An historic marathon event will take place on April 7 without requiring runners to lace up their shoes.
The New York Road Runners (NYRR) will be the first organizer of a major marathon to televise the lottery selection for the field in its ING New York City Marathon scheduled for November 7. The names of at least eight runners selected from its annual lottery will be announced during live streaming at 12 noon Wednesday on its web site.
The event will help the club maintain a high profile in April during the peak spring road running month that focuses attention on several other races. The Credit Union Cherry Blossom 10-Mile run in Washington, D.C. began in 1973 in part to provide a quality training run for those taking part in the Boston Marathon later in the month. Marathon legend Bill Rodgers has won the Cherry Blossom race four times and is scheduled to run again this year on April 11. Joan Samuelson, the 1984 Olympic marathon champion and Rodgers' legendary equivalent for women, is scheduled to run the race for the first time on Sunday.
The Boston Marathon on April 19 is the oldest annual and most revered 26.2-mile race in the world and will take place for the 114th time. The London Marathon with more than 35,000 finishers was the second largest marathon in the world in 2009, behind only New York's more than 40,000 finishers, and will take place on April 25. Marathons in Rotterdam and Paris on April 11 should attract more than 40,000 runners.
The NYRR historically has limited its activity in April, allowing other high profile spring events to attract the most attention. But the live streaming of the lottery selections places the NYRR in the spring mix, albeit properly in the background and prior to the bigger events taking place.
The 15-minute lottery selection show will feature runners randomly picked from more than 100,000 applicants. Less than half of the runners enter the race through the lottery. Other runners enter as professional and celebrity selections, through charity and training groups, or as members of the NYRR.
Gaining entry into the New York City Marathon is considered a prized accomplishment for marathoners and is nearly as gratifying as completing the race. NYRR media director Richard Finn describes the lottery as a Dickensian tale. "It's the best of times and the worst of times," he says. "There will be a lot of happy people and a lot of disappointed people tomorrow."
All lottery selections will be announced at www.ingnycmarathon.org within an hour of the broadcast.
As the selection show evolves, it should include production elements similar to the television broadcasts of the drafts for the NFL and NBA. Those selected should be supported by dynamic graphics that provide background information and should offer comments about their aspirations in the race.
Finn says the NYRR hopes to expand production of future selection shows. He'd like to see a sweepstakes-winner approach to notifying runners with a knock on their front door while recording the moment on video.
The selection show is the second change the NYRR has made to its spring calendar this year. It moved its half-marathon from the oppressive heat in mid-August to more comfortable temperatures of March 21, improving the quality of the field.
It also marks a move toward media independence for the club, which hopes to add a media company that would produce broadcasts of its high profile events and stream them on its web site.
The NYRR marathon selection show will not be the only event worth paying attention to on April 7. About 30 runners are expected to begin the North Pole Marathon on Wednesday at 9 a.m. GMT. Thirty six-runners completed the 2009 race in -35 degree Fahrenheit conditions.
You'll have to wait to watch the race, though. A highlight video will be available on the race web site after organizers have had time to thaw out.