Houston Marathon Switches to Lottery Registration

Long-distance runners in Houston will have a new method to sign up for the annual Houston marathon.
For the first time the Houston marathon will use a lottery system to select runners. Laurie Johnson reports.

There are 11,000 spots available in the Chevron Houston Marathon, and another 11,000 in the half marathon.
Houston Marathon Committee Executive Director Wade Morehead says last year about 27,000 people attempted to get in the race.

“Over the last four years the registration process has gone from selling out in six months to selling out in four months to selling out in 12 weeks to last year selling out in two days. And that includes less than 24 hours for the half marathon and about 2 1/2 for the marathon.”

There was so much traffic on the registration website last year that?many people couldn’t even log on. By the time they did get a chance to register, it was too late. Within 60 hours all 22,000 spots were taken. Morehead says that’s why the marathon committee decided to switch to a lottery system.

“To make sure that it’s fair and that everyone has an equal opportunity. So by opening up the lottery or opening up the registration period for a three-week period, it affords everybody a better opportunity to sign up. It doesn’t matter if you sign up within the first five minutes or the last five minutes, everyone will have the same opportunity to participate.”

The lottery registration will open at 6am, July 27th and close at midnight, August 12th.? During that 17-day period, runners can go to to put their name in the pool. An automated system will randomly select registrants. Morehead acknowledges not everyone will be happy with the lottery.

“It’s change, so I’m sure that there’s some people that are going to be disappointed and there could be some local people who view it as a way that they can’t be in the race anymore, when in reality that actually occurred last year. There were several runners here that didn’t get to get in because they sold out so quickly. So we just want to make sure it’s fair for everyone.”

The Houston Marathon will take place on January 30th next year. So if you get selected in the August lottery, you’ll have plenty of time to train for those 26.2 miles.


Laurie Johnson

Laurie Johnson


Laurie is a native Houstonian who started her career at Houston Public Media in 2002. Laurie has covered a wide variety of topics for HPM, including the crash of the Space Shuttle Columbia, Hurricanes Katrina and Ike, and numerous elections. She is a frequent contributor to NPR and has been...

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