Over-Subscribed runs

Seems to me that more and more races are No Entry on the day, and lots sell out very quickly.

Case in point is Great Bentley Half, which sold out in 6 hours apparently, and as I was in Eastbourne running Beachy Head that weekend, it wasn't high on my radar.

Now, I'm not whinging, I'm pleased for GBRC, its a good race and deservedly popular, and I've booked in to Watford instead, all good.

But, some fellow club members really like to run Gt Bentley and asked if there was a waiting list or a possibility of using an uncollected number and were told it was out of the question.

Which brings me to the main topic - Can anyone think of a system where you can turn up to a sold-out race on the off chance of getting one of the spare numbers as there always look like load of envelopes left just before the start of most races?

I know why the Race Organisers don't let this happen, so no need to tell me, but it seems a shame all those numbers not being used by runners who really wanted to do the race.

Anyone got any ideas or know of races where they do have any such system?


  • Race organiser for another race, so I'll sling in my thoughts:

    - In case of emergency I need to know who's running

    - For the results I want to know everyone's age and sex, 

    - How close would you leave it to the race to decide someone hasn't turned up

    - I have a fairly good idea what proportion of people won't turn up based on past races, so sell that many more places than the number of runners permitted by the licence. That means everyone's getting slightly cheaper entries in return for lack of flexibility

    - I'm a runner - I love doing races. It don't like turning people away on the day who could run, but the alternatives just aren't practical. I'd love it if someone answers the thread with a great idea I haven't thought of.

  • I can't think of any off hand - but some races would struggle if all of their places were used. They need a buffer of people not running.

    So they could either use your system and have a lower limit - and reduce their revenue and increase on the day hassle with registration, or keep things as is.
  • I can think of a couple (Keyworth Turkey Trot half and Castle Rock 10k) which either allow transfers up to a cut-off point or allow returns on the day. What they both have in common though is being fairly small, localish races. I imagine for bigger races the extra admin burden + reliable estimated buffer of no-shows kicks in.

  • As Lit says, allow for number swaps also on the day if possible though this depends on the size of the race.

    A local race this year emailed and requested if we can't run to let them know so they could pass the number on, but again I guess again would depend on the size of the race.

    And of course, PPP's third point above.

  • It would work if you declared that any runner who hadn't collected their number (say) 20 minutes before the due start time forfeits their entry.  Potential runners arrive before that, fill in the entry, then join a queue with their cash ready.  20 minutes to go, they start getting the unused numbers, details can be entered into whatever system the organiser is using in the same way that entries on the day would be.

    Or, make it easier for runners who aren't going to show up to let the organisers know, even on the morning of the race.  Right now, if I decide that I'm not going to run, there's no point letting the organiser know because my number is just going to sit in an envelope in a box anyway.  If I had a text number to use to let them know they could re-sell my number then I'd use it, even if I wasn't getting my entry fee back.  I'm a runner, I'd want an unused entry to be used somehow.

  • Or, wait until the race has actually started, then sell the unused numbers off cheap for a second wave starting 20 minutes after the first.  No chips, so no official times or problems with the results, but you take your own time and get the medal at the end. No issue with the overall number of runners because the two waves wouldn't overlap too much (and the numbers in the second would be much less than the first)

  • Think of the Marshall's and the extra time they will be on the course if you introduced 2 waves image

  • senidMsenidM ✭✭✭
    Thx for all the thoughts, about sums up the situation, and PPP has got it dead right, but I'm still somewhat peeved if I can't get into a race and I know there'll be quite a few DNS who took the place I wanted!

    I can see that from the race organiser's viewpoint its not a problem, oversell your race expecting a 10% DNS, and the no-shows, tough luck.

    But as most races are now chip timed I wonder if the people who organise that side might see an opportunity for some extra revenue.

    A lot are now done by, for example ChiptimingUK, amongst others, and there might be a way for them to take details before a race, say up to 15minutes before the start, and then re-allocate the unpicked-up number.

    So PPP, you sell out your race, with a stipulation, all numbers must be picked up 30min before the start, but have on your entry form a proviso that entries on the day may be available on a first come first served basis.

    The chip company can then take details, (can be input while the race is on) and they can then provide you with full info re results as usual.

    Effectively you will then have sold the same place twice, but still not exceed your stated max entry, and so as long as you haven't under provided the end of race goodies all is well.

    Business opportunity?
  • Jan77 wrote (see)

    Think of the Marshall's and the extra time they will be on the course if you introduced 2 waves image

    20 minutes max.  That's assuming that the slowest runners are in the second wave.  Last time I marshalled a 10 mile race I was out on the course for over 2 hours anyway.  You'd make it condition of the second wave entry that marshalls on the second half of the course will be withdrawn after the last runner from the first wave has passed.

  • It's a nice idea but how many would travel to a race on the off-chance that they might get a number? And if they do, they'd have to travel already in kit and ready to roll because there wouldn't be time to change and stow baggage etc.

  • senidMsenidM ✭✭✭
    So would be for the keen runners only Muttley,image

    and if I did turn up but still couldn't get in I can always run the course backwards?
  • senidMsenidM ✭✭✭
    I mean the opposite way round, not literally backwards, but then again...........
  • It seems like we're approaching the issue from the wrong direction. The answer surely is to minimise no-shows.

    The answer to this is fairly simple: overcharge people when they register, and give a partial rebate to those who run. Eg a ??50 registration fee, but a ??30 rebate to those who cross the start & finish lines. This could be introduced in parallel with a way to give back places in advance, so those on the waiting list can know they have a place well in advance. Et voila!
  • Basically already said, but a lot of big and well established events do habitually oversell knowing a certain number won't turn up. I think it was either the London Marathon or the Great North Run where the organisers said they get almost dead on 7% of the field DNSing every year, so oversell accordingly!

  • Big_GBig_G ✭✭✭

    In one of the races my club organises (Dartmoor Discovery) there is a strict limit of numbers of entry (250) and it sells out in a few days.  There is a transfer system the club has in place, where people who are not running can transfer their number to someone on a waiting list that the club manages.  However, even with that, the race usually still isn't full when the gun goes off, and I think it's at least partly because people want to wait until the last minute to see if they are fit enough to run it.

  • i think allowing transfers up to the week before would reduce a lot of the no shows......

     and id fair for all.....

    I would never travel to a race all kitted up on the off chance I might be able to race..If i was that desperate to do a race I would make sure I was on the computer when it opened..

  • Keep an eye on forums etc and see if someone has a ticket to sell or give away that they can't use themselves. A mate of mine did this one year and then used the same number next year too. Saved himself over 60 pounds and no harm done.

  • Dan ADan A ✭✭✭
    Too many races open entries far too early; often the day after the event for the following year. Result being that all the places are sold too far ahead for many to be sure if they'll be able to run (work, fitness, holidays, injury etc).

    If races allowed, say, a 50% refund up to a month before then they could resell the place and make 150% of the entry fee. Everyone benefits; runners,organisers and sponsors who would prefer a full event.

    Like most been out of pocket when a change of circumstances have meant I've had to miss a race having paid, with no facility to offer or transfer the place, and knowing someone would take it if available. Many events get all threatening about lifetime bans if you dare to just give the number to someone else. A ludicrous situation all round.
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