The NYC Marathon Lottery

Sabrina Wieser running the NYC Marathon

The next NYC Marathon will be here before you know it. But if you don’t have all the details ironed out just yet, relax! There’s still plenty of time to prepare for the 2020 NYC Marathon. And I’ll help you by breaking down the lottery system, as well as other methods for entering the race. 

If you’re planning on running in one of the greatest and most iconic marathons in the world, you’ll need to first qualify for the race. To qualify, you have a few choices for entry into the NYC Marathon. Read below while I outline several options to make sure that you get a ticket and find yourself at the starting line come November 1st.  

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How to get into the NYC Marathon?

In 2019 the NYC Marathon counted a record-breaking number of 53,640 finishers. According to the NYRR, they have a notoriously selective system that makes it one of the hardest marathons to get into. How can you get into the NYC Marathon? There are several ways, but let’s get the facts straight first:

What Are the Odds of Getting into the NYC Marathon?

According to several newspaper articles that I have read, the odds to get into the NYC Marathon are around 16-18 %. In 2017, for example, 98,247 runners applied for the NYC Marathon, the NYC Marathon lottery drew 16,211 (16.5%). So let’s be real, the odds aren’t too great. But you have a few more options: Let me explain! 

Ways to Gain Entry for the NYC Marathon

From January 30th, through February 13, runners can apply for entry to the NYC Marathon 2020. If your goal is to run the NYC Marathon this year, these are your options for getting into the race:

  • The NYC Marathon lottery 

As explained above, the NYC Marathon lottery is one of the hardest ways to get in and for 2020 it was the hardest lottery ever. The NYC Marathon lottery odds are about 16-18%. Here is a link to the NYC Marathon lottery, if you’d like to apply. I would still try my luck regardless of the slim margin for success. If the NYC Marathon lottery doesn’t work out though, there are always other ways to get into the race.

  • Run for Team for Kids

Running for Team for Kids is a really great way to get into the NYC Marathon. I’ve done it before and it was pretty easy to raise $2620 for a great cause. If you have a great network and supportive family and friends, you will be able to get your ticket for the NYC Marathon with Team for Kids for sure. Here’s some more info about Team for Kids and how their fundraising works.

  • Run for Another Charity Partner

Besides Team for Kids, there are several other charity partners, that will be a great opportunity to beat the NYC Marathon Lottery and get your entry for the NYC Marathon. If you want to run for charity, please read the list of the official charity partners for the NYC Marathon this year. 

  • Participate in NYRR’s 9+1 Program

If you’re local, I would always recommend doing the 9+1 program with NYRR. You have to run 9 races with NYRR that are “qualifiers” for your 9+1 program, and you have to volunteer at an NYRR event within the same year. So let’s say you want to run in 2020, you would have to do your 9+1 program in 2019. 

Now they also offer the 9+ $1K program where you have to run 9 races with NYRR. After completing these 9 races you will have to donate $1000 for youth running or community services here in NYC instead of volunteering. Check out their website for more information on this. 

  • Get an International Travel Partner for the NYC Marathon

You didn’t get into the race through the NYC Marathon lottery and you live abroad? Great, because then you still have the chance to get into the NYC Marathon with an international travel partner. A lot of my followers from Germany or other countries book their trip to the NYC Marathon with international travel partners. My favorite Travel Partner is Ali Schneider Marathonreisen from Germany

The way it works is that they charge you for the trip and your marathon bib. Additionally, there’s no need for you to stick with a travel group or anything like that. You’re completely on your own. Do some research to determine which international travel partner for the NYC Marathon is the best fit for you. 

  • Have 15+ NYC Marathons Under Your Belt

The NYC Marathon lottery won’t be needed for you if you have run 15 or more NYC Marathons in your running career. This makes you eligible to enter every time for as long as you want. 

  • Qualify Based on Time

Another way to beat the NYC Marathon lottery is to run fast. There are several NYRR races like the Fred Lebow Manhattan Half, NYC Half, Women’s Half-Marathon, Brooklyn Half, or the Staten Island Half, that could get you a ticket for the NYC Marathon depending on your gender, age and finishing time. Here is a list of the NYC Marathon qualifying times. Do you need to qualify for the NYC Marathon? No! But if you happen to be as fast as the qualifying time standards for the race, why wasting time on the NYC Marathon lottery? 

  • Be an Elite Runner

If you’re an elite runner, you will most likely receive an invitation to run the NYC Marathon. 

Good for all elite athletes, because they don’t have to deal with the NYC Marathon lottery or any other ways to get into the NYC Marathon. 

  • Claim a Deferred Entry

I have had to defer entry before. Luckily it wasn’t NYC, but the way it works is the same.

If you claim a deferred entry for the NYC Marathon, all you have to do is to pay the entry fee again and then you have your entry for the upcoming NYC Marathon.

Now you’re wondering what is the entry fee for the NYC Marathon? It is for U.S. residents (those who live in the United States or the District of Columbia) and NYRR members $255; for Non-members: $295 and for Non-U.S. residents (including Puerto Rico and other U.S. territories): $358. 

The NYC Marathon Lottery: My conclusion

As you can see, there are so many ways to get into the NYC Marathon. In 2019 NYRR even offered to run a virtual 26.2 miles race to guarantee your entry in 2020. I haven’t seen anything about this for 2020 yet, but I will keep you updated.

All roads lead to Rome, right? Same with the NYC Marathon – good luck in finding your own way to the NYC Marathon.