Monday, August 03, 2015

AC100: The Once And Future Race



[updated 8/17/15, 10/20/15]

Registration for the  2016 Angeles Crest 100 opened and closed in less than 10 minutes Monday, Aug 3. The 2016 Race is Aug 6-7 2016. This is a winning plan for filling a parking lot, but fatal for a legacy 100 like AC.

There's only one reason—its all about the money. Let's look at the moving parts.

The entry qualifications are laughable: finish one 50mi race before race day. Straight outta 1986. That's pure sucker bait, but I'll call it a swindle. Some ultra-bob does a flatland Care Bear 50 on carpeted trail somewhere, and he does not have a fucking clue what awaits for him in the San Gabriels. But he's "qualified".

There were 66 DNS [401k Division] in 2015
Out of 238 signups: 172 started, 98 finish, 74 dropped/missed cutoff/wtf ever. Sixty-six DNS is a spectacular achievement, out-pacing previous years averages of 25 or so. 2014 had 40. Do the math: 25-40 DNS every year means $10,000+ in pocket, no accounting etc. The roster is front loaded with multiple DNFs and barely-qualified. It's a perfect money-funnel. We're in the big leagues now.

No waiting list. And no refunds. No answers.

I'll Ask The Awkward Questions

Following the 2014 entry-scrum, I posted the following ideas:
  1. all entrants must prequalify with 2 50s or 1 100, using the list of races that WS100 had already figured out. Right now it's "get a 50 done whenever" before race day, like it was in 1986.
  2. there would be a functioning waiting list to mop up the 25-40 DNS I'd noticed over the last 2-3 years.
  3. Move the sign up date to at least 30 days after close of race. Right now it's THE DAY AFTER. Which means that every pacer, weenie n wannabe at the finish line will be jacking off to do it. Even WS100 waits 5 months before the entry-draw.
A good friend pointed out to me that THIS IS THE BUSINESS MODEL.

RD Ken Hamada was enraged that I had gone public. I didn't care. I thought an original Legacy 100 had morphed from a massive mastodon to a Pygmy elephant, a side show.

When the 2015 race sold out in 7min, the interwebs triumphed. Ken no longer had to wait for months to fill the race. And he didnt have to answer to impertinent old-timers who asked awkward questions. There are 1,000 people lining up to take your place.

There's more, I'll cover that in a bit.

Bottom Line

Ken doesn't care about you. But I'll leave you with this visual nugget from the 1995 race-brochure.
Its about Quality. Screenshot from the 1995 AC100 brochure, way before my tenure as the RaceBook editor.


2017 AC100 Update

The official 2015 AC100 Race report was posted on the Ultrarunning website 10/10/2015. It was the usual strangled syntax etc, with this cryptic paragraph at the end:
"The 2016 AC100 closed in less than 2 minutes. [ital mine] We had a very high demand for entry during the 2016 AC100 Registration, causing the servers to crash during the registration process. Due to the high demand for the race, we are making the following changes to the 2017 AC100 Registration Process: (1) 2017 AC100 Registration will be a lottery. (2) Runners will be allowed more time to enter the race, beginning at 12 PM on Monday following the end of the 2016 AC100, which will eliminate the “rush to enter” the race and overloading the servers. (3) Solo runners will have priority.

There are no further details, which is standard. But seriously. Allowed more time to enter? 12pm Monday following? ITS STILL A PANIC BUY IN. And with the hilariously low qualification standards, I expect a bumper crop of 2016 DNS, aka 401k Class. 
Well played!