2 Utah men sue NYC Marathon over lottery that picks runners

Runners travel south on 5th Avenue during the 2015 New York City Marathon. Karsten Moran / The New York Times

NEW YORK (AP) — Two Utah men filed a lawsuit Thursday against the organizers of the wildly popular New York City Marathon, saying the lottery system used to pick entrants for it violates state law.

The lawsuit was filed on behalf of Charles Konopa and Matthew Clark in federal court in Manhattan. It seeks more than $10 million in damages, double the amount they estimate the New York Road Runners club took in between 2010 and 2015 in nonrefundable fees from anyone looking to take part in its race.

Many more people want to run in the annual marathon than there are spots. The New York Road Runners club conducts a lottery to determine who gets an entry and accepts some people who have raised a certain amount of money for specific charities. More than 80 percent of those people in the lottery end up not getting slots. Anyone who registers for the lottery must pay a nonrefundable $11 fee, and there are registration fees for those who get running spots. The organizers refer to the $11 as a processing fee.

Konopa entered the lottery in 2014 but didn’t get a spot. Clark entered in 2011 and 2015 and didn’t get a spot either year.

The lawsuit said New York state’s constitution prohibits lotteries from being run by anyone other than the state.

Road Runners spokesman Chris Weiller said the entry process for the marathon is compliant with the law.

‘‘The $11 processing fee, which supports our mission as a not-for-profit community-based running organization, is charged to everyone who registers for the marathon regardless of whether they participate in the drawing or receive a guaranteed entry,’’ he said.


Kenya’s Stanley Biwott and Mary Keitany swept the titles at last year’s New York City Marathon, run on Nov. 1. Biwott won his first major marathon title after placing second in London the year before. Keitany became the first woman to repeat since Paula Radcliffe in 2008.

Organizers estimated more than 50,000 runners would finish the 45th running of the NYC Marathon, completing the 26.2 miles through the city’s five boroughs.

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