Is the NYC Marathon becoming too popular

Like many folks, I’ve done the following: registered for a marathon, then joined a couple of Facebook groups to connect with other folks about said marathon. For the last two weeks, all three of my NYC Marathon Facebook groups have had 80 million comments about waiting for NYC Marathon lottery results. Actually, it was getting on my nerves. Geez, you’ll find out when you find out.


Although the NYC Marathon’s lottery is over, the pages are now full of folks asking 80 million questions about where to stay in NYC. How close is so and so hotel to the finish line? (Haven’t y’all heard of Google maps?) Maybe I’m just an introvert runner.

Currently, there are a few ways to run 26.2 miles through the five boroughs of NYC

  • 9+1 Guaranteed Entry. You resister for and complete nine New York Road Runners sponsored races and volunteer for one event.
  • Time entry
  • Charity entry
  • International Tour Partners
  • Lottery

Since this is the 50th anniversary of the NYC Marathon, there were way more 9+1 entrants than in previous years. But, isn’t this always be the case? I wonder if we’ll see a dramatic increase in 2026 since this will be the 50th anniversary of the NYC Marathon that we know today. The original 1970 NYC Marathon’s course was entirely in Central Park; whereas, the one in 1976 hit all five boroughs. 


This year, the acceptance rate via lottery was 2.3% compared to 4% last year. Of course, folks who were not selected are saying that the lottery is unfair. I doubt that the lottery would have been unfair if they were selected. Here’s my take: oh well, feet smell. For example, I tried to enter London’s marathon by lottery. I wasn’t accepted and was bummed for about a few minutes. Rather than complaining about how “unfair” the process was, I found another marathon in Europe around the same time. Now it turns out that this stupid coronavirus may prevent me from running Madrid’s marathon. Folks should do the same for NYC. We have a bunch of other fabulous cities in the U.S.; NYC is not the only one. I guess this is easy for me to say this since I live in NYC.

Of course, folks came up with ideas to raise the 2.3% lottery acceptance rate.


Modify 9+1

I can actually see NYRR doing this in the near future by raising the number of races one must complete for guaranteed entry. The 9+1 program is a huge cash cow for NYRR so it makes cent$ sense. Having folks run more races means more $$$$ for NYRR. Folks against the 9+1 entry plan say that it’s unfair and gives NYCers an “unfair” advantage. Well . . . duh. I think that’s kind of the point. I saw a couple other commenters complaining that people who run nine 5Ks during the year do not deserve to have an automatic entry into the NYC Marathon. At the end of the day, those folks are going to train to run the actual marathon. Who cares about which races they run during the year? I know many folks (including yours truly) who are trying to gain 9+1 entry will make the 5K races part of their long runs. 

Charity Entries

It was kind of telling how some folks are a bit selfish and actually said (technically typed) the NYRR should reduce the number of charity spots to accommodate more lottery entrants. Although there are different levels, I believe $2,500 is the minimum amount to be raised for each person running for a charity. Many of the charities raise money for cancer research, children’s illnesses, neurological disorders, youth athletic programs, NYC public schools, etc. Yes! Lets take money from those good causes so I’ll have a higher chance of getting into the marathon by lottery.

LOL. My friend’s husband really wanted to run NYC Marathon a few years back, but I guess that he was too lazy to raise money so he just paid the charity his minimum $3000 bucks. I guess that he really wanted to run 26.2 miles to pay $3K. Then again, he probably wrote off his donation for his taxes.

International Tour Partners

Perhaps, this is the place where the numbers of lottery entrants can be modified. I’m not sure how many spots each tour operator has for the marathon. Perhaps, some of the ITO spots can be moved to the lottery bucket.

I forgot one

I just realized that there is a veteran option. If you run 15 NYC Marathons, then you are set for life. Shoot. If only I had started running marathons when I first moved to NYC, then I would be done by now. I guess that I have nine more NYC Marathons to go. 

Last year NYRR report that there were 53, 627 NYC Marathon finishers. I wonder how many folks entered. I guess going forward, NYRR will have to make some modifications to the number of folks entering and running the marathon. As marathons become more and more popular, these numbers are sure to increase.



  1. Good info on the NYC Marathon. I’m sure many people who don’t live in NYC don’t realize how complicated all of this is. I agree with you on limiting the number of ITO spots and opening up more with the lottery. It would be interesting to know how many spots ITO has and how they acquire them.


  2. i’ve run Boston 2x and NYC one time and entered all three via charity raising money for Leukemia Society and dana farber cancer. Boston the minimum to raise is now $7500! I agree not to take charity spots away to give more lottery entries away. I also love the Boston runners who miss the qualifying times and say charity runners don’t deserve to run it. Try raising 7K and training for it and life… its a lot of work just like qualifying for time. my 2 Cent$ I missed the NYC lottery this year but maybe next year. Would love to run it again! NYC entry rules are pretty fair to me already


  3. I’ve never ran nor desire to run a marathon, but I had two friends get into NYC in 2018 via lottery. My only issue would be paying all that money to enter the lottery then lose it if I didn’t get in. I feel that’s the only unfair part.

    People unable to Google things themselves are a pet peeve of mine. I agree with you, look up hotels on a map!!

    Liked by 1 person

    • I’m not sure, but the problem will get worse as more and more folks start running marathons. New York Road Runners use to have an option if you tried to entry NYC’s marathon via lottery three times and was unsuccessfull, then you would have garenteed entry. But for some reason, New York Road Runners stopped offering that option.


      • The continual increase in demand for these marquee events causes these changes. Boston would have 100K runners if there was room for them. The BQ times keep getting tougher to acheive.


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