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Houston Marathon Goes To A Lottery System, And Not Everyone's Happy

The Houston Marathon announced today that it will use a lottery system for next year's race, in an effort to avoid the snafus that have plagued registration in recent years.

"Due to the increasing demand for our races, the lottery will provide an equal opportunity for all participants to register for the chance to be selected," marathon officials said in their announcement. "The lottery will eliminate errors and delays caused by high traffic volume to our registration site that caused individuals to miss registration before it sold out."

Not everyone's happy.

One runner, Mario Rios, told Hair Balls the lottery hurts runners "who do stay up to all hours and go to extremes to sign up, and the people who run consecutive races or try to break personal bests in a particular race. It's heartbreaking for committed runners."

The marathon says it's trying to accommodate longtime runners by offering guaranteed spots to runners who qualify as "marathon vets," those who have completed at least 10 races.

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You can also guarantee a spot by making a $350 donation to one of the marathon's charitable sponsors.

Registration sold out in 60 hours last year as runner vied to be one of the 22,000 who successfully signed up. Many complained of not being able to access the online site, finding themselves blocked from entering despite hours of attempts.

Registration for the lottery begins July 27 and lasts until August 12. The race itself is set for January 30, 2011.

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