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Wednesday, May 22, 2024 | Back issues
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Runners Stomp on NYC Marathon Lottery

MANHATTAN (CN) - Charging tens of thousands of runners a nonrefundable $11 fee for a chance to conquer the New York City Marathon is "inherently unfair," two would-be racers claim in court.

Countless runners have cursed a rejected application to enter the New York City Marathon over the course of its 45-year history.

Utah residents Charles Konopa and Matthew Clark filed a $10.5 million federal class action over it on Thursday.

Together, the men have been denied a chance to fly into New York to participate in three races between 2011 and 2015.

The winners of the lottery still have to pay between $216 and $347 for the opportunity to hoof it 26.2 miles from the foot of the Verrazano Bridge at Staten Island across all five boroughs to the finish line at Central Park.

The New York Road Runners offers the losers a range of options for guaranteed entry, including running through a charity, scoring a qualifying time in another race or participating in a set number of the club's other events.

The lawsuit does not challenge these other options, but it attacks the lottery for promoting "public health and economic problems."

"The institutions that run them receive a guaranteed windfall at the expense of thousands of individuals," the complaint states.

Of the 80,080 applicants for last year's race, only 14,326 applicants won a spot to race, Runners World reported.

The lawsuit estimates that fewer than 18 percent of lottery applicants got the green light in between 2010 and 2015.

This violates the New York state Constitution's prohibition on the "lottery or sale of lottery tickets, pool-selling, book-making, or any other kind of gambling, except lotteries operated by the state," according to the complaint.

Nancy Kaboolian, an attorney with Abbey Spanier, argues that the penalty for violations of this statute is double the cost of entry.

The lawsuit says that the small fees add up to more than $10,560,000 in damages over that six-year period.

New York Road Runners spokesman Chris Weiller said it would be "premature" to comment on the pending litigation, though he emphasized that the nonprofit "helps and inspires people through running."

He added that the organization "serves over 400,000 people of all ages and abilities annually, including free running programs and initiatives for over 200,000 students throughout New York City and across the nation."

Runners undeterred by the slim odds of winning have until Feb. 21 to apply for the next New York City Marathon.

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