The organizers of the NYC Marathon have changed some of the guidelines for entry into the race. Most people get in by lottery, running for charity, or qualifying with an incredibly fast age-graded marathon or half marathon finish time (the times are significantly faster than those to qualify for the Boston Marathon). While it’s never been easy to get in through the lottery, now it will be even more difficult.
The biggest change is doing away with the “three strikes” entry plan–which means if you don’t get in after three tries, you’re guaranteed entry the following year. This is a change that will affect many runner’s dreams of running the largest marathon in the world. And with almost 45,000 finishers last year, it seems everyone wants to run NYC. With the new changes, it will be even harder to realize their dream.
But guess what? Since this year’s attempt was my second strike, I’m barely squeaking in. If I don’t get in by lottery next year, I’m guaranteed an entry for 2013. I feel very fortunate to know that I definitely have a spot waiting for me. New York, I won’t let you down!
Two years ago our running friend Danny ran the NYC Marathon and came back a changed man. He loved it so much, and talked about it so much, that everyone caught the bug and decided to sign up for the next year. Some were lucky enough to get in through the lottery (I didn’t) and the rest ran for charity (including Danny, again). I was already running Boston in April, and on a teacher’s salary couldn’t justify another expensive marathon. I was so jealous and sad to miss all the fun.
So I entered the lottery again this year and still didn’t get in–which I was actually glad about since I had just quit my job. My heart stopped, though, when I saw the announcement about the changes this morning, until I read that they’re phasing it in over the next two years, and I’ll be grandfathered in.
So why do I want to even run NYC? I hate crowds, I prefer smaller marathons in smaller cities, and NYC is expensive. Big crowds of people make me nervous, and after 9/11 I have this fear that terrorists will find a way to blow up a bridge during the race, or terrorist runners will strap bombs to themselves or something during the marathon.
Here’s why I really want to run the NYC Marathon: because it was my first recognition as a child that people can accomplish things that seem insurmountable. I remember watching scenes from the NYC marathon on the TV when I was a kid in the 70’s, and being amazed at the number of people crossing over a bridge. I couldn’t imagine doing something like that. I didn’t want to do something like that, and couldn’t understand why someone else would. But I still knew it was something big, something life-changing, and it intrigued me. It inspired me.
Now I’ll get the chance to run in the shadows of those first marathoners I watched on TV when I was just a kid. I feel so honored.
And, come on, it is New York. I mean, who wouldn’t want to run there?