'May the odds be ever in your favor'- Hunger Games
News came down this week that the Spring and Fall Superior Trail Races in Northern, MN will be switching to a lottery system. There was much uproar about the move but as detailed in the press release it was a move that had to be made as the demand rose so fast.
I feel fortunate to have gotten into the Spring 50K that filled up in mere hours this year. Luckily I was stuck at my desk when it opened and was able to snag a spot.
When I first read that they were going to move to a lottery system I, like many others, wasn't all that happy with the move. Like many people, I plan months ahead for these races. Whether it's the training schedule, travel or just life in general the planning starts well in advance. Last year the Fall 100 miler was on my mind and in the works from March all the way until a few days after when my brother Paul flew back home.
I understand, maybe better than anyone, that there are certain years when you can make a big event like that work and others where you can't. So to have your fate held in a lottery can be distressing.
But the longer I thought about it the more I realized I am okay with the move and understand the reasoning behind it.
It was something that had to be done as the demand to get into these races grew, and there is good reason for the demand. John Storkamp and his crew at Rock Steady Running do a wonderful job putting these events on. They are first-class races in every way. The courses are well-marked and challenging, the aid stations are well stocked and full of great people and the events always run smooth and have plenty of unique swag for the runners.
Not everyone will get into the race they want to this year or in the years to come, unfortunately that's part of the lottery process, not everyone is a winner. I've felt that sting twice now with Western States. This year I really felt like it was going to happen, Ali & I sat with our breakfast and coffee watching a stream of the lottery waiting to hear my name. Three Minnesotans were pulled but not me. It was disappointing there's no doubt about it. But at the same time it was a lot of fun sitting there watching the lottery, making it an event, getting excited for the MN people.
The lottery made it feel bigger, and I think that can happen with this, almost turn it into the Midwestern States. Superior Lottery watch parties, qualifying races, if your running buddy doesn't get in, and you do maybe that opens up a volunteer opportunity, or pacing or crewing.
And if nothing else this might be an opportunity to explore other trails and new races.
This is all part of the evolution of trail running, as it gets more popular more and more races are moving to lottery systems and just like when your plans change in the middle of a race, we must adjust and make the best of it.