up with demand.
Of course there is also the Fox Valley Marathon, and while I have heard good things about it, it is a bit early in the fall season for me. I personally don’t want to gamble on getting marathon-perfect weather in mid-to-late September.
Maybe there won’t be another new local marathon popping up for 2013 (a bit late to start planning), but I would not be surprised if 2014 saw at least one new local fall marathon. (And I hope it’s in late October or early November.) (And I hope the price is a true alternative to the Chicago Marathon, hint hint, I’m not made of money, race directors …)
More races (as long as they are done well) can only be a good thing. More races = more options = happier runners.
So, sorry 2013 is kind of a crap shoot for runners who wanted to do Chicago. But hopefully next year will provide more options. And luckily for 2013, there are so many other fall marathons in the Midwest that have not sold out.