Sunday, January 6, 2008

Ultra and cyber sprinting

Like many, rushing for online registration is the part I like the least in ultra running. And I realize my sentiment, or resentment, must be nothing compared to what the original ultra runners must experience and go through. They were used to show up the morning of the event and get in. Later, races filled-up a couple of weeks before the event, then, for the most mythical, a couple of months before. That's when I started hearing about ultra. It became like the populous marathons; damnation, what happened to "our sport", they were saying during our training runs?!

In December, it was Way Too Cool. On a Sunday morning, 8am Pacific. Jumped on the car, direction the office, instead of getting out for a run. Arrive at the office at 7:50 to find out that I forgot my badge. Rushing back to home, hopefully not far. Switching the computer on, right at 7:59. Hey, the registration is already open, what's going on? I had tried my account login the night before, so I was quickly set and registered in five or six clicks. Phew...

Yesterday, I had a nice 15-mile run with our Midpeninsula Saturday morning group in Woodside (Wunderlich Park, Ed, John, David, Lina). Ed was sharing his frustration about not being able to get in Way Too Cool (despite the 400 entries!). He said that this time, no question, he will go to his office to get the fastest connection and all the account information ready. He also mentioned that he suspected Way Too Cool registration opened before 8 am that day.
This morning, it was Miwok. Same day, same time. This time I didn't forget my badge, so here I am at my desk, with the best connection, by 7:50am. Just checking on the event, what is my surprise to see the registration is already open. Quick, my login name and password! Trying one. Fail. A second one. Fail. Quick, click on forgot my password. Checking for the email response in my mailbox. Ok, got in. What, asking for another identification by email?Damned, the system says this account has already been confirmed, and would not let me in. Trying with another old account (I have 3 already created). Phew, in, but with old information so I have to retype everything. 8:02, registration confirmed, what a sweat... And $7.50 of processing fee, on top of the $100, quite a nice tip isn't it? Didn't even see the waitress... Not bad for a beta...
OK, I'm not denying that Active.com has brought a lot to the sport and helped increasing awareness for fitness, as well as streamlining the registration process for the race directors. But that leaves an aftertaste of monopoly, à la Google. Not you?

Oh, by the way, this isn't specific to the US, Active.com is also taking over the sport business in Europe!

Better have a good, fast and reliable connection to go farther and faster these days... And be current with big brother, Active.com...

8 comments:

Jill said...

I signed up on time for Miwok today and knew in advance not to use any previous Active.com account I've previously set up (at least a dozen, they always seem to fail to reconize my log-in & email like you). Today I knew was not time to screw around with the Active account system. So I signed up as a guest not a registered Active person and got through their system in less than 1 minute. Congrats to all who got in on time.

Anonymous said...

un peu subtil pour moi..
Bises
Maman

Jean Pommier said...

Jill et al,

Figured out the trick is to use the email address you associated with your Active.com account, not the login name asked upon registration. Assuming you remember which address you used then, if you have several, like me.

Anyway, glad to have made it through WTC and Miwok registrations, and sorry for the ones who have not.

Jean.

Paul Charteris said...

Jean

I gave up. After 25 minutes on Sunday morning trying to battle the active.com registration I simply quit. Even though I am sure Miwok would be a nice race, I figured it was just not worth the hassle.

Greg said...

Heh, I registered the morning that the Disney Marathon-and-a-Half opened -- 1 year before the race! I can imagine a business opportunity: a 'bot that automatically registers you for an Active race the very moment that the race is open for registration. A bit like the sniping sites for ebay...

Happy trails -- G.

Mark Tanaka (Ultrailnakaman) said...

I'm with you, bro. I hope Tia (Boddington), Greg (Soderlund) and all the other RDs decide to drop them.

Donald said...

Congrats on getting in - and maybe I'll see you there (although only at the start line!) I was wondering if I should sign up for an Active account, but now I won't bother.

Have fun at Miwok!

Mark GIlligan said...

Glad to hear you made it into Miwok, i'll see you there. Frustrated at the seemingly high cost per transaction charged at active, I did a bit of research to see if building my own Active.com could be viable. The end result, $7 on a $100 transaction get's eaten up quickly by all the middlemen and active nets very little. To prevent sticker shock, RD's should include the fee in the registration. Afterall, you don't see "aid station food" broken out on it's own line item.