Hey There! Read This First
This page describes the WHM entry process in excruciating detail. You do not need to know everything on this page! We set it all out in the interest of full disclosure and for the truly anal. You need not read this. We will tell you what you need to know as you complete the entry process.
This is like the transmission in your car. All you have to know is to put it in “D” and go. You can, if you want, read a manual that describes about how a transmission works. But the complication inside the transmission needn’t make driving the car complicated.
The three major events of the Virginia Happy Trails Running Club, including the Women’s Half Marathon, have enjoyed increasing popularity. This has meant, however, that entry has become hectic and stressful. In response, we have developed an entry process that we believe reduces the stress while being transparent and fair.
Does This Mean That Entry Is Hopeless?
No! You should not interpret this process as meaning that your chance of getting into this race is low. In the past few years, everyone who has applied for entry during the initial entry period has been able to run.
Some would argue that we don’t need this entry system because the event has never needed the lottery that the process provides for. We continue this process for two reasons. First, it promotes calm and less stressful entry. Second, demand for this run can be unpredictable. If we went to simple first-come, first-served entry and the demand increased, we would have a potential mess. First-come, first-served entry tends to inflate demand and force hasty, less thoughtful action. (It's like musical chairs. When the music stops, there is always pushing and shoving.)
The application process is in two parts. You fill out the application at one time; then you come back and pay later. In between those two times, we pick the initial entrants to the event by lottery if necessary. (For the past few years, we have not needed to use the lottery.)
You will pay on your second visit to us. If we needed a lottery and you did not get in the initial field, you can join the waiting list. We will fill vacancies in the field from that list.
Filling Out Forms and Paying
This process, except as noted below, is online. There is no paper option for entry. You will also pay online.
We use PayPal to process our payments. There is a fee for that, but the VHTRC pays it out of your entry fee.
You do not have to have a PayPal account to pay. You may use a credit card. If you do have a PayPal account, you may use it to pay, but you are not required to.
The waiting list process can involve paper if you want to mail us a check to hold your spot. But most people elect to pay the entry fee online to join the waiting list, with the money being refunded if you don't get in. Your options are clearly explained when you join the waiting list.
Anyone who wants to run the Women’s Half Marathon should complete the online application during the initial application period. (All exact dates are on the Entry page.)
Runners may apply only once, under a name they commonly use. (All entrants accepted may be required to verify their identity at race packet pickup. This is necessary to help ensure that the lottery is fair and even and that everyone has the same odds.)
We expect that runners are generally honest, so anyone caught trying to subvert or “game” this system may be barred from all future VHTRC events.
The following description assumes that there will be a lottery. We have never needed a lottery in this event, so none of this has ever mattered.
All applicants have an equal chance to enter the race, with the exception of a very few women with "priority" status. Those with priority status are prior race directors of the WHM and prior overall winners of the event. Women in these classes will be guaranteed selection if they apply and will not have to go through the lottery. These women do not receive free entry. Everyone must pay to run the race.
At the end of the application period, the people with priority will be moved to the official entrants list and will not be in the lottery. The remainder will be in the lottery. After the lottery is over, we will publish lists of all who are eligible to pay and join the entrants list and those who may ask to be on the waiting list.
We have taken measures to make the lottery open, transparent, and fair.
During the period that application is open, each person who fills out an application will be given a unique, randomly generated number from 0 to 999. The applicant's name and her randomly generated number are added to the applicants list immediately and can be seen by the public. The applicants list will be "ordered" based on the randomly generated number. (But wait! Number 1 is not necessarily better than number 698. Keep reading.)
We will determine the initial entrants by picking 240 applicants from this list. We pick them by determining a starting number and then taking it and the 239 people above or below that number. (So if the starting number is 680, it sounds like 1 isn't doing so well.)
The starting number is determined by using the least three significant digits of the closing Dow Jones Industrial Average (DOW). The date of the DOW will be specified before entry begins (see below). (The DOW number is available on any number of Web sites. If there is any question about what the DOW close was on the day in question, we will go by the number on the site maintained by Dow Jones & Company, which "owns" the DOW.)
If no applicant has that exact number from the DOW, we move up or down to the next number with an applicant on the list as the starting point for selection. If the DOW closes up, we select up. Otherwise, we select down. (For these purposes "up" and "down" mean greater than and less than not up or down the page. So if we count up from 10, we go to 11. Counting down from 10 goes to nine.)
Once we find the starting person, we select her and the 239 people below or above her (depending on the direction the DOW sends us.) If we get to the end/beginning of the applicant list and not all the slots have been filled, we wrap around to the beginning/end and continue selecting.
[The DOW is usually reported to two decimal places (e.g. 13,438.86). If the last digit is a zero, it may be dropped. If that occurs, we will add it back. So if the close is reported as: 13,438.8, we will start at 880.]
Example: If the DOW closes up at 13,625.58, our starting number would be 558. We would look at number 558 on the applicants list. If there is a person at 558, she is the first person in the event. If not, we go up until we find a number with a name (perhaps 560). After we find the first person, we select her and the 239 people above her. If we get to 999 and have not reached 240, we go to 0 and work up from there.
The people not selected in the lottery may join the waiting list. Waiting list priority will be determined by the random number. So the 241st person, the first not to get in the event, would be the first one on the waiting list if she takes the steps to join. (You are not put on the waiting list automatically.)
The results of all of this will be posted on this Web site, and the people selected will have the period below to come back to complete the entry by paying online. Anyone who has not paid at the end of this period would lose her slot in the event.
Those eligible to join the waiting list but who have not done so during the time to pay will lose their waiting list priority. (After this process ends, anyone may join the waiting list at the bottom.)
The point is transparency. All applicants know where they stand and where everyone else stands at all times via the Web. The selection of the initial number (the DOW) is available on the Web and is completely out of the hands of the VHTRC (indeed, anyone for that matter).
For lottery purposes, mother/daughter teams will be treated as one runner, the mother. If the mother gets in, the daughter will too. If the mother does not get in, the daughter will not get in.
We will do this by temporarily removing the daughter from the ordered list of applicants.
Each mother of a mother/daughter team will represent two runners. If the 240th runner selected is a mother of a mother/daughter team, we will put her and her daughter in the field. In that case, we will select 241 entrants. We will not fill from the waiting list, however, until the entrants list is below 240.
The effect of all of this is that if you are on a mother/daughter team, your chances of getting in the run should be the same as any other applicant, but you are assured that both of you will get in, or not get in, together.
The Waiting List
Those not selected are eligible to join the waiting list in the order that your random number dictates. So, as mentioned above, the 241st person in the lottery would be No. 1 on the waiting list. To preserve your priority, you must join the waiting list during the same period that successful applicants must pay.
You will join the waiting list by mailing in a check or by paying on PayPal. If you don't get in, we tear up your check or refund your PayPal payment. Your options to join the waiting list are fully explained during that process.
Example: If you would have been the 241st person in the field and you join the waiting list by sending in a check, you will be No. 1 on the waiting list if we receive your check by the last day for entrants to pay. If we receive your check after the last day to pay, you still be on the waiting list, but you will join it at the bottom. (Checks received the same day will be shuffled to determine their priority among each other.)
The schedule is set out on the main entry page.