Ultra-distance running races fill so quickly these days. It wasn’t so long ago that you could show up for an event on race morning, after a last-minute analysis of both your fitness and the forecast, and still be permitted to toe the start line. These days, a highly anticipated registration day arrives and within hours, sometimes within minutes, the race is filled to capacity. Some races over-book their entrant list, banking on a 10% withdrawal rate before the event begins. Other race directors create a waitlist of eager participants who wait (and train?) in hopes of a registered runner having second thoughts before race day arrives. In either scenario, race organizations can correctly anticipate the amount of money they have to spend on permits, food, prizing, finisher garments, aid station supplies, insurance and other costs, as well as planning their volunteer crew according to real numbers.

There are many negatives to being a waitlisted runner. I find it truly difficult to be motivated to train for an event that I might be in. When it is raining, snowing, too hot or simply too beautiful out, I am able to convince myself that I don’t really have to train since I don’t have a concrete goal to work towards. It also feels unkind to lie in wait, hoping that a registered runner gets injured or sick or overwhelmed by family or work commitments. It can be really stressful when you finally get official entry into the race with only a few weeks or even days to wrap your brain around race preparation and travel plans, not to mention those last-minute cramming sessions of speed or hill work.

But the dreaded waitlist is where I find myself today. To celebrate our upcoming 20th wedding anniversary, we decided to do something wild –  the Tor Des Geants 336km race in Italy.

Bruce during the TDG 2012. Can you believe the beauty?!

Bruce during the TDG 2012.
Can you believe the beauty?!

No doubt where the trail is! Be prepared for all kinds of weather and unforgiving terrain!

No doubt where the trail is! Be prepared for all kinds of weather and unforgiving terrain!

Six weeks ago, B and I set the alarm clock for 2:45am in order to register. When the registration officially opened at 3:00am we were sitting side-by-side with two computers, trying to acquire two places in this September event, hitting the refresh button over and over. Six minutes later, B cried out “Yes!” as he had successfully attained the pre-registration form. Next he completed the secure banking page and, once that information was loaded, he was IN! Beside him, I continued to reload the page and had success with getting to the pre-registration form but, after filling it out, the next page simply would not load. I could not get to the secure banking page. For 10 minutes, the loading wheel spun and spun, indicating heavy traffic on the banking site I guess. I opened new browser pages and tried to restart my registration but had no luck. Beside me, B completed his application and began trying to get mine. Switching to Firefox, rather than Chrome, seemed to do the trick. Soon enough, all of my information and bank transaction was complete.

We sat back and looked at the list of pre-registrants. The race would accept 660 racers. B was #36. I was #1318. His transaction went through at 3:06am; mine at 3:24am. It took only 9 minutes for this epic race to reach 660 racers and it looked like I was SOL.

But hope springs eternal for the waitlisted runner. This race has all sorts of crazy and unique rules on accepting entrants – which you can read about on the website – but the short version is that they accepted the first 8 Canadian pre-registrants, and I am the ninth Canadian. If a Canadian entrant withdraws or fails to get payment, medical info or waivers in on time, their entry will roll down to the next Canadian – ME!

So here I sit, not training, but instead visiting the race website a little too often, watching to see if the accepted runners make the payment deadline today.

Stay Tuned!