Lottery for the Hardrock closed last weekend and the lottery is coming up next week, so we (=anyone in the hat I guess) start wondering what our odds of getting in are. Slim as always of course.
The lottery is a competitive system. I you get in, someone else can’t. And vice versa. The list of entrants is available. Of course that doesn’t tell us the number of tickets, but we can get some rough estimates. I assume that the number of finishes stated in that list is correct.
For the 2015 edition, the criteria for getting in got harder. Most notably, the two most popular US 100 milers (WS and Leadville) are no longer qualifiers. This probably reduces the number of potential applicants (especially the domestic ones) seriously. But the list shows a total of 1367 applicants (the facebook page of the race states 1368, but I will work with 1367). Which is more or less the same number as previous years. The rising popularity of trail running probably cancels out the moderating effect of the stricter criteria. Those 1367 runners are, distributed over three groups, competing for 152 places.
The first group to consider are the “Veterans”. Those are people with at least 5 finishes. There are 40 people on that list. Last year’s winner Darcy Piceu is guaranteed a place. The other 39 compete for 34 spots. The poor five remaining runners get on the waitlist and will probably all get in. No problem for them. Unfortunately, I’m not in this group.
Looking at the rest, there are 1174 runners with no finishes and 153 runners with one to four finishes. The second group is the group “Never started”. Those are all among the 1174 with no finishes, but some of those 1174 have started, but never finished. I guess that about 1100 runners will be in the “Never started” group. Those are competing for 42 spots. Yes, you read it correctly. Only 42 spots for about 1100 runners. That is why it is so hard to get in the Hardrock. What are the chances for those people to get in? It is impossible to tell without knowing the distribution of the number of tickets, but we can make some guestimates. First assumption: the average number of tickets is two. No idea if it is true, but it doesn’t sound unreasonable. That gives about 2000 tickets in the hat. Ignoring that people have multiple tickets (which is fine for those with a limited number of tickets) we find that someone with one ticket has about 2% chance of being drawn. Yes, if you apply for the first time you have about 2% chance of getting in. That is the hard reality of Hardrock. People with only a couple of tickets can multiply that chance by the number of tickets they have. For the ones holding a lot of tickets, I don’t dare making any predictions without the distribution of the tickets.
There happen to be some runners from the Benelux in this group: 2 from Belgium, 1 from Luxembourg and 7 from the Netherlands. Assuming that each of them has one ticket (I have no idea if that is the case), there would be an 18% chance that at least one of them gets in. (This number is probably totally wrong because I am making really a lot of assumptions by now.) If one or more of those hold more tickets, this person’s chances would of course increase dramatically.
Fortunately, I am not in this group.
The last group is everyone else. In this group, there are certainly those with one to four finishes. In the list, I find 153 runners like that. Adding the ones with at least one start but no finish will push this number probably slightly above 200. Those 200 are competing for 70 spots. Last year’s winner Kilian Jornet has his spot guaranteed, so the leaves 69 spots for about 200 runners. It is a bit harder to see what the chances for those runners are, but from the simulations that I did two years ago, I know that someone like me with two tickets has about 30% chance of getting in. That still makes it one of the races where I have the lowest chance of getting in. Of course I know that previous failures do not improve your chances for success, but after four subsequent failures, I hope my time has come to be on the start list again.
When a detailed distribution of the number of tickets becomes available, I will calculate the precise chances.