Enabling a Waiting List

Modified on 20 January

Waiting List

RunSignup allows race directors to easily set up a waiting list or lottery for a race that fills up.  Additional spots can be opened for runners on the waiting list.

Wait lists are very valuable.  Once a race fills up, allowing runners to put themselves on a Wait List enables the race director to do several things, like:

  • Potentially giving those runners preference next year.
  • Including those runners on next year’s race promotion emails.
  • Allowing registered runners to get a refund and people from the waiting list to take their spots (making everyone happy and reducing the impact of bandits and non-authoried bib exchange)

RunSignup offers a number of capabilities with our Wait List:

  • See reports on the waiting list.
  • Auto-enable waiting list entries to be invited to replace runners who have asked for a Refund.
  • Select either First In-First Out, or Lottery basis for selecting people from the Waiting List.
  • Open X number of entries to the Waiting List.  For example you decide your race can handle another 500 entries, this will automatically send emails to the 500 chosen and invite them to complete their registrations.
  • Allow a runner to reserve X spots on the Waiting list.  For example if a runner only wants to sign up with their family of 4, you can allow that and the family of 4 only gets invited if there are 4 slots open.
  • Allow X days for a Wait List Entry to respond to the email and complete their registration.  For example after 2 days, the entry is no longer valid and an email goes to the next person on the Wait List.

Waiting List Setup

In order to set up the waiting list for an event, you must first set the registration cap on the event.  This can be done by clicking on the link for the Participant Caps page, or by going to Race > Registration > Participant Caps.

NOTE: For more information on Participant Cap set up, you can view the tutorial here: https://help.runsignup.com/support/solutions/articles/17000062845-customize-participant-caps

IMPORTANT: We recommend that you DO NOT raise your Participant Caps AFTER the waiting list is already in effect.  Instead, you should use the field for Number of Additional Slots to Open for Registrations on the Waiting List, which will be explained in more detail below.

Once you have your Participant Caps set up for an event, you can set up a waiting list for that event by going to Participants > Waitlist > Waitlist Setup.


In order to turn on a waiting list for an event, check off the box for Enable Waiting List or Lottery for the event that you would like to set up the waiting list for.

Next, you will need to select the Waiting List Type.  This can be either First-Come First-Serve or Lottery.

First-Come First Serve: This option will create a waiting list that is based on who signed up for the waiting list earliest.  Therefore, when registration opens up, people will be removed from the waiting list, and invited to register, in the same order that they joined the waiting list.

Lottery: This option will allow your potential registrants to place their name into a lottery.  As they sign up for the lottery, a number will be randomly generated and applied to their entry (they will not know this number).  Lottery entries will be sorted by their numbers, and when registration opens, people will be invited to register starting with the lowest number first.


Lottery Improvements

Other Lottery Option: Lottery with Delayed Credit Card Payment

Entry Settings

Using the Waiting List Opens date and time entry fields, you can set when a user will be allowed to join the waiting list or lottery.

You also have the option to set when the waiting list or lottery will close, by filling out the Waiting List Closes date and time entry fields.

The field for Maximum Number of Registrants on the Waiting List for a Single User let's you decide how many registrants one user can add to the waiting list.  For instance, if you set this number to "10", then a user can only add up to 10 registrants on the waiting list.

NOTE: This is done per account, so if the number is set to "10" and someone wants to put 20 people on your waiting list, they could create 2 accounts under different email addresses, at split the 20 as 10 and 10 between the accounts.

Selection Settings

In the Selection Settings section, you will need to answer the question of When should users be selected from the waiting list? by using the date and time entry fields.  If this is a lottery, then this is when the users will be selected.

The Registration Deadline dropdown allows you to set how long a selected entry will have to complete their registration, once they are selected.

This can be set to 12 Hours, 1 Day, 2 Days, 3 Days, 1 Week, or 2 Weeks.

NOTE: The Registration Deadline will be overridden by the registration close date for the event.  So entries will need to register prior to the registration close date, even if that means that the Registration Deadline set here was supposed to give them more time.

Next you will need to set the Number of Additional Slots to Open for Registrants on the Waiting List.  These spots will be reserved specifically for registrants on the waiting list.

By default, this field is set to "0", but you can use this field if your event has reached its designated participant cap, and you want to open up some spots to people currently on, or people who will join the waiting list.

IMPORTANT: We recommend that you DO NOT raise your Participant Caps AFTER the waiting list is already in effect.  Instead, you should use this field for Number of Additional Slots to Open for Registrations on the Waiting List.

The reason why you should open up additional slots here, instead of simply raising the Participant Caps, is because, without the following field checked for Waiting List is in effect, a raise in the Participant Caps would re-open registration to the public, possibly resulting in people who HAVE NOT been waiting on the waiting list getting to register before, or instead of, people who HAVE been waiting on the waiting list.

Finally, you will find the check box for Waiting List is in Effect.

By default, this box is left unchecked, but will be auto-selected once your event fills up and at least one person signs up for the waiting list.  However, you do have the option to turn it on manually if you would like to.

DO NOT turn off this option before reading the notices posted below.

IMPORTANT: When the waiting list is in effect, it means that registrants may not register for the race directly, but must sign up for the waiting list. The waiting list is automatically marked as in effect after an event fills up and at least one person signs up for the waiting list.

VERY IMPORTANT: We highly discourage changing a waiting list from in effect to not in effect. For fairness, it is best to leave the waiting list in effect once people have joined the list.  We suggest that you manually select participants from the waiting list if you do wish to set it as not in effect. If you do not, they will be automatically selected according to the race settings AFTER the selection start date ( the When should users be selected from the waiting list? date and time fields). For example, if the race is capped and there are no more spots, then none will be selected.


Once you have completed customizing all of the settings of your waiting list, be sure to save the changes by clicking on the button for Save.

Waiting List Management

You can learn about Waiting List Management here.