There's other reasons, too. The big, spectacular races, here and abroad, are getting so popular that, if you ever want to compete in them, you can't afford to not register, if only for the additional ticket next year.
Which brings up the fact that the lottery application period ended for Western States yesterday, and today, they posted the applicants and their tickets. All I have to say is, holy hell, I may never get into this race!
Total Entrants: 2302
Total Tickets: 3577
Western States allows 400 entrants per year (369 with an average of 10% DNS (did not start) per year). The big problem: they allow nearly 100 automatic entries into the race.
The top 10 men and women get automatic bids into the race, which seems fine. Montrail Ultra Cup winners get 36 slots throughout the year, which really adds to the overall competitiveness of the race. Running clubs and sponsors get a few tickets, as do members of the Board of Trustees. Gordy gets a ticket, as well as 9-time finishers going for their 10th finish. Also, they let in a few foreign applicants basically at their will. Then there's the twice-yearly raffle drawing, which, from what I can tell, takes away another 16 spots from the lottery. All of that brings the automatic entries up to nearly 100, which means that us "normals" are fighting for only 300 spots. You can see how that's a problem with well over 3000 tickets (probably closer to 3300 tickets) outstanding after the automatic entrants get in (currently 53 entrants).
I haven't seen the stats on entrants that haven't run a hundo before, but there's talk of toughening the qualifications in coming years to at least include finishing a hundred to enter, which seems legit. With nearly 10% of the entrants going to Montrail Cup winners, it seems rather silly for those coveted spots going to people who have never set a foot past 50 miles before. But, saying that, some of those same virgin hundred-milers have gone and finished very well (Zach Bitter placed 15th last year in a fantastic time 16:53 in his first hundo).
So, for us "normals" that aren't going to win a Montrail Cup race, we're looking at odds around 9% per ticket for 2013. I've got 2 tickets, so a little less than a 1 in 5 shot at going. The better news: I've got a lot of friends in the lottery as well, most with 2 or more tickets themselves. (Last I checked, there were 33 Minnesotans, but that probably went up a bit.) Odds are that one of us should make it, which would be really exciting.
Donut Day 25k! Don't forget to register, if you haven't already.
The other big lottery is Hardrock on December 16th, and oh-boy, I can't wait for that. Last year, Jordan Hanlon was the closest Minnesotan to in at, I believe, #38 on the waitlist. Hopefully, after December 1, Hardrock will post similar entrant stats as Western. Last year, the odds of getting in to either were similar, with Western slightly easier.
Depending on what happens with Western and Hardrock, there's UTMB registration opening December 19 through January 8 and a lottery on January 20, if necessary, and Leadville opening January 1 (first come-first serve).
Thankfully, my local loves, Zumbro, spring and fall Superior, Voyageur, and Wild Duluth don't require lotteries at this point, but the Wisconsin races, such as Ice Age and Kettle, tend to fill up pretty quick.
Someday I'd like to run Black Hills again. I've got a bone to pick with that course, but running it means that I'm not at Western States in any capacity, running or pacing. And trips to Western or Hardrock might necessitate runs at the Grand Slam or the Rocky Mountain Slam, if only because both of those races are so hard to get into, which brings up the fact that Vermont opens December 1, Bighorn opens January 5, Wasatch opens December 1 with a lottery in February, and the Bear opens, well, sometime, I'm just not really sure when.
I really have no idea what next year will bring, but one thing I've learned is that life is short and we're here to make the best of it. My good friend Charles Bukowski said it best,
"We are here to drink beer. We are here to kill war. We are here to laugh at the odds and live our lives so well that Death will tremble to take us."The rest of that one is here, for those interested few.
Like in life, I expect nothing, but hope for everything. I'm just here to make sure that 2013, like the rest of my years, is a wild ride.