Quite surprisingly, everyone who tried to enter one of the UTMB races this year (UTMB1, CCC2, TDS3 or PTL4) got in! This is going against all the trends.

Quick recap on the UTMB registrations story:
In 2003 and 2004, respectively 700 and 1400 runners entered the race.
In 2005, the 2000 runners limit was reached for the first time after 7 months. I got in at the last minute on the waiting list for my first participation.
In 2006, the organisers decided to create the CCC in order to allow more runners into the event. The registrations were sold out in only 2 weeks.
In 2007, it was decided that the runners must qualify by running a race beforehand. I was quite unhappy at the time, as I though that novice ultrarunners can complete the UTMB. Not only this qualifying race scheme seemed unfair, but it was also useless: the rush at the registrations was so intense that all 2000 tickets for the race were gone in less than 10 hours! Just after the 2007 registrations, I forecasted that registrations would take 8 minutes in 2008. I also reviewed other means of limiting entries and suggested that a draw would be more fair. I think at the time the organisers didn't quite realise that the race they created was already on the fast track to become a myth and were completely outpassed by their popularity.
In 2008, my predictions were followed as the registrations were gone in 7 minutes! A that point the organisers realised there was something wrong. Marginally, the PTL was added to the UTMB and CCC.
Thus for 2009, the organisers made drastic decisions. The TDS race was added to the event, now opened to a total of 5360 runners (UTMB: 2300, CCC: 1800, TDS: 1200, PTL: 60). The qualifying race rules were made even more restrictive. And a draw was finally organised. As a consequence of the two former changes, the draw was not actually necessary given the "relatively low" number of pre-registered runners (unallocated: UTMB: 50, CCC: 200, TDS: 600).

So what happened there? Why such a sudden change? It is certain that the qualification races scheme reduced a bit the number of runners, but is that really the only reason? Has something changed about the race or its image? Some runners express concerns about an event bringing together 5000 people on the same paths. Other think it's too expensive (personally, I think it's only to expensive for the PTL: 570EUR per team, and the only service is a guy following the race on its PC). Have we simply ran out of runners keen to run the UTMB? Many runners are only willing to participate once or twice (such as me).

What do you think?

Ultra surprising.

1UTMB: Ultra-Trail du Tour du Mont-Blanc (166km +9,400m)
2CCC: Courmayeur - Champex - Chamonix (98km +5,600m)
3TDS: Sur les Traces des Ducs de Savoie (105km +6,700m)
4PTL: La Petite Trotte à Léon (250km +18,000m)