As of Sunday November 17th, 2,761 is the number of applicants for the Western States lottery, up from 2,295 last year. A very rough guess and I imagine that I will have about a 30% chance, first timers around 5%-6%.
This is why they are changing the qualifying standards
The summary. 50 mile runs no longer qualify. Only the biggest 100 mile runs – 30 of them. (I guess it is biggest amount of starters.) Some 100km races are qualifiers – not sure what the criteria is – but one of my favorite races (Weymouth Woods) is out.
It has taken me a while to consider what to write – so I guess that would mean that the changes neither jump out at me as being good, nor do they jump out at me as being horrendously bad. I don’t think it will harm my chances of qualifying – I am already in one qualifying race (Umstead). It does put pressure on me to finish though!
This year, I went to great lengths to get a qualifier – worked with a coach, crossed the country – but mission accomplished, I got my qualifier. So, should Umstead not work out for whatever reason, I am pretty sure I would go to great lengths again, and if I had to travel across the country again, then I would do so.
There was some inevitable hand wringing on Facebook and IRunFar. Mainly because of the lack of races local to Auburn, or lack of races on the East Coast. Looks pretty evenly distributed between East and West to me. Perhaps a legitimate gripe if you live in the heartland though.
The other concern I saw expressed was the worry that all qualifying races would fill up too quickly or would need a lottery. Perhaps this is also a legitimate concern – would the amount of WS applicants in other races, ruin it for locals who just want to run their hometown race? Good questions, and time will tell, and maybe some of these races would keep some spots for locals (an example is the way Western States allows each aid station to select a volunteer to enter the race the following year)
There are other changes the board could have adopted – tighter qualifying standards (for example, Sub 24 hour 100). Obviously I am glad they didn’t implement that one! I am pretty sure human nature dictates that most people want standards to apply to them, and as few a number of people as possible.
They could also have made it so that if you win the lottery, you can’t apply the following year, reduce the lottery pool– I like that idea (see above what I said about human nature!)
I also think the lottery could be structured in such a way that it favors more heavily the people who have been the most patient. (Again, see above about human nature), about 1/2 the race will be filled with “first lottery entrants”
The WSER board opted to make these changes to reduce the number of people entering the lottery. As someone who has a better chance of becoming a 5 time loser than getting into the race on December 7th, I have to applaud the efforts of the board for at least coming up with something. I guess we will find out this time next year when we see how many people throw their hat into the ring to see if it has worked.
Good luck on Dec 7th to all who read this.