There are certain races which should have a gold standard of automatic qualification and the JFK 50-mile race is one of them. Of course, this is a shrewd marketing and business plan by the JFK 50 people. The minute you put a cap on your race and make such announcements about exclusion, the knee-jerk reaction is to go and run that race. Not that the JFK 50 had a problem filling up before, but it has assured itself of filling fully and rapidly every year now. If you doubt me, look at the history of the Boston Marathon which became mostly the race it is today because of its desire to keep the running “riff-raff” out by implementing standards. It immediately doubled in size by doing so!
To save itself from complete criticism, JFK 50 will also be holding a lottery for those not fleet of foot to enter. Again, this is not a bad idea in my humble opinion. It allows a few who cannot meet the standards to see what the course is like and hopefully give their all to qualifying the next year. In fact, I would implement a rule that if you make it into the race on the lottery you cannot do so again until you have qualified for the race timewise. Nothing wrong with striving to succeed.
It is going to be interesting to see how this all plays out. In either case, if you haven’t run this race, I highly suggest signing up. They out on a very good show race there and I indeed need to get back there to improve on my 2005 running (my first 50-miler ever and last tune-up race before my 52 Marathons in 52 weekends.)