Thursday, May 26, 2016

Racing Against the Metro

The Army Ten-Miler always sells out in a few hours.
Except when it doesn't.
This year it didn't.

As I write this, registration has been open for 36 hours and there are more than 5,000 spots left.

Read on to find out what happened...

Project SafeTrack

The DC metro system is a mess. A serious safety mess. Things have gotten so bad that metro is launching the "SafeTrack" plan:
SafeTrack is a massive, comprehensive, holistic effort to address safety recommendations and rehabilitate Metrorail system on accelerated basis...3 years worth of work accelerated into approximately 1 year.

Moratorium on Extended Hours

What does this have to do with the Army Ten-Miler? Part of the plan includes this unclear statement:
MORATORIUM ON EXTENDED HOURS: Avoid deferring/rescheduling maintenance by placing a one-year moratorium on new requests for early openings or late closings. 

Metro traditionally opens early for several big races in the DC area:
  • Cherry Blossom Ten Mile Run
  • Rock 'n' Roll Marathon
  • Race for the Cure
  • Marine Corps Marathon
  • Navy-Air Force Half Marathon
  • Army Ten-Miler

Logistically it is the best way to get all of the runners, volunteers, and spectators into the city.

Is ATM Exempt?

So this begs the question...what qualifies as a "new" request? Are these races considered standing requests that will be honored by the metro system, or does every future race count as a new request? We don't know.
updated: RunWashington reports that metro has denied these races' requests for early opening. (source)
Clearly people are spooked by the strong likelihood that metro won't be open early to help get 35,000 runners, and the volunteers, and the spectators, all into the city for the Army Ten-Miler. So spooked that they aren't registering.

Are You the Gambling Type?

Personally, I'm gambling that there will be an exception and the metro will open early, and I registered for the race. But I did reserve a room in the hotel block as an insurance policy in case it doesn't. We'll see what happens...


  1. I thought about not registering over this for about 5 seconds, but since we live close enough for my husb to drop me off I signed up again!

    1. Yay! Now that makes perfect sense. You really have the perfect race transportation :)

  2. I think the more likely explanation is that because of a scheduling conflict, the Association of the U.S. Army's annual meeting is being held BEFORE the race. In years past, the annual meeting started the day AFTER the race. The annual meeting draws more than 25,000 people from around the world. Thousands arrive early to run, and then stay for the meeting. (AUSA is a major sponsor of the Army Ten-Miler.) Still a great race!

    1. Thank you for the insider perspective! That explanation makes a lot of sense.