Press Release: Superior Spring and Fall Trail Races will Switch to a Lottery Registration Process.
Dear Friends of the Superior Trail Races;

After careful consideration it has been decided that the Superior “Spring” Trail Race 50KM & 25KM and Superior “Fall” Trail Race 100MI, 50MI & 26.2MI events will be migrating from a conventional “first come first serve” registration process to a “lottery” style registration process.  In this letter I will outline the circumstances leading to this decision and as the race director tell you why I believe this is the best option for the event and our runners going forward.

Back in the Spring of 2014 we were blown away when we saw the Superior “Spring” Trail Race 50KM & 25KM reach its field limit in about 7 days, the previous year it had taken 7 weeks and before that it had never reached capacity.  Later that year we saw the “Fall” races Marathon and 50 miler sell out in record time and witnessed the 100 mile race very quickly approach capacity even after increasing the number of spots allocated – a far cry from the situation in 1991 when the race was first held with less than 40 entrants.  In the Spring of 2015 we knew that the “Spring” 50KM and 25KM had the potential to sell out even quicker than the previous year, possibly filling in half the time (3 or 4 days). While we had known for some time we had an  event that people loved – just a few years prior the possibility of selling out this quickly was simply unimaginable.  In the weeks leading up to registration opening we thoroughly tested our registration system with the knowledge that we would process a high number of registrations in a short period of time.  Within minutes of opening registration our web-server crashed – the cause, over 200 people beginning the registration process nearly instantaneously with more new users coming on by the second.  As registrations started to stall out or fail all together, users were madly hitting the “refresh button”, re-initiating the registration process and checking the registered runners list (making yet more demands on our already stressed web-server). Our registration system which performed well for us for many years gave way under the load.  Eventually after a few delays we were able to get registration back up and finish out registration until the field limit was met.

While we are always thrilled to see the passion and excitement that people have for our races we were devastated to see that so many people had a negative and stressful experience while trying to register for our event – it had been reduced to a fast-finger contest for those who were able to be at the computer and ready to go the second registration opened that day.  Ultimately the field limit for 2015 “Spring Race” was met in a total of 7 hours which would have been more like 4 hours or less if we would not have had the issues described.  This experience was not unique among ultras in 2014 and 2015 and many events nation wide have had to make changes to their registration process as a result.

As race director, acting in concert with our race committee, I decided that something had to change for us as well and the result is a “lottery” for the “Spring” 50KM & 25KM and the “Fall” 100MI, 50MI and 26.2MI.  While we have personally been around long enough to remember actual race-day registration; walking up to the table, slapping down your money and pinning on a race number at some of the biggest and best events around – we are realists and know we have to change with the times to ensure fairness for all who would like to run one of our races. While it has been proven that demand is high for both the Spring and Fall versions of the Superior Trail Race there is evidence suggesting that a good majority of people who enter the lottery will get in and we would hate to see the implementation of a lottery viewed as a negative or a deterrent for people wishing to run one of our races – we encourage anyone with aspirations of running one of the races to enter the lottery.  Ultimately we feel that this change will be a net positive, will reduce the stress of signing up and will afford the greatest and most diverse range of people possible the opportunity to participate in one of our races from year to year.

In its implementation we have borrowed many of the best and most well established practices from races around the country in order to craft lottery protocol to meet the specifics of our event – complete details regarding the lottery process have been published on our website.  As a further convenience to our runners we will be using the well reputed and well established UltraSignup to host the lottery and registration process for us.  With all of that said, at the end of the day we are only human and realize that in time there may be a need for further changes or improvements in this process and will work to identify those needs as they arise and will do what is necessary to implement changes or fixes in order to fine tune the process.

We thank you for your continuing support of the Superior Trail Race(s) – these very special events held on the Superior Hiking Trail on the shore of Lake Superior, the greatest fresh-water lake in the world.

Compete details regarding Lottery Registration / Application Information and Procedures can be found HERE


John Storkamp
Race Director
Superior Trail Races