This past spring, I had a short list of possible fall marathons to run. All of them were smaller marathons that typically didn't sell out early, so I thought I had plenty of time to make a decision. When I finished debating the pros and cons and was ready to bite the bullet and register online, I was shocked to find a big "Registration Closed" notice on the sign-up page. I started panicking and quickly went to the registration page for my second choice, only to discover it too was sold out! I finally had to settle for choice #3, but I was really kicking myself for not realizing I had to register nine months ahead of time for a marathon.
Wait -- register nine months ahead of time?! What happened to the days when you could sign up for a big city marathon a couple of weeks, even days, before the race? Nowadays, if you want to run a popular (or even semi-popular) race, you basically need to sign up for it way before you have to start training or before you'll know if you'll have a major conflict (wedding, work event, etc.) that will prevent you from running it.
I've learned my lesson and now know to sign up for a race the day registration opens (I'll be setting a reminder in my phone for my next marathon), regardless of how long I think it may take to sell out. Check out some tips on how to avoid getting shut out of races and please share your own advice and experiences in the comment section below.