I’m in. My name was drawn today down in a school gymnasium in Auburn, California, where race officials held the lottery for the 2011 Western States 100 Mile Endurance Run.
I didn’t expect to get in. I was one of over 1600 applicants in the lottery and I don’t win lotteries. When I got into the Knee Knacker in 2007 it was probably the only year in the past decade in which everyone in the lottery was selected.
I also don’t hang out with lottery winners. Tim Wiens has lost as about as many lotteries for the Knee Knacker as Knee Knackers he’s run, and he only finally got into Western States after four tries under their old Two-Time Loser lottery system. You read that right: FOUR times. Tim was a Two-Time Loser times two! (Say that ten times fast!) My people don’t just lose lotteries, they lose them in spectacularly unlucky fashion. Lady Luck doesn’t follow this guy around looking to hook up.
After following the online coverage of the lottery this morning, which saw the webcast video crash and the entrants list get stuck on the first 75 selected entrants after race organizers lost their internet connection, I saw the door quickly closing on my 2011 Western States bid. There were slightly more people than expected vying for slightly fewer spots than we were told in the pre-lottery email. Furthermore, a new policy was introduced this year which gave the nearly 500 losers from last year’s lottery, an extra ‘ticket’ in the bucket for this year’s draw. My lousy odds were even lousier than they first seemed.
The technical difficulties also meant I had no idea what was going on. I did see someone comment on the webcast page that “too many Canadians” were getting in this year. At the time, there were four on the list of 75, so I wondered if that hoser-hater knew something I didn’t or if he was misreading the CA state abbreviation for California incorrectly as Canada.
NOTE: I should mention that contrary to my lottery theory, my buddy Mike Palichuk was among that first 75 so I consoled myself by thinking that if Tim is not able to run this year because of injury, maybe I could hitch a ride with Mike’s crew for the race.
After about half an hour, internet service was eventually restored to the Placer High School gym and the entrants list began to grow. With 180 of 219 names drawn, Mike and Chad Hyson were the only British Columbians and only two of seven Canadians selected — seven is ‘too many Canadians’? Any disappointment I may have been feeling was overtaken by relief that I would have the $370 entry fee to spend on Xmas gifts instead.
Then, with my wife peering over my shoulder, I hit refresh and BAM! There was my name right after Mike’s. Good God! We gasped and reeled in shock. WTF?!? My head was a blur of questions, foremost among them, “Now what?” I can only imagine what Sandra’s first thoughts were.
My happiness at being selected was tempered by the enormity of the task ahead. It’s a feeling I haven’t had since I started training for my first marathon seven years ago: exciting and frightening at the same time. In many ways it’s similar: I had only raced half the distance a couple of times when I signed up for that marathon, but I knew many people who had run marathons so I figured, why couldn’t I? Today, I’ve run two 50-milers and probably know even more people who have run 100-milers now than I knew marathoners then. So yeah, there’s no reason I can’t run one. I’ve also got eight years of running experience behind me, rather than the eight months I’d had since becoming a runner again when I registered for that marathon, so that’s got to count for something. Right?
Whatever happens, this promises to be an exciting seven months. Time to get started!
UPDATE — In case anyone is curious, the $370 US entry fee converted to $381.43 Canadian. Yikes!