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Chicago Marathon runners will be chosen by lottery

The 2012 Chicago Marath | Sun-Times Library

The 2012 Chicago Marathon | Sun-Times Library

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Updated: February 18, 2014 6:27AM

The Bank of America Chicago Marathon confirmed many runners’ suspicions Thursday by announcing participants in this year’s 26.2-mile race will be chosen by lottery — unless they qualify for a slot in a small handful of categories.

Charity runners, wheelchair athletes, and people who have posted speedy marathon finishing times since 2012 are among those who can guarantee themselves a spot in the increasingly popular race.

“The first-come, first-served window is increasingly shortened,” said Carey Pinkowski, the marathon’s executive director.

And last year, the Chicago Marathon’s online registration system crashed shortly after people began signing up. Race organizers eventually turned to a lottery to fill the remaining slots.

Becki Suthers, membership and communications manager for the Chicago Area Runners Association, said many runners suspected there would be changes to the registration process after last year’s glitch.

“Most runners just had a feeling that something was going to be changing,” Suthers said. “I don’t think that a lot of runners were too surprised by the news.”

Pinkowski, though, said the new system comes from years of input.

Anyone can enter this year’s lottery between noon March 5 and noon April 7, according to the marathon’s website. Participants will be chosen at random. All entrants will be notified by email of their selection status April 14.

The credit cards of successful entrants will be charged the full registration fee automatically, the website said. Registration is $185 for U.S. residents and $210 for runners from outside the country.

The field will be capped at 45,000.

People who want to take advantage of the guaranteed-entry system may also do so from noon March 5 until noon April 7. Guaranteed entries will be offered to people who have finished the Chicago Marathon five or more times between 2004 and 2013, who join an official Chicago Marathon international tour partner, or who run for an official marathon charity.

Charity runners are a significant and growing portion of the marathoning community.

“It is a fair access,” Pinkowski said. “It also gives them an opportunity for running for a charity.”

Men who have finished a marathon under 3:15:00 and women who have finished under 3:45:00 on or after Jan. 1, 2012, also may guarantee themselves a spot in the Chicago Marathon.

Wheelchair athletes are asked to email to inquire about registration.

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