Tuesday, April 17, 2007

William Irvin Sails; Grandma's Still in Port

The William Irvin 5K, one of the Grandma's Marathon weekend events, has filled its 1200 runner limit, race officials announced late last week. It joins the Garry Bjorklund Half Marathon in reaching its entant limit in short order. The Irvin 5K takes place Friday, June 15; the Bjorklund Half runs on Saturday, June 16.

Grandma's marathon, also set for June 16, is still open to entrants -- roughly 100 spots within the start-area fence are still available, race officials say. In March, Grandma's officials attributed the lag in marathon entries to last year's hot and humid conditions prompting marathoners from 2006 to opt for the half marathon in 2007.

The explanation wasn't completely convincing to us. We'd expect marathoners who didn't hit their goal in 2006 to be all the more likely to try again the next year.

We followed up with Ryan Lamppa of Running USA (and, as it happens, a former MSHSL record-holder in the 200 and 400 from his days in the late 1970's as a star at Benson High School.) Lamppa, who follows trends in road racing, noted other factors that may be effecting Grandma's.

"Perhaps marathon 'fatigue' -- i.e, the thrill is gone or isn't as thrilling/novel -- and the growth and appeal of the half-marathon explain the non-sellout slow down," Lamppa speculated in an e-mail. "Another factor also could be the non-online registration for Grandma's - which is more of a hassle, less convenient. On-line registation, as you know, is ubiquitous and people are now 'trained' to expect it."

Grandma's is expected to have on-line registration next year.

"The most impressive growth distance is the half-marathon," Lamppa added, "overall and especially for women. For example, in 2002, 49% of half-marathon fields in the U.S. were female and by 2006, it was 53%!"

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