Update 29 Oct 2013: The Marine Corps Marathon 2014 registration will be by lottery! The lottery will start accepting entries on 19 February 2014 and end on March 15th 2014. This will be a much fairer system than they have been using for the past few years. So my suggestions below for getting in under the old system will thankfully not be necessary. There are other ways to get in besides the lottery… an automatic entry is available to anyone completing the Marine Corps 17.75K run, there will still be charity spots available, and if you’ve run at least 5 previous Marine Corps Marathons you are guaranteed another race if you sign up for the MCM Running Club.
I’ve been planning on running the Marine Corps Marathon 2013 since March 2012. I’ve run hundreds of miles to train and finished two half marathons, but the toughest day of the last year was 27 March 2013, the Marine Corps Marathon Registration day. I clicked the Register button at 0900 and immediately got a server error page. I probably clicked the register button along with thousands of others at almost exactly the same time. Fifteen or twenty minutes later I got to the registration page… sort of. However, there were only 3 fields, no labels for the fields and no visible buttons. The Active.com registration page was obviously going to have major problems! I kept trying, this was a bucket list thing for me. I managed to get logged in after a few tries and eventually got to a registration page. However, ultimately even though I started the process at the moment registration opened I did not get a spot for the 2013 Marine Corps Marathon during the Active.com open registration period. What a mess!
This website obviously has design issues, they aren’t able to handle popular events that sell out quickly. Although I think it is possible to design a website that can handle this kind of surge traffic with ease (think Ticketmaster) or at least handle it much better than they did, I’m not sure a first come, first served approach is the best way to select who gets to run. If there are going to be 15,000 people who all try to click the Register button at the same time in order to get 7,000 spots, then this is definitely not a fair way to distribute the spots. A lottery is a much more fair way to do this. Have the individuals or teams submit applications in advance of a cut-off day. Hold a random selection process and notify those who are selected, and let the others know they have not been selected. I’ve done other events that have lottery selection (Mount Whitney), not been selected, and at least felt the process worked as intended. This did not feel fair, did not feel professional, and I’m sure there are a lot of ticked off people! With a random drawing there will be disapointed people, but that is better than ticked off people.
Although I did not “get in” via the Active.com Marine Corps Marathon registration, I didn’t give up. This is a bucket list thing for me, and I’m not getting any younger! I knew there was a possibility to get registered via authorized charity organization. Although I could not find a prominent link on the Marine Corps Marathon page I did a search and found a page that had the answer to my problem. They have a MCM Charity Partners page. The Marine Corps Marathon has set aside registrations for these organizations that are available to anyone but require a minimum donation pledge. I went with the charity Finish for Kids, they are doing good things, have a well working website, and have a reasonable donation minimum.
Although I’m almost certain the Marine Corps Marathon will make significant changes to the registration process following this debacle, here are a couple things that might help if they don’t. Be sure to be logged in to Active.com before the event opens for registration. Logging in later could cost you time, and that could cost you a bib! Don’t close your browser window, just keep refreshing, this could preserve you a place in line. Although the site was so tragically messed up this year I’m not sure that would help. If the site says “try back in a few minutes” don’t wait a few minutes, hit refresh. Beyond that the only hope we have is that they change the process.
Since I got in this year via a Charity team, I’m hoping that I will achieve my goal to finish, as well as my time goal. If not I’ll be back at this again next year.
My Posts preparing for the Marine Corps Marathon 2013:
Marine Corps Marathon (2013 – Very Early Planning)
Marine Corps Marathon 2013 – Training Plan and Registering
26.2 Miles of Music
Americas Finest City Half Marathon (Aug 19 2012)/
Marine Corps Marathon 2013 (Updated training plan)
San Diego Half Marathon (March 10 2013)/
Evolving M Marine Corps Marathon Training Plan/
Marine Corps Marathon Training Plan (Over 50, Over Trained, and “A Little” Over Weight)
Marine Corps Marathon 2013 – The Final Training Push
And my training log and results for the 2013 Marine Corps Marathon:
<http://herestoafulllife.wordpress.com/2013/10/29/marine-corps-marathon-2013-training-log-and-results/”>MCM Training Log and Results