you’ve been living under a rock you haven’t been following marathon news, NYRR recntly announced new guidelines for guaranteed entry into the marathon. Basically they’ve a) eliminated the lose-the-lotto-three-times-and-you’re-in rule b) tightened the time requirements to the 75% age grade for those speedy folks looking to qualify c) restricted deferrals to one year only d) stopped unlimited entries to the race if you have completed 15 previous NYCMs.
NYRR says if they do not make these changes now, they will not able to offer lotto spots starting in 2015 – craziness! But these new rules have left alot of folks unhappy. The out-of-staters are upset because they no longer have an automatic in after three lotto attempts, and the speedsters are upset because they believe the 75% age grade times are too restrictive. Which then of course leads to the age-old debate: do faster marathoners deserve a slot over a slower or more casual runners?
Well obviously I’m a bit biased as a slower runner myself (my age graded times are usually in the 50% range), but I do believe we are all equal when we toe the starting line. Speed and hard work are not mutually exclusively. One runner might BQ on a standard 40-50 mile week plan on their first marathon attempt while another might barely crack 5 hours on their 10th marathon after running 70 miles/week. And what about those who are facing huge hurdles? Some of the slowest marathoners are battling obesity, serious arthritis, even cancer – did they work any less than the rest of us?
And then there are those who run New York not for a fast time, but for the experience. New York does not have an ideal course for a fast time to begin with – the crowds, the turns and the late hills can all add some significant minutes to your time. And since travel costs are so high for the average tourist, I think alot of them consider it a “once in a lifetime” type marathon. So rather than race through it, some might choose to take the race a little slower so they can take in all the sights and sounds the city has to offer. While it’s not my exactly my plan (if I put in the training hours I want to get every last drop of speed out of my legs, I’m also lucky enough to consider New York my hometown race. But I think alot of us, especially those NYYRers who race in the city year round, tend to lose sight of the sheer awesomeness of the city.
Besides, if it wasn’t for Fred Lebow, there might not be a New York Marathon for us to all clamor over spots for. And Fred was considered one of the slower runners of his day!
And while I do sympathsize with those trying to get in via lotto, I think these rules will eventually make the lotto easier to get into. Right now it seems like many runners throw their names into the lotto with no intentions of actually running the race this year and, hopefully the new rules will help to eliminate that.
What are your thoughts on the new rules? Do you think NYRR is favoring one type of a runner over another?