January 25th has come and gone, and for those of you who don’t follow me on instagram, the 25th was the annual Day of Anxiety for all of those runners hoping to secure a bib to the 2018 Seawheeze Half Marathon.
In years past, securing one of the 10,000 available bibs was much like trying to get tickets to see the Backstreet Boys in 1999. You fire up your computer (and all of your other interwebs devices) and start compulsively refreshing about 60 seconds until the clock hits 10:00:00am, and the chance to enter your info goes from grayed out to “OMG I AM TYPING MY NAME AND THIS IS AWESOME AND OH MY GOD I HOPE I DON’T FORGET MY OWN ADDRESS AND BIRTHDAY IN THE NEXT 32 SECONDS AS I RACE TO COMPLETE THINGS AND DON’T EVEN BOTHER TO DOUBLE CHECK BECAUSE TIME. IS. OF. THE. ESSENCE.”
After years of inevitable EventBrite crashes and countless complaints on social media about having to be available for a narrow 20 minute window or else you’re completely f*cked out of a chance to run, lululemon HQ decided to change things up this year.
How it Worked
Of the 10,000-runner cap, lulu held back 500 spots for LegaSeas, Employees and Ambassadors. It’s their race, they can do what they want with 5% of the field.
LegaSea runners were offered guaranteed race entry for the second year in the row. I don’t mind this perk. If you’ve been around for that long, it’s nice. As a frequent flier mile monger, I respect Seawheeze’s version of a loyalty program. Also, the pool will never increase in numbers, the group can only shrink as people unfortunately can’t run for whatever reason.
For the rest of us: There was a 24-hour window in which all hopefuls could submit their information into a “non-guaranteed entry draw”. Approximately 8 hours later, congratulatory emails would be fired off to the first 9500 lucky entrants, who then had until the end of the following day to officially register and punch their golden ticket to the big race.
If anyone selected in the initial draw opted not to enter, their window of opportunity slammed shut, and another batch of emails would be sent out the following day, and those individuals then had the same 32-ish hour window to confirm their spot before the process continues down the line. As of this writing, the third wave of emails should be going out tonight (Tuesday).
The Good, the Bad and the Theorists
Now that I’ve gone through the registration process (and luckily secured spot in the first draw), here are my thoughts:
- People who were previously working/traveling and unable to access their personal devices for whatever reason were no longer excluded; the window of opportunity to throw one’s name in the pool was opened to 24 hours.
- A random lottery is as fair as it can be, and is how entries to other incredibly popular races like the NYC Marathon are allotted.
- Because of the rolling acceptance, people may not accept an entry if their friends didn’t get in at the same time. Then, there’s the risk of not accepting a bib initially because you don’t want to leave your friend(s) out, but then they get a bib at a later date and you’ve given up your shot at racing. This may backfire for groups who want to run together.
- Planning your training schedule could prove difficult, depending on when you get accepted to the race.
- Seawheeze hotels are ALREADY sold out. If you get a bib later than yesterday, then you’re stuck paying expensive Vancouver prices.
STUCK IN THE MIDDLE
- You can only register for yourself. It’s good that people can’t hoard bibs and sell them on the black market, however, it’s tough to plan a group trip if only a few of the people in your group who want to run are able to get in.
- You enter your information into the pool, and all you can do is sit on your hands and hope the algorithm chooses you. It’s MUCH less stressful, but it’s also tough to feel so helpless and reliant on a bunch of 1’s and 0’s to decide if you’re worth a bib.
- No more transfers. Last year, SW introduced transfers in case an injury or other plan came up and bib holders found themselves no longer able to run. If you couldn’t run, then it was your responsibility to find another runner to offload the bib to, and complete the transfer officially through lululemon. We took advantage of this last year, as my friend Krystle got injured and I ended up traveling to Vancouver and racing alone. Because of this transfer, I was able to transfer Krystle’s bib to an AthletiKaty reader, instead of letting it go to waste.
- A Refund Policy has replaced the Transfer Policy from last year. If you can’t run, then it’s good that you can get your money back and no longer have to hunt down your replacement. It’s bad(ish) that this means runners may be offered bibs as close as 4 weeks prior to the race date, which is NOT ample time to train properly. In 2017, I trained for 18 weeks. I will likely start earlier this year, just because I already did the math and I’m too antsy to not start caring about Seawheeze until JUNE.
Okay, so maybe the phrase “conspiracy theory” is a bit extreme, but it got your attention, right? :p
I belong to a few lululemon-related groups on Facebook and am admittedly more of a lurker than an active participant. One that the algorithm has been pushing toward the top of my feed lately is the 2018 Seawheeze Chat Group. I really enjoy Seawheeze, but it’s been interesting to see all the back and forth (read: obsession) that some people have with every minute detail surrounding the registration process.
Some questions/thoughts that I’ve seen posted:
- What time did you enter the lottery, and did you get in?
- Did you or did you not enter your social media handles, and did you get in?
- How many prior years have you run Seawheeze (or how many half marathons have you run in general), and did you get in?
- What time did you get your email?
- Do you think that first timers were favored?
- Soooo many good luck hearts/vibes to people who haven’t gotten emails yet
- How long will this drag on for before all 10,000 spots fill?
- Do you think that non-serious Seawheezers with only casual interest flooded the pool because it was ‘easier’ to register?
- Lululemon actually said they are “not permitted” to disclose how many people entered the lottery. Really bro? Legally not permitted, or do the suits in the C-Suite want to keep an air of mystery around the race?
Some people suspect that the answers given on the entry draw submission affected one’s chances of being selected or not. Questions included social media handles and basic demographic info. It all happened so fast, but I can’t remember if it was the DRAW entry or the RACE entry form that asked about prior race experience, 2018 Seawheeze goals and your absolute favorite piece of workout clothing ever (even if it’s not lululemon).
It’s been interesting to read, and I’ve come to the conclusion you simply can’t make EVERYONE happy. Any way you do registration, not everyone who wants a bib is going to get one. Given the racing OMG adrenaline drama of years past, I felt a lot more calm about this year’s entry process. I appreciated not having to post up and freak out in the middle of the work day, and just leaving it all to chance. However, as I noted above, there are some drawbacks.
At the end of the day, I commend lululemon for heeding feedback and making an effort to make things more fair for all who want to participate, whether they’ve run 0 or 5 SeaWheezes in the past.
EDIT: More Side Notes
Just had a thought right now… usually SeaWheeze attracts the diehard of diehards – I wonder how this will affect showcase store madness, if there aren’t as many runners/shoppers that are as ‘dedicated’ to getting in line early and scoring a good haul?
Also, I wonder if there will be a higher number of volunteers this year, mostly people who normally would have gunned for a spot and still want to take part in the weekend if they have friends/family runnning?
Seeing that I feel a bit more connected to those of you who follow here than a bunch of random names in a FB group, I wanted to throw my 2 cents around and ask all of you for your opinions.
What do you think about the change up? Good? Bad? Indifferent?
I hate the lottery system even while I get that it has a certain fairness to it. Now I’ll admit I didn’t get an email (this would have been my 4th SeaWheeze) but truthfully because of life circumstances this year that’s probably a good thing. I preferred being able to transfer my bib because I could register and then transfer it if need be. I actually felt a lot more stress with this system. In years past I did have a certain amount of control and even if I didn’t get a bib I still knew I did everything I could. This way it didn’t matter how much you wanted to go, how dedicated you were, how much time you put aside to make it happen, your chances were the same. And I feel like generally if it matters you’ll make time. Of course that’s not 100% and life happens but we knew registration day for months and months. I think this allowed people who only causally cared to get a bib.
My best friend got a bib in the second wave and he also hates this system so I don’t think it’s just sour grapes. I prefer the old system and I’m sorry to see they went to a lottery. I look forward to a race review in September after you run, while I’ll likely be recovering from childbirth. If they would have just left it in August I could have run with my pregnant belly, damn them for moving the race date 🙂 Well, I would have needed to win the lottery too for that but hey, it could still come!
I agree with you on the casual runners. Because it was easier to take a shot in the dark and not have to post up right at registration time on the dot, I am willing to bet that drew in more entrants than usual to “see what the fuss was all about”.
In all honesty, I’m probably more chill with how things worked out this year b/c I got in than how I’d have felt if I didn’t. I’d probably have been salty as a multi-year runner, even though I tried to psych myself out and come up with 100 solid reasons that I’d be okay with not getting into 2018, in the event that I didn’t get a bib.
Congratulations on getting in!!! The lottery process has been torturous. I was heartbroken when I did not make it on the first try. Although registration was so stressful in the past, I felt like I had some control. This time, I felt like it was all left up to luck. I did make it on the 2nd round and I was shocked. It was hard to be too excited knowing others who have done this race a few times did not get in. It will be interesting to see how the vibe is this year. Hope I see you in the lineup again!
You’re totally right. Come to think of it I probably only felt like it was stress-free because I got an email as early as possible. I’d probably be pulling my hair out (just like I would be on an old school registration day) every 48 hours, which is SO not zen.
Congratulations on getting in on the second wave, because odds are even slimmer!
I have to admit that I was pretty OK with the lottery system until I got snubbed the first time. And the second time. And now the third time. I am really disappointed to not attend SeaWheeze this year, and the agony of the every other day draws really sucks. Failing to get in via the old system would have been an easier pill to swallow in my opinion.
They have gotten a ton of feedback about this process, and it will be interesting to see what kinds of changes they make to the lottery system next year. And the withholding of the number of entries/odds is not a surprise. The lack of transparency does raise suspicions though. Yes, it is the lululemon way to keep secrets, but they could have rigged this system any way they wanted and no one would be the wiser.
To build on your point re: secrecy, I am actually surprised that in the fine print not only did they disclose that they were holding back 500 spots for preferential treatment, they also admitted that the shorts are only worth $30, but they retail for $58. Nice.
I’ve registered successfully the past 3 years and didn’t get in this year however I like the lottery. It just makes sense given the popularity of the race. I do hope new people are getting a chance to experience the race and hope it reduces the store craziness. One thing I don’t like though is the rolling draws. I’m trying to make alternate plans and I honestly don’t want to get into seawheeze in August. And regret my other plans. I would prefer a hard “you’re out of luck” rather than a “keep your fingers crossed”.
I agree with you on the rolling thing. I think the best may have been to do a binding lottery, if you entered the draw it was because you were serious, and not casual curious. I think the casual curiosity is what’s resulting in people to not commit. I can’t believe they haven’t filled all the spots yet.
I was one of the lucky ones and couldn’t (still can’t ) believe I got a spot in the first wave. My friend did too (again still can’t believe). We’ve both tried for years to get in and failed. We are both Seawheeze virgins. Not sure how in the world we were both chosen but so thankful and blessed we are able to experience what I hope to be an incredible race weekend! We both did register right at noon cst on the dot.
I think that LLL’s change to the lottery process was a good choice-Even if I wouldn’t have gotten in, I still would have thought this was a much more fair way. However, I do not agree that they should have a rolling registration up until almost the time of the race. It does not give out-of-towners enough time to plan. In addition, most hotels are already sold out. I can’t imagine what the runner would do for lodging! I also think for 2019, they should keep a lottery style, but registrants should have the option to add a plus one and also open up a few group spots (3-5 in a group). That way friends/family who want to run together won’t need to panic or feel stressed out about running alone.
I was also lucky enough to get in on the first draw. I was shocked actually. I like the lottery in that it makes things easier for people in different time zones and also for people who can’t be at their computer/device during registration. I do think they should ask for cc info and charge you when you get in but I’ve also heard they aren’t legally allowed to do that. I dunno.
This rolling thing does need to go. I live here so if I got a June entry, fine. If I had to travel? Not a chance. I’m torn on whether they should allow groups to register. It is nice but it also really reduces the number of spots. Maybe allowing transfers would help with that?
Congrats on getting in! I hope you have a great time in our fair city!
Thanks Sharon V! Super excited! 🙂
I ran it with a friend in 2015…thought this year my husband and I would run it together and try to get in. No go. That’s sad…. Never knew about these “waves”…I guess we never caught a single one. Lame. Instead of registering in the first 5 minutes I guess I should have just waited for the last 5….or been a blogger. 🙂 Have a good run…. Crush it this year!
HATE the lottery.
I promise you that you would feel very differently had you not been selected (as I am sure that I would had I been selected). Especially when less “hardcore Lululemon people” are getting in. People are like “oh yeah I was chosen, but turns out the 173$ is just too expensive”, or “I just wanted to see if I could get in”, or the best “OMG, the email was in my junk folder and I forgot to check!”.
There are FOUR people in our group (who were planning on taking the afternoon off of work to register before we found out about the lottery procedure this year) and not even one of us had gotten in, even after more “waves” have gone by then I can count. We are not bloggers and 3 of us are first timers.
It boggles my mind to hear about all these groups getting in or like 7 out of 8 of them getting in…
At this point I give up. The first few lotteries hurt the most. After that you might feel disappointed, but you know that you have like virtually no chance of getting in anymore, accommodations are sold out, your short size is probably not available (and YES, the special shorts are an *important* part of the whole Seawheeze “experience”) etc…
I have ZERO desire to participate in this race if I am “chosen” for it in June, July or August. When I sign up for Seawheeze, as an out-of-towner, I am making a significant financial commitment and want to experience all that is Seawheeze. That includes the race to register for a spot, the shorts, the training plan, the travel, the showcase store, the yoga, the lulu camaraderie and the beautiful RACE itself. I’m not willing to spend thousands of dollars for half the experience. Nor am I willing to put my life on hold for MONTHS to wait for a last minute spot that I might not even get.
The only thing that would make this process worse is if they kept the lottery system for next year AND allow for group registrations. I can only imagine how much more sketchiness with regards to entry into the lottery would take place if they allowed for group registrations!
If they do continue with the lottery system, people should be charged the full amount upon registration for the lottery (that would avoid a ton of “fraudulent-not-always-detected-by-Lululemon” entries). If you don’t get in, you are immediately refunded. If you do get in, you have 24 hours to change your mind & get a partial refund (say they have to pay a 50$ admin fee). 24 hours after that (so 48 hours after the lottery) have a first come, first serve registration for all the remaining spots.
That would prevent a (nearly) THREE WEEK rolling lottery (with no end in sight!?! Please just put us out of our misery already!) from taking place.