Well, folks, it happened: after all that mess with last year’s registration, the Chicago Marathon has gone to the lottery system. Well, not entirely. You can obtain a guaranteed entry if you run with a registered charity, are a Chicago Marathon “Legacy,” participate with one of the marathon’s international tour partners, qualify to be part of the wheelchair athlete program, or have a qualifying time.
Weirdly, there are no categories based on age for the qualifying times. If you are a male, regardless of age, you can qualify to run Chicago with a 3:15 marathon. If you are female, it’s 3:45.
Like the Boston Marathon, Chicago requires that you qualify with your marathon time (as opposed to, say, the New York City Marathon, which accepts half marathon times, too). Unlike Boston, they don’t consider how awesome you might be as a 80-year-old female running a 3:48 marathon; it’s 3:45 or nothing, Grandma!
Chicago’s decision to guarantee entries for time qualifiers isn’t surprising, it’s just disappointing that its cut-offs are so arbitrary, not taking into consideration the ages of runners. Personally, I’m bummed because the qualifying time for Chicago is the exact same as what I would need to run to qualify for Boston. Hopefully the Chicago Marathon will still offer a large number of lottery spots, and hopefully Chicago will be easier to get into via lottery than New York.
The lottery entry period lasts from midday March 5 through midday on April 7, 2014. There is no lottery fee like the NYCM, but–like that marathon–if an applicant’s number is drawn, his or her credit card will automatically be charged. Hopefully this will prevent non-serious applicants from registering for the lottery, thereby wasting spots. By April 14, 2014, lottery applicants will apparently be notified whether or not they have been selected. Also like the NYCM, successful lottery winners can defer their registrations to 2015, but will still have to pay both the 2014 and 2015 registration fees. The 2014 Chicago Marathon registration fee is $185 for U.S. residents ($10 more than 2013).