Wednesday, January 16, 2013

The New York Marathon saga...

The window for choosing between a refund of the $350 entry fee or a (non-complimentary) guaranteed slot for 2013 has opened and I must make my choice before the 25th of January or, by default, I will forfeit both options. There is some more information on the official web site which in a way which seems to be quite unique to the NYRRs manages to be both precise and ambiguous at the same time:

At this time, we are reserving the right to revise the options for guaranteed entry eligibility for the 2013 Marathon, or to offer alternative options, for the following runners:
    • Applicants who would have qualified for the 2013 Marathon entry by being denied entry three consecutive times
    • Applicants who would have qualified for the 2013 Marathon by meeting our time qualifying standards. Therefore, 2012 entrants who believe they will meet those standards, and wish to run in 2013, should consider selecting the option of guaranteed entry into the 2013 Marathon.
I actually fall into both those groups as (a) I entered the lottery 3 times and was denied each time and (b) I have a qualifying time for 2012 and believe that I will meet the qualifying time this year (which, unless it is revised, is the same for me as it was last year because the standards have tightened at the same time that I have gone from being a thirty-something to a forty-something).

What I find utterly confusing is the last paragraph. Why is it ambiguous? Because, in the context of the decision I have to take regarding the resolution of the 2012 Marathon, the "option of guaranteed entry" is the one in which I have to pay the entry fee a second time and I get entry irrespective of any qualifying time I might have. In the wider context of applying for entry to the 2013 Marathon, the guaranteed option entry is the one you choose once you have a qualifying time so it is not a question of "believing that you will meet the time". So neither interpretation makes much sense to me and if I just ignore the "therefore" and make my own logical choice I am still left with the fact that they may decide to make the entry standards arbitrarily tougher depending on what all the other 2012 entrants decide to do. After my last experience of trying to get the NYRR to clear up a confusion and receiving an even more confusing reply, I don't really trust that whatever they tell me will actually correspond to reality.

Taking a deep breath, I realize that I don't have to run the New York Marathon this year, even though I would like to. I can always run it next year. I have to accept that even if I run a qualifying time of sub 1 hour 23 in the Getafe Half Marathon on the 27th of January, I will still be running the risk that the time is not good enough. A shame really, because I had thought that beating 1:23 would be equivalent to winning a prize of $350 for doing so.

Here goes, I'm going to make my choice and leave the rest to chance...

UPDATE: As part of the process of asking for my money back, you have to read (or pretend to have read) a long piece of legalese which actually makes the ambiguity I mentioned above slightly less ambiguous. It says:

2) TIME QUALIFIERS − NYRR reserves the right to limit the number of guaranteed entries granted to runners meeting our time qualifying standards for the 2013 Marathon. Therefore, 2012 entrants who believe they will meet those standards, and wish to run in 2013, should consider selecting the option of guaranteed entry into the 2013 Marathon.

As this is in the context of actually making the choice of resolution for the 2012 Marathon and the "therefore" follows a sentence which explicitly says that the places open to runners who have qualifying times will be limited, it is clear that it is encouraging you to choose the other door (non-complimentary guaranteed entry). It stands to reason that they would prefer you not to ask for you money back and try to put the frighteners on you. OK, here goes for real this time.

UPDATE (2): OK, it's done now, I am now "not in". I'm not one to quibble but it wouldn't have hurt for the website to have said beforehand that (a) I won't get the money for 4-6 weeks and (b) I will be charged 1 euro in the meantime just to check that my credit card is still working (or perhaps it is a "processing fee"). Conclusion: the guys at NYRR could do with a little bit of help on how to manage people's expectations, especially when you are talking about a potential angry mob of 40,000 people. I realize that there are a lot of volunteers working there that earn diddly squat but we are, after all, talking about millions of dollars and not all of it goes into Michael Bloomberg's pocket.

No comments:

Post a Comment