After my entry last week, I got a number of comments. Some were helpful, others less so. I feel like clarifying and adding to my ideas from my last entry would be helpful. Also after some thought I realized what Boston’s real problem is which I’ll address at the end of this entry.
1. It was helpfully noted that the BAA operates with a “net runner” formula that predicts how many people will drop out and will get the field to a manageable size for the course. This sounds fine but a formula, no matter how accurate, is still little better than an educated guess. Given the sky-rocketing popularity of the event, leaving the exact number of entrants to a formula seems unfair. The BAA should pick a number that it thinks the course can handle. Then, if for any reason, the number of registered runners drops below that number, a waiting list should be in place to replace the missing runners. Even if this only allows a 100 more people to run, I think it would be worth it.
2. Apologies if this point looked like I was picking on women. I wasn’t. But just to cover my tracks, here’s a slightly different approach. Raise the qualifying standards for men AND women under 50 by 5 minutes. This would lessen the pool of qualified runners and hopefully lessen demand for a few years until runners get even better. I would leave older runner’s standards alone because you shouldn’t be left out of the chance to run a prestigious marathon just because you have aged.
3. I realize that this point might have hit home with a lot of people but some of the responses were unbelievable. I say verbatim in the entry that “charity is great”, and still I got attacked by people who evidently scored low on reading comprehension in grade school. I apologize for botching the exact number of charity runners; I do not apologize for questioning the system. Charity should be a large, visible part of any significant race. However refining the system might be helpful given the current popularity of the race. One idea I heard was to have charity runners meet a qualifying standard. This doesn’t seem unreasonable given that everyone else does. Running a race for charity is a great, noble, altruistic thing. But if you can’t qualify, run another race.
I hope the above clears some things up. However they all skip over the main problem: the flawed and overwhelmed registration system. Last year it took over two months to fill up. Given this window, it could reasonably be said to anyone who didn’t get in, well you should of been paying more attention. This year that window was less than NINE HOURS. Many people were at their computers feverisly pressing submit, to no avail. Some thought they could do it after work around 6PM. It closed at 5:03, sorry. Allowing people only a nine hour window is simply not fair.
I’m willing to give BAA a free pass this year. No one could predict how fast it would fill up. I bet most thought they would have at least a few days. However now that it is known how popular the race is, changes must be made to the registration system. I’m not sure exactly what the answer is here. Perhaps a lottery, or windows for different sets of runners to be able to apply. At the very least, the website needs to be updated so it can handle the expected traffic so that people don’t have to take three hours to merely register.