Organizers: Lottery System Saved Houston Races

  • By Duncan Larkin
  • Published Jan. 6, 2011

The switching problem has been addressed thanks to a new lottery.

Last year, the organizers of the Houston Half Marathon and Marathon were in a quandary. In the 2010 edition of the two races, the half marathon sold out in less than 24 hours. This prompted thousands of runners to sign up for the marathon.

In order to prevent this kind of switching, the marathon organizing committee implemented the lottery system.

“We saw a significant decrease in switching between races this year, down 43 percent from 2010,” said race spokeswoman Jennifer Smollen Carmouche. She noted that approximately 2,800 runners switched races last year, while only 1,5000 did this year. The figures do include runners that switched from the half marathon to the marathon, but the majority were runners who switched to the half marathon.

The race is set for January 20 and has a limit of 22,000 runners.

“The lottery system allowed ample time for both marathon and half-marathon participants to register and encouraged runners to register for the race they intended to run,” Carmouche said.

The switching problem goes back to 2005 when the half marathon witnessed a surge in popularity.

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Duncan Larkin

Duncan Larkin

Duncan Larkin is the news editor at and a freelance journalist who’s been covering the sport of running for over five years. He’s run 2:32 in the marathon and won the Himalayan 100-Mile Stage Race in 2007. His first running book, RUN SIMPLE, was released last July.

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