NYC Triathlon Registration Frustration
After hearing about the NYC triathlon for some friends I was eager to sign up for the 2010 race being held on July 18th. There were a maximum of 3200 entrant for the race which is the same number as for 2009. Tickets wee scheduled to go on sale at 12:01am EST on Nov 1st 2009. The entrance fee was $245 and the 2009 race sold out in just 22 minutes.
On Halloween night after handing out around 500 pieces of candy (we live in an extremely Trick-or-Treat friendly neighbourhood), I set my alarm clock and went to bed for an hour. I had the web page (www.nyctri.com) up and ready and had already created my Active.com account to speed up the processing. When I refreshed the registration page I received a “page busy” response. I kept on trying but kept getting the same message. I started looking for other ways in such as finding a link through Active.com, but the only link available was for NYC tri merchandise; which I mistakenly registered for and even printed off. I kept trying the registration link and kept getting the page busy message. When I did finally get past the busy page, the message greeting me read “This event is Sold Out”. Great!!!
The popularity of Triathlon’s is amazing, especially for key events like the New York City Triathlon. Who would image that so many people would be willing to pay $245US - 8 months before the event, to get up before the sun for a swim in the Hudson river before cycling 40km and running 10km. Apparently then event sold out in just 7 minutes and 20,000 people tried to register for the 3,200 spots, leaving almost 17,000 people as frustrated as I was. It took me 90 minutes to settle down enough to fall asleep, only to be greeted by the lingering frustration when I awoke in the morning.
The registration process could be improved as the race organizer (John Korff) noted in the email to me. Apart from the entries available through a charity group, spots could be awarded based on results in other races. Doing this would help to promote other races that may not have the same interest and participation level. The organizer could establish a whole network of races leading up to a NYC event. There could also be a lottery of sorts much like for the Ironman key events.
Demand clearly far outstrips supply and whenever this is the case, somehow alternatives seem to present themselves; although they can be costly. I wrote an email to the John Korff asking for any alternative ways to register. I got an email response 2-days later informing me that I could sign up through one of the charities that are associated with the event or apply for a Champions Club ticket. I was pleased to have received a response and proceeded to investigate my options.
The Champions Club ticket cost $500 and entitled me to two passes to the race VIP tent post race as well as a Club Champions shirt. I have no idea what the VIP tent is all about but I would much rather win a shirt that says Champions on it than buy one (but wouldn’t we all).
I scanned the list of charities most of which are US based which makes it a little awkward for fundraising in Canada. With a commitment of $500US in fundraising you are guaranteed a spot in the race. I went ahead and contacted those charities with a $500 minimum only to find out that all of their spots had been taken. I moved up to the $1000 minimum level and found that there was a charity with spots left; The Running Start Foundation. Other Charities with NYC tri spots still available are as follows:
- At the $2000 minimum level – MDA ALS Division (Lou Gherig’s Disease)
- At the $2500 minimum level - Life without Lupus Foundation & the American Cancer Society.
I still have not made a decision on which path to take in order to register for the event. I don’t feel right about asking someone to make a donation on my behalf just so that I can participate in a race. I should be making the donation on my own behalf or be championing a cause that I truly believe in. Last month my wife did just that in raising money for Breast Cancer research for a 5km walk/run in Toronto. It definitely was not about the walk itself but about the cause.