The Bank of America Chicago Marathon opened its registration lottery Wednesday at noon. The lottery will remain open for the next two and a half weeks until it closes on Monday, April 9 at noon.
After delaying the start of the lottery for a few weeks to make sure the system would run smoothly, lottery registration started without incident. This is the first official year that the race will use a lottery system to determine most of its running field. Last year, the race filled its final spots using a lottery after the initial registration process crashed. In mid-January, race officials announced that the 2014 Bank of America Chicago Marathon would utilize a lottery registration process. The race also switched registration partners to insure a smooth process. Officials have said that because of the enormous demand for entry into the fall marathon, the most fair way to fill in the running field would be through the lottery.
While most runners will have to wait to see if they were selected to run the marathon, not all of the October field will have to enter the lottery. The Bank of America Chicago Marathon has added in other options for guaranteed entry. The simplest and most common alternate form will be through charity running. Anyone who registers for the marathon through one of the partnering charities will be promised a spot in the field.
Elite or near-elite runners can also earn a spot if they can prove their time is within a designated range. Additionally, those who have consistently run the marathon will also have a spot for them if they would like it regardless of their time. Outside of legacies, elites and charity runners, the only runners with guaranteed spots will be those coming in from outside of the country.
When the marathon officially made the decision to stick with the lottery format in January, race director Carey Pinkowski said one-half to two-thirds of the marathon field would be selected from the lottery with the exact number determined following the number of guaranteed entries. Switching to a lottery benefitted the marathon in a number of ways. First, runners who may not be able or prepared to sign up for the marathon immediately have a little bit of time to decide whether or not to register. In 2011, the registration process lasted roughly a month; the following year that was cut to about one week. Then last year, had the rate continued, the marathon would have been full within the first day it was opened.
In addition to giving athletes more time to consider running, Pinkowski said that the lottery would also open the field to a wider variety of runners. The race director said the range of abilities in the race was one feature that makes Chicago so special.
When the lottery registration does eventually close, runners will need to wait another week to find out if they have been selected. Those who have been picked through the lottery will be notified on April 14. For more information on various entry forms, or to register, click here.