Somewhat on a whim, kind of on purpose, I entered the New York City Marathon Lottery on Tuesday. Like every other marathon in the world, there’s no easy road to the starting line. Training for weeks and months to work yourself into shape to tackle a marathon is no small feat. For New York, however, they make it just a little bit tougher. If you’re going to build up the courage to take on the biggest marathon in the world, you had better have some fast legs, lots of generous friends, or your lucky rabbit’s foot.
There are five main ways to get into the New York Marathon, which would seem to put the odds in your favor. Looking more deeply, that isn’t exactly the case. First, you can qualify by running a 2:55 marathon or 1:23 half marathon – nope, that’s way faster than qualifying for Boston. Second, you can run nine NY Road Runner races plus volunteer for one more – nope, that’s 1,742 inconvenient miles to travel 10 times in a year. Third, find a charity and raise the minimum for that particular organization – nope, I’ve already used up my charity favors when I ran Disney. Fourth, apply and get denied from the lottery three years in a row – nope, though maybe this will work for me to run NY 2013. Which leads to… Fifth, enter the lottery, cross your fingers, and wait.
With an estimated 100,000 applicants vying for 20,000 lottery slots, the odds are not in my favor. To enter the lottery you pay $11 (which generates over a million dollars for the race for applications alone) any time between October and April 1st. During the first week of April the race organizers rather robotically announce if you have been selected via your online application status page. If selected, your trusty credit card is automatically charged the exorbitant $196 entry fee and you’re locked and loaded.
All that going against us, Colin, Barrett, and I are entered in the lottery and hoping to all get selected. With the rough estimates from above, that’s a 1 in 125 chance that we all get chosen. No plan has been set yet as to what we’ll do for the 124 in 125 chance that we don’t all get chosen. At any rate, there probably won’t be more news on this front until the lottery selection in April. Wish me luck!