Here is it early June and already I am getting e-mail alerts for next year's Houston Marathon.
Last year it was totally off the hook. Registration opened up at midnight Friday July 17th and within 24 hours, the half marathon had completely filled up (11,000 participants) and by Sunday the full marathon had hit the limit as well. I took a chance and jumped on at 0400 and got registered but this year, I was expecting to stay up until midnight to make sure I got a spot on the course.
Of course, the PTB (powers-that-be) came up with a new scheme. Just got an e-mail alert that they are doing a lottery this year. Registration opens up at 0600 on July 27th and remains open for 17 days to allow everyone time to enter. You will be notified on August 12th if you get a slot. Not sure I like this new system. Basically it means I have to sign up and wait to see if my name gets picked. Can they make this more difficult? I heard much grumbling last year about the pace that registration went and know of a few people who did not get in. IMHO, this may serve to sour more people on the run. My hair stylist (yes, I use a stylist - at Sportsclips), Nhiti, is a consummate runner and has run many marathons and even did the Boston Marathon last year. She is a wiry, 45 year old Vietnamese woman that looks like she could outrun a greyhound (I swear she has a negative body mass index). She passed on last year's Marathon because she has done it so many times (6-8, I think) and was tired of the course (and the chaos). Not that I am anywhere near her pace class, but I was really looking forward to seeing her at the finish line. Although, I'll admit it is a wee bit humbling to finish a half marathon in the time that others finish a full marathon.
There is a potential inside track to secure a spot if you sign up for the "Run for a Reason - Become a Hero" where you commit to raise $350 for one of the specified charities. Each charity will have a set number of guarantee spots, if you agree to raise money for the cause. I donated money last year to my cause (Cancer Society, Houston SPCA), but they screwed up my registration so no hat/special bib. Of course that $350 is on top of the normal registration fees ($95 for the half, $115 for the full). I dimly recall it costing $45 a few years back. Who said running was a cheap form of exercise?