- The Washington Times - Sunday, April 27, 2008

It’s late April, and at least two major races already are filled.

Early last week, the 31st Chicago Marathon and the 24th Army Ten-Miler sold out; Chicago with 45,000 entries and the Army with 26,000 entries. The Army Ten-Miler is on Oct. 12, and the Chicago race is a week later.

Next up is the 33rd Marine Corps Marathon and its 30,000 limit. Online registration begins Wednesday at noon, and there is also a registration rally at Pentagon Row on Tuesday. Registration for the Oct. 26 race has been open to only the military until this week.

New York City has been accepting applications for its lottery since Feb. 25. Its 39th marathon is Nov. 2.

With a record number of more than 103,000 people applying last year, this race is nearly as hard to get into as Harvard. More than 50,000 winners will be selected June 1.

It has become common for the large races to quickly fill up.

But there is a problem with signing up for a race in April that is not run until October. There was a time runners could sign up for the Marine Corps Marathon the day of the race. Runners knew they were fit and healthy enough to complete the 26.2 miles.

With online registration replacing data input, why can’t race applications be accepted within a month or so of race day? There’s an issue with the widespread practice by race directors of jacking up their entry numbers, knowing that within six months some 20 percent of their field will be injured or unable to run for other reasons.

It forces people to commit long before they start training for an event or are even sure they will show up on race day. Then we have to provide some crazy exchange system for those who signed up but cannot run to “legally” transfer their race numbers to somebody who did not sign up but can run.

Army’s transfer period starts May 15 and goes until Aug. 8. People can post on the Army Ten-Miler bulletin board if they have a registration they wish to transfer or if they are looking for a registration.

Last year, according to race officials, they had 1,200 transfers. Maybe there will some enterprising person to set up a Web site for exchanges for all major races, like Do It Sports’ online application process.

What’s a Zooma? — It’s a new series of races catering to women. The brainchild of former corporate lawyer Brae Blackley, ZOOMA Women’s Race Series is a new concept of half-marathon and 10K distances designed to inspire women to lead healthy lives with more perks and bigger parties.

The inaugural event in Annapolis is June 1.

“Things so far are really great,” said Andrea Meier, a corporate public relations specialist in the District who is a volunteer on the project. “So far this week, we have 1,200 runners in our inaugural race.”

The second event is Nov. 16 in Atlanta.

“Over the next three years, we will have six events total — Denver and Austin in 2009, then Chicago and San Francisco in 2010,” Meier said. “Six races each year by then.”

She said the events will not focus less on the competitive aspect and more on celebrating the accomplishment of finishing the race. Each event will have a charity element with the theme of empowering women.

The event Web site says runners will enjoy a host of free luxuries, including an unprecedented race day experience and a unique After-Party Expo complete with shopping, mini spa treatments, wine tastings, free lunch and live music.

Meier said men are welcome to participate, too.

So what is a Zooma?

“Brae came up with it, like it says on our Web site, ‘You zoom to work. Your zoom around town. You zoom through life. But can you zooma?’ ” Meier explained.

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