Posted by: David Stewart | February 22, 2011

New Boston Marathon qualifying times

In 2009, the Boston Marathon filled up in only three weeks, faster than ever. Last year, it filled up in only 8 hours. This is amazing, because other than the Olympics, Boston is probably the hardest marathon race to qualify for, with very high standards.

So if you were not actually online getting yourself signed up on that first day, you were basically out of luck, no matter how fast you ran to qualify.

How could the Boston Athletic Association fix this problem and not further upset people?

They came up with a pretty elegant solution, which you can find outlined in their official statement. A blogger on the Oregonian’s running blog pretty much agrees with me that BAA got it right.  Here in a nutshell are the new rules:

  • For 2012, the qualifying times remain the same <whew> but only the fastest runners can register <uh oh>
  • People who beat their qualifying time by at least 20 minutes get first crack at registering (a two day head start)
  • Then people who beat their qualifying time by 10 minutes can register
  • Then people who beat their qualifying time by 5 minutes can register
  • Finally, if there are any slots left, those who just made their qualifying time can register.
  • And in 2013, all qualifying times get tougher by 5 minutes

Wow – if they wanted the highest quality and fittest runners in their race, regardless of age, this is probably the best way to achieve it, and doesn’t invalidate the effort of those who have already qualified for the 2012 race.

That said, it puts my own training plans in question. I am running the 2011 race only because I qualified at the end of 2009 and got myself into that 8 hour window. After I finish the race on April 18, do I try to shoot for the tougher standard? It seems quite achievable, but is it what I want to do with my training? Or should I try a totally different goal, like running the 56 mile Comrades Marathon in South Africa?

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