When I woke up late this morning, I found out through the powers of Facebook that the Chicago Marathon made a HUGE changes in their registration process for this year's marathon. It is such a new changes that it has caught everyone off from surprise. It also could potentially be a huge negative PR move for the marathon.
According to the Chicago Marathon website, here are the details for the registration process:
"Registration for the 2014 Bank of America Chicago Marathon will be conducted through a system of guaranteed entries and non-guaranteed lottery selected entries. The fee to register is USD $185 for U.S. residents or USD $210 for those residing outside of the U.S. The field will be capped at a maximum of 45,000 participants.
Interested participants will be able to 1) register with a guaranteed entry; or 2) enter the non-guaranteed entry lottery, at any time from Wednesday, March 5, at 12 p.m., to Monday, April 7, at 12 p.m. U.S. Central Time. Lottery entrants will be notified of their selection status on Monday, April 14."
The website continues to follow for the guaranteed entry requirements:
"Interested and/or qualified participants can take advantage of guaranteed entry opportunities into the 2014 Bank of America Chicago Marathon, as described below, at any time during the lottery entry period from March 5, at 12 p.m., to April 7, at 12 p.m. U.S. Central Time.
No other considerations for guaranteed entry beyond those outlined below will be made for the 2014 Bank of America Chicago Marathon. With the exception of a limited number of entries made available through the Charity Program and the International Tour Program, all guaranteed entry opportunities expire at the conclusion of the lottery entry period on Monday, April 7, at 12 p.m. U.S. Central Time.
Those who opt to run for an official Chicago Marathon charity can guarantee their spot in the 2014 Bank of America Chicago Marathon at any time during the lottery entry period (March 5 – April 7). Refer to the Run for Charity page for more details.
International Tour Program
Those who opt to join an official Chicago Marathon international tour partner can guarantee their spot in the 2014 Bank of America Chicago Marathon at any time during the lottery entry period (March 5 – April 7). Refer to the International Tour Program page for more details.
Chicago Marathon Legacy Finisher
Those who have finished the Chicago Marathon five or more times within the last 10 years (2004 – 2013) can guarantee their spot in the 2014 Bank of America Chicago Marathon at any time during the lottery entry period (March 5 – April 7). Refer to the Chicago Marathon Legacy Finisher page for more details.
Men who have run a verifiable sub 3:15:00 marathon and women who have run a verifiable sub 3:45:00 marathon on or after January 1, 2012 can guarantee their spot in the 2014 Bank of America Chicago Marathon at any time during the lottery entry period (March 5 – April 7). Refer to the Time Qualifier page for more details.
Athletes with disabilities wishing to compete in the wheelchair (push-rim) division should email firstname.lastname@example.org to inquire about 2014 Bank of America Chicago Marathon registration."
For those who do not qualify for the guaranteed entry requirements, there will be an option for a non-guaranteed entry through a lottery. Those who are interested in the lottery can register between March 5th and April 7th for the April 14th lottery drawing. For those who are selected in the lottery, but unable to participate have the option of deferring their entry for one year to the 2015 Chicago Marathon.
Personally, I believe that this is going to change the marathon is a huge way. It is going to hurt the local appeal for registering for the marathon. I know that a lot of people from the Chicago area register for this race to be able to run within their neighborhoods and get a hometown feel. I personally believe this may slowly cause the race to change into a combination of the Boston and NYC marathons combined. I would not want to have either run really fast or pray for a lottery entry just to run this race. Hell no! If that's the case, I may consider an out of town race like my hometown marathon again - the Twin Cities Marathon - or go for something bigger. I am not in the boat to run a marathon this year because of my previous injury last year, but it really makes me thinking for my 2015 plans.
I do not know the reason for the change since I have not received a press release yet from the Chicago Marathon PR group or the organizers. I really hope that this is the only year that they do this. I know that the race filled up two years in a row rather quickly. That's not a good enough reason to switch to this format.
I hope that the race organized take some good notes from the response from the locals on their decisions for this year's race and keep it in the back of their heads. There needs to be something better than this.