Two Oceans Half Marathon entry problems


There’s no denying that many runners experienced entry problems today, and we are truly sorry that a day everyone had looked forward to, became one of frustration for many.

While we ultimately reached the 5 500 entry limit for running club members, many runners were left disappointed due to a number of factors.

System Problems:

The original issues experienced during the Ultra Marathon entries were resolved, as were the technical problems experienced last week when Blue Number Club entries opened.

Unfortunately, many of the technical difficulties we experienced were out of our control.

One of the biggest issues was that our entry system’s dialogue with bankSERV (the entity that communicates with all South Africans for 3D Secure Verification) timed out for many runners, which means that their credit cards were either declined or their One Time Pins (OTP) rejected. Runners also experienced timeouts while attempting to pay, which placed them at the back of the entry queue.

In some cases, runners’ payments are showing up as “Pending”. We are investigating each one of those instances on a case-by-case basis and will communicate with the affected runners directly.

In addition, one of the enhancements that we added to the entry system – a bulk payment facility that running clubs could use to assist those runners who don’t have a credit card – generated a number of errors, despite extensive testing in the past few weeks. To resolve this, the system was switched off and aside from the banking issues experienced, entries resumed normally.

Unprepared Runners:

Many runners tried to access the system despite not being club members. These queries were resolved on a case-by-case basis and these runners were advised to access the system on 14 November 2015.

Despite extensive communications on various platforms, many runners who experienced issues didn’t update their profiles beforehand, causing additional pressure on the system. These runners were also trying to enter for different people, which placed them back in the queue and added to their frustration.

The Online Queue:

After successful implementation in 2014, we once again utilised the Queue-IT online queueing system to streamline access into the entry system.

In short, the queueing system generates a ticket for every person who enters the queue. Entrants are then released into the entry system the moment they reach the front of the queue.

The big benefit of the queueing system is that we are not only able to control how many entrants exit the queue and access the entry system (thereby slowing things down when we experience technical issues like today); we can also pause the system while fixing bugs without entrants losing their place in the queue.

The “Number of Entrants” displayed was deceiving, however, as many runners entered the queue on a variety of devices – in some reported cases, a single athlete would access the system on a number of laptops, phones or tablets, as well as on different browser tabs. This means that the “Number of People Ahead” wasn’t necessarily reflective of unique entrants.

Therefore, a person who appeared to be behind 11 000 people in the queue, was in fact much closer to the front.

During the course of this morning, we made the decision to pause the queue. At that point most runners were experiencing severe delays and payment rejection issues, and we paused the queue to prevent more runners from experiencing the same issues.

Runners who remained in the queue at the time didn’t lose their place (unless they refreshed their page or physically exited the queue).

Unfortunately, the runners who were already in the entry system (and therefore no longer in the queue) were placed back in the queue when we restarted the system as an emergency measure.

Runners who believed that they were kicked out of the queue were actually kicked out of the entry system, as was evident from the many screenshots sent to us by runners affected by this.

What Now?

Despite all the issues experienced, we still met our 5 500 Club Runner entry quota for the day.

All queries were and are still being handled on a case-by-case basis via email, telephone and social media. Thank you for your patience while we work through each and every comment and query.

Those runners whose payments remained declined and those who missed out on entering completely will have the opportunity to finalise their entry on Saturday, 14 November from 10am.

As a team we are not only facing the reality of having disappointed runners who are trying to enter an event where the demand far exceeds the supply; we are also legally obliged to adhere to the anti-fraud measures put in place by South African banks (hence the credit card verification and OTP process).

Thank you for your patience today. We know it was a frustrating time for many of you, and especially disappointing for those who could not get an entry after waiting for hours.

Please know that we are looking into the matter, and are – through working closely with the banks and payment gateways – considering all practical options to make for a better experience on Saturday.