Organizers alter lottery system
Race organizers for the Hardrock 100 have approved changes to the lottery system used to choose the 145 entrants of their 100½-mile run through the San Juan Mountains after criticism from a Wyoming lawyer who threatened to sue the race over the selection process.
Race organizers eliminated a $10 nonrefundable fee to gain entry into the lottery and offered refunds for all three years they collected that fee at their quarterly board meeting last weekend.
“There have been assertions that the lottery constituted a raffle, for which Hardrock doesn’t have a license to conduct, and it seemed prudent given the uncertainties of the law, that they needed to eliminate it until they have a raffle license,” said Fred Abramowitz, a lawyer for Hardrock.
For the first time in the event’s 24 years, the board invited three outside observers to watch Saturday’s lottery process, held in New Mexico, to add a level of transparency. Other ultramarathons — such as the Wasatch 100 in Utah and the Western States 100 in California, the world’s oldest 100-mile trail race — conduct their lotteries in public and livestream the process. Hardrock had not done so.
“A lot of this is stuff we had been talking about prior to the board of directors meeting on Saturday,” run director Dale Garland said of the changes.
The lawyer who filed a complaint, Aaron Denberg, called the system of drawing names “illegal” and “unfair.” He criticized Hardrock for holding the lottery in secret and charged that organizers were favoring a select few runners and shortchanging first-time entrants who have a much harder time getting in.
Hardrock is one of the most challenging ultramarathons in the world, requiring participants to ascend some 33,000 feet. It is also one of the most difficult to gain entry, requiring participants to have run a 100mile qualifier and perform community service, then gain entry through a lottery.
This year, 1,968 people applied for the 145 slots, which are limited by the race’s permits with various county, state and federal agencies, including the Bureau of Land Management.
The controversy about who gets in and who is left out comes amid surging interest in ultramarathons, most of which can’t accommodate the large fields of traditional road marathons.
Denberg has not filed a lawsuit.
“We’re a bunch of volunteers or quasi-volunteers just trying to put on the best event,” Garland said. “There’s no malice or ill intent or hidden agendas from anyone.”