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?