The Ballot Process: 2018 Old Mutual Two Oceans Half Marathon
Following the introduction of a ballot applications and draw process for the 2017 Old Mutual Two Oceans Half Marathon, this process was repeated this year to create a more inclusive entry process to the broader community, reduce the frustrations related to the technical challenges of the previous first-come-first-served system, and to better align with international best practice as utilised by high-profile mass-participation running events around the globe.
The process was as follows:
- Blue and Yellow number holders were invited to enter and pay for their entries from 1 November 2017. There were 1 300 guaranteed entries available.
- Ballot applications could be submitted between 10am on 1 November and 5pm on 10 November. 26 000 applications were received. These applications did not guarantee anyone of an entry.
- Draw 1:
The Running Club Draw took place on 20
November. Current and paid-up Running Club members (as verified by their
Clubs) were part of this draw, and 10 000 Club runners were randomly selected
through an automated electronic draw.
- Payment Window: 20 November – 5pm on 25 November 2017. Runners who missed their payment deadline forfeited their entry.
- Draw 2: The
General Draw took place on 27 November.
The balance of available entries were randomly drawn from the application pool.
- Payment Window: 27 November – 5pm on 2 December 2017. Runners who miss their payment deadline will forfeit their entry.
Both draws were random and computer-generated, and adhered to Board Governance procedures.
Runners who were not successful in these draws will be invited to secure a charity entry from 4 December 2017, or a substitution entry from 9 January 2018. The deadline for substitutions is on 28 February 2018.
The 16 000 Half Marathon entry pool comprises:
- 1 300 entries for Blue & Yellow number holders (guaranteed entries to reward them for their loyalty to the event)
- 10 000 entries for Running Club members (Clubs are the lifeblood of running in South Africa, as they play a pivotal role in continuously promoting the sport. In addition, Clubs and their provincial bodies – like the WPA – make an important contribution to athletics development.)
- Balance of entries:
- General Draw entries
- 2 000 Charity entries: Charities use events such as the OMTOM as a fundraising platform to help support the work they do in the community. Approximately R3,5-million is raised for charity per year.
- International runners: Playing an important role in promoting Cape Town and the Western Cape to an international audience, and contributing to the massive economic impact on the City.
- Sponsors: A small number of entries are made available for sponsors of the Old Mutual Two Oceans Marathon. Without sponsorship the event will not take place, nor have a sustainable future.
- Elites & development runners: A small number of entries are made available to talented underprivileged runners who would otherwise not be able to participate and showcase their talent. These runners are recommended to us by their provincial athletics bodies. We also keep entries aside for elite runners – elites being an important drawcard for media and TV coverage (and publicity figures being important to sponsors) – who can enter and pay as soon as their race calendars are confirmed by their managers.
BALLOT APPLICATIONS: FAQs
Some runners have raised a number of concerns and questioned the fairness of the draw process.
Why do you not provide entries on a first come, first served basis?
There is a massive demand for Half Marathon entries, and these entries have sold out within a few hours in the past few years. This high demand came with much frustration, including (but not limited to):
- Technical difficulties due to the extreme pressure on the entry system, as well as bank servers and mobile carriers having to send out bank OTPs to entrants.
- Prospective entrants missing out on an entry due to the small entry window due to work or life commitments.
While we knew that the demand for entries exceeded supply, we have never had a completely accurate statistic until last year. In 2016, 25 000 ballot applications were received for the 2017 OMTOM, while we received 26 000 applications earlier this month for the 2018 OMTOM.
This process is unfair.
The draws are electronic, random and audited, and based on luck. The fairness of the process is in the eye of the beholder. Runners who receive an entry are complementary of the process while those whose names aren’t drawn are unhappy and question the validity of the process.
Some runners suggested human intervention to ensure that runners fitting a certain profile are selected. If we had to manipulate the draw process in any way, it would no longer be free and fair.
Why don’t International participants have to apply to the ballot?
International entrants play an important role in promoting the City of Cape Town and the Western Cape as an international tourism and sports tourism destination, which has a tremendous effect on the economic impact on the City itself.
International participants often bring their friends and family to Cape Town, with their participation in the OMTOM just being one of the many activities on their itinerary. Tourism plays a vital role in job creation and economic growth, and OMTOM’s economic impact on the City of Cape Town has been measured at over R672-million.
All our runners are important to us. However, the current percentage of international entrants is still small enough for us to allow direct entry. As this number grows in future, we will adjust the terms of international entries to ensure that everyone has a fair chance to enter.
Why do you allocate so many entries to charity?
Many mass-participation events across the globe allocated the majority of their entries to charity, so the reality is that our 2 000 charity entry allocation is small in comparison.
We believe in serving the communities in which we operate, and giving charitable organisations the opportunity to use our event as a fundraising platform is a great honour and one of our ways to give back.
Many runners are passionate about running (or doing any sport) for a good cause, and last year our charity partners raised over R3,5-million.
Why do you give sponsors and some athletes free entries? Surely they should go to more deserving runners – i.e. those who pay?
Our sponsors play a vital role in helping us to stage a world class event, and as such we allocate a small number of entries to our sponsors. This is the norm for big and small events across the globe.
Why can’t you organise two Half Marathons over two days, or just increase your entry limit by a few thousand?
Staging a mass-participation event like the OMTOM is a mammoth logistical task. It takes over a year to organise the event, and it includes close collaboration with the City, traffic authorities and related role-players.
Hosting two Half Marathons over two days means two mornings of road closures along Cape Town’s busiest roads, during the City’s busiest holiday time. Logistically this is a challenge at present, but we continue to explore alternative options in conjunction with the City.
In addition, the 16 000 entry limit is set by the City of Cape Town, and while we would love to increase this number we need to adhere to the rules stipulated by traffic and disaster management stakeholders. Seasoned runners will also know that the Half Marathon route is already at capacity, and that increasing this limit would be irresponsible.
We place great importance on runner safety and comfort, and we want all our runners – from elites to back-markers – to have a great experience on the road. We focus on staging a quality event, and increasing the numbers will not facilitate this.
Some runners only enter so that they can sell their entries for thousands of Rands. What are you going to do about that?
The OMTOM Half Marathon is oversubscribed. The demand is much higher than the supply. And unfortunately, that means that there are unscrupulous individuals who will abuse this by scalping entries – much like concert tickets.
This practice ONLY survives because runners buy these entries, thereby perpetuating the cycle.
We keep an eye on 3rd party reseller sites and request that the ads are removed, but our team also needs to focus on organising the event, logistics and customer care, and cannot spend 100% of their time blocking fake or overpriced entries.
Our rules are clear. A runner who needs to withdraw for any reason must release his/her entry through our substitution process, and send the corresponding entry voucher to an athlete who would like to get an entry. And if they want to recoup the original entry fee that is OK, but they may not sell their entry for a higher amount.
If runners follow the correct processes, the demand for these entries will stop.
We work hard to stamp out this practice, but runners need to take responsibility for their part in the illegal sale of entries too.