Or­ga­niz­ers al­ter lot­tery sys­tem

The Denver Post - - SPORTS - By Daniel Petty

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.”

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