How to Get into the 2021 NYC Marathon

Lottery for the NYC Marathon 2020

Guess what? The NYC Marathon turns 50 years old next year! The upcoming 2021 NYC Marathon will be on November 7, 2021. And to help get you started before the drawing application window closes, here is how you can participate in the 50th anniversary of the largest marathon in the world. Also, get an realistic opinion on the odds of entering the NYC Marathon in 2021.

Read below and learn the following things about the 2021 NYC Marathon registration: 

  • How to enter through the non-guaranteed lottery drawing
  • Entry due to the cancellation of the NYC Marathon in 2020
  • Chances of gaining non-guaranteed entry
  • Guaranteed entry through a charity
  • Time qualification standards
  • The 15-Plus and 9+1 Programs

Also, if you haven’t already, make sure to review my route analysis of the NYC Marathon.

How to Enter the 2021 NYC Marathon Through Lottery

I have written about getting into the NYC Marathon through the marathon lottery system before, but I will sum up the particulars here for your convenience. 

The window for registering for the draft starts normally from around January 30, 2021, through February 13, 2021. And after the application process has closed, there is a 2-week waiting period while they process a large number of applications. Afterward, on February 26th, NYRR announced those who gained entry this year.

You can click here on the TCS New York City Marathon website and follow the guidelines they have for signing up. It’s as easy as adding your name into the system, crossing your fingers, and waiting for February 26th. You provide your billing information, and if you’re chosen, you pay the entry fee. The fee itself is $255 for NYRR members, $295 for Non-Members, and $358 for Non-U.S. residents. 

Chances of Getting in Via Lottery

To get into the marathon via the lottery requires some luck. As I have stated before, there was about a 17%-18% chance to get a spot through the lottery a couple of years ago. That chance has shrunk considerably with only 10,500 runners accepted through non-guaranteed entry (the lottery) in the 2019 NYC Marathon. That was out of close to 117,000 total lottery entrants. For the 2021 NYC Marathon, it may be even harder since the 2020 NYC Marathon was canceled and many runners picked the option to run the race the following year (2021).

This low success rate (11%-12%) is because the race is so popular and iconic. After all, it is the largest marathon in the world, and the numbers keep growing. 

With that being said, there’s nothing to lose if you do decide to try your luck with the lottery. You just never know! But if not, there’s a ton of great charities you can run and raise money for to gain guaranteed entry. 

Guaranteed Entry Through Charities

As is the case for most marathons, you can run for great charities and gain guaranteed entry to the race. One of the most common charities to run for is the Team for Kids program. You can sign up for Team for Kids now if you are not qualifying for time or any of the other guaranteed entry methods available. The other charities – there are over 400 of them – will open in the springtime 2021. 

For a whole list of all available charities – broken down into gold, silver, and bronze levels – check out the official list of NYC Marathon charities. And be sure to contact an official charity partner when you know for sure that’s the option you want.

You can also volunteer as a way to gain guaranteed entry through the NYRR 9+1 program, which I will talk about below.

How do you qualify for the New York Marathon 2021?

The window is January 1 through December 31st, 2020 – you can qualify by running time if you finish specific races in the times given. Unfortunately, this year there haven’t been many races where you could qualify due to many race cancellations but this would usually be a realistic option to qualify for the New York Marathon in 2021. What time do you need to qualify for New York Marathon?

As is customary, the times are broken down into age group categories. The younger your age, the faster your completion times will need to be. For men ages 18-34 you will need to complete a marathon in 2:53:00 or faster. For women of the same age, you will need to complete one in 3:13:00 or faster. Be sure to check out the full list for every age group requirement.

Another option is “Completed 15-Plus”. Runners who finish their 15th New York City Marathon are eligible for guaranteed entry in future years. The application period is open from January 30, 2020, through February 13, 2020.

Volunteering and the 9+1 Program 

The New York Road Runners (NYRR) has a program in place called the 9+1 program that grants you guaranteed entry if you volunteer for one NYRR-sponsored event before December 31, 2020, and also complete 9 qualifying races by that same cutoff time. This will mean you get a spot in the 2021 NYC Marathon. You must also be an NYRR member to qualify for the 9+1 program. 

Note that if you are registered for qualifying races that are canceled and choose the TCS New York City Marathon 9+1 qualifier credit option as their race cancellation resolution this will go towards your 9+1 for 2021 entry as well.

If you are registered to volunteer at a 9+1 qualifier event that is canceled  you will receive a +1 volunteer credit.

By July 15, NYRR will share information about other ways runners can complete the 9+1 program in 2020 for guaranteed non-complimentary entry to the 2021 TCS New York City Marathon.

You could run any mixture of 5Ks, 10Ks, half-marathons, and the like, as long as they fall within the range of qualifying races officially recognized by the NYRR organization.

Guaranteed complimentary entry for the 2021 Marathon

The New York Marathon was canceled for 2020 which is why registered runners had the option to receive a guaranteed complimentary entry for the 2021 Marathon. So in case you are registered for the New York Marathon in 2020, you have the option to use your spot for the 2021 NYC Marathon.

What are the odds of getting into the NYC Marathon?

But let’s be realistic, is there an actual chance right now to enter the 2021 NYC Marathon? If you were signed up for the 2020 NYC Marathon and decided to defer the race to next year, the year after, or even the year after that, you will automatically enter the drawing for 2021. As of now, it is not sure yet, if and how long-distance racing will come back next year. The notriously selective system made it hard to enter the NYC Marathon already.

The odds of getting into the NYC Marathon for the upcoming years may be significantly higher due to the cancellation in 2020.

Good Luck at the Race!

If you are curious about various tips for running the NYC Marathon, please be sure to read my guide. Have fun and enjoy the experience!s