Yesterday, entry opened for the Massanutten Mountain Trails 100 (MMT) mile race. I ran it this year as my first 100 and really hoped to run again in 2008 to try and improve on my performance. This past weekend the Western States 100 (the most popular 100 miler in the US) lottery was held and had a record number of entrants. How quick would MMT fill this year? Last year it filled in two weeks but only offered a print and mail application. This year entry was online only.
Enter a big wrinkle - I had to travel for work on Tuesday and would have no computer access when entry opened. I knew a buddy of mine would be fully engaged when entry opened so I asked him to enter for me. Good thing too as the race filled in about 45 minutes! Fortunately the race maintains a waiting list so many folks will likely get in through this avenue. I am amazed at how quickly ultra running is growing and how quickly races are filling up. I think it is a phase that will abate in a couple of years but who knows.
A lot of people were upset by the entry procedures and many didn't get in for a variety of reasons. Many want a fairer entry process. I submit that the current procedure (first come, first served) is the fairest. Although I was out-of-pocket all day, I improvised to ensure that I got in the race. I just don't agre with the notion that certain people had an advantage for getting in the race. Afterall, I was on a plane at 33,000 feet when the race filled.
There has been a lot of discussion lately about special consideration for top runners at races. I agree that a certain amount of spots should be reserved for top runners so that the competition level is maximized. Remember all the excitement this summer surrounding Jurek vs. Meltzer at Hardrock? How great would it be to see a battle between Meltzer, Krupicka and Skaggs (to name a few) on a tough course? It is not aboout catering to elite runners but 100% about maximizing the top competition at races. Perhaps even creating prize money for the top finishers. Some may argue that this will make the races more "high maintenance" and require corporate sponsorship, etc. Well folks, if the sport continues to grow the way it has the last several years then these will become realities eventually. Mind you I am a mid pack (at best) runner so I don't have a dog in the top competition/prize money fight.