VHTRC Entry System


The Virginia Happy Trails Running Club's events have enjoyed increasing popularity. This popularity, however, meant that entry became hectic and stressful. In response, we developed an entry process that we believe reduces the stress while being transparent and fair. Most of our events that charge an entry fee use the same system with only small variations among them.


The entry process has two parts. You fill out the application at one time, then you come back and pay later. If the number of applicants is greater than number of spaces in the field, we pick the initial entrants to the event by lottery.

You pay on your second visit to us. If we had to have a lottery, and you did not win the right to enter the event, you can join the wait list. We fill vacancies in the field from that list.

Important Points

The rest of this page goes into detail about the process. You can read it if you like, but you don't have to. We will explain the system as you go through it.

The Schedule

The entry process follows a schedule that is set out on the entry page. That schedule has the following periods:


"Qualification" is a prerequisite to the entry process. Currently, only MMT has qualifications for entry. One may not participate in the MMT entry process unless he or she qualifies. This page does not discuss qualifications. For discussion of qualifications, consult the appropriate event Web page.

Filling Out Forms and Paying

Anyone who wants to enter an event must complete the on-line application during the initial application period. This period is usually about a week long.

Runners may apply only one time, under a name they commonly use. This will help ensure that the lottery is fair and that everyone has the same odds. (Entrants may be required to verify their identity at race packet pickup.)

If you have run the event previously, you should use the same name you used before so that you get credit for those finishes. (Prior finishes are a priority for most events.) If your name has changed, please contact the race director before completing the entry application so that you can have credit for your finishes.

While we expect that runners are generally honest, anyone caught trying to subvert or "game" this system may be barred from all future VHTRC events.


Does this mean that entry is hopeless?

You should not interpret this process as meaning that your chance of getting in a race is low. In fact, we believe that the wait list procedure we have instituted will help us accommodate many runners. While we are not sure how many will seek entry, we don't suggest that you assume you can't get in.

We have taken measures to make the lottery open, transparent, and fair. If we need a lottery, here is how it will work.

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. Once a number is issued, it will not be used again.

The applicant's name and randomly generated number are added to the public applicants list immediately. 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 applicants from this list. We will pick applicants equal to the number of runners allowed on the entrants list. We pick the initial entrants by determining a starting number and then taking the applicant with that number and the people next above or below that number until we have filled the list. (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) as it is normally displayed. (We use the one digit to the left of the decimal point and the two digits to the right.) The date of the DOW will be specified before entry begins. 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 one has the exact number from the DOW, we move up or down to the next number with an applicant as the starting point for selection. If the DOW closes up, we move up. Otherwise, we move down. (As used in this explanation, "up/above" or "down/below" mean on the number system, not the page. Thus, 11 is up from and above 10 and 9 is down from and below 10.)

Once we find the starting person, we select him or her and the people below or above (depending on the direction that the DOW sends us) needed to fill the entrants field. 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.

[DOW is usually listed to two decimal places (e.g. 13,438.86). If the last digit is a zero, some sites will drop it. If that occurs, we will add it back. So if see the close 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, he or she is the first person in the event. If not, we go up until we find a number with a name. After we find the first person, we select that person and the people above sufficient to fill the entrants list. If we get to 999 and have not filled up, we go to 0 and work up from there.

The people not selected in the lottery may join the wait list. The wait list will be ordered in conformance with the priorities set out below. (If you are not selected among the initial entrants, you will need to take additional action to secure your position on the wait list. No one is added to the wait list automatically.)

The results of all of this will be posted on this Web site and the people selected have the specified period to come back to complete the entry by paying online. Anyone who has not paid at the end of this period loses his or her slot in the event.

Those eligible to join the wait list, but who have not done so during the time to pay, will lose their wait list priority. (After the initial entry process ends, anyone may join the wait list at the end.)

Since we know that some lottery "winners" will not pay and complete the process, we usually allow some from the beginning of the wait list to pay and join the entrants list also. Regardless of how many we allow to pay and join the wait list, the number equal to the size limit of the field will be decided by the lottery while any additional ones will be decided by wait list priorities.

The point of all of this 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).

The Wait List

Those not selected in the lottery are eligible to join the wait list in the order dictated by the priorities and lottery number. To preserve your priority, you must join the wait list during the same period that successful applicants must pay.

You join the wait list online. The process will be explained to those who have not won the lottery.

For most events, we will allow those who would be near the top of the wait list, pay as if they won the lottery. All lottery winners will not pay. The top of the wait list is virtually guaranteed of entry. Accordingly, we usually allow the top of the wait list to pay right away. This has no impact on anyone's chance of entry.

Wait List Priorities

All applicants will have an equal chance to be selected in the lottery for initial slots in the entrants field. There are no priorities for the lottery winners.

Priorities apply to the order on the wait list. Since we expect significant movement from the wait list to the entrants list, being near the beginning of the wait list creates a significant chance of getting into the event.

Some events do not use all priorities. Any priorities used, however, are in this relative order of precedence.

Priority Categories: (Best First)

Applicants who, on three prior occasions in the last five years, served as pre-committed volunteers at this event and who were not in the starting field of the most recent running of this event.
Prior Champion or Race Director
Prior overall winners of the men's or women's division of this event, or a prior race director of this event.
Five or more prior finishes
Applicants who have finished this event on five or more prior occasions. A "finish" must be within the time limit for the event.
Prior Year Loser
Applied for entry last year and did not get in. Specific conditions are:
   1. You entered the lottery for this event last year and were not selected;
   2. You joined the initial wait list for this event last year;
   3. You did not withdraw from the wait list;
   4. You did not move from the wait list to the entrants list;
   5. You did not start this event last year; and
   6. You apply for this year's lottery and are not selected
One to Four prior finishes
Applicants who have finished this event on one to four prior occasions. A "finish" must be within the time limit for the event.
No Priority
Not qualified for any priority above.

Within categories, applicants are sorted by lottery number in the direction that the DOW closed. In the two categories based on number for finishes, we sort first by number of finishes, then by lottery number. For example, all applicants with three finishes will be ahead of all applicants with two finishes.

No one will know his or her rank on the first version of the wait list until the end of the initial period to join the wait list. Our experience is that some who are eligible to join the wait list will not do so.

Example: Fred, Sam, and Betty are in the same priority group. They have lottery numbers 455, 456, and 457. The DOW was up and the last person to go on the entrants field had lottery number 450. There was no one on lottery numbers 451-454. Fred and Betty joined the wait list by the deadline to pay. Sam did not. Fred and Betty would be the top two applicants on the wait list.

When the wait list reopens after the initial entry period, anyone (and Sam above) may join the wait list at its end.