Thursday, February 17, 2011

Boston Marathon Entry Changes

This has been all the talk in the last 24 hours so I figured I better comment on it. The Boston Marathon has officially made changes to its registration process over the next two years to avoid another situation like this year. What happened this year? Well it sold out in less than 24 hours! Doesn't sound like a big problem to me, especially if I was a race director. The problem lies in the race itself. They are limited in size. If you have ever been to Hopkinton, MA you would know that it is a small town with small streets and limited facilities. 25,000 runners is already pushing the limit of this small town. They can't expand the field size any more but the number of qualified entrants continues to grow. Some runners qualify every year, and return to Boston every year becuase it really is that AWESOME a race. New York has a similar problem, over 100,000 register (even at nearly 200 bucks a pop) for the 40,000 spots. Although NY has automatic qualifying standards (tighter than Boston) they rely heavily on their lottery system. I don't think Boston wanted to go that route at all. Can you imagine, "Qualify for Boston, then well put your name in a hat and you MIGHT get in."

I discussed the qualifying standards last May in a blog post here and got a good response. I suggested cutting the qualifying times by almost 10 minutes per age group, which was probably too much to still fill their 25,000 entrants. I could see the registration filling quicker every year and knew there would be issues, not just at Boston but at other Marathons too like Twin Cities. Shoot, you even have to get in a lottery to run 100 miles at Western States. This sport is growing so quiclky. It is awesome to be a part of.

So the B.A.A. made some changes yesterday, and some have called them "aggressive." I would call them "covering all their bases." They don't want to have to do this again.

Here is the plan:
The field for Boston 2011 is already set. Too late to run this year anyway.

The registration for Boston 2012 will open this September 2011 and will be a two week rolling admission where, based on your qualifying time, you will be able to register earlier than others.

September 12, 2011 20 min., 00sec. or more below their qualifying time (based on age/gender)
September 14, 2011 10 min., 00 sec. or more below their qualifying time (based on age/gender)
September 16, 2011 5 min., 00 sec. or more below their qualifying time (based on age/gender)
Second Week
September 19, 2011 All Qualified Runners
September 23, 2011 Registration closes for qualified applicants
September 28, 2011 (appx) Qualifiers from entry during second week of registration are notified of their acceptance.

My opinion is that the Boston Marathon is supposed to be the most elite field in the World (Besides the Olympics) so why not give faster runners presidence. This means that if it fills up before they get to the ones who squeeked in, then "sorry, requalify with a faster time for next year."

The next change won't happen until the 2013 race. Actually the changes will be important for 2011 and 2012. Registration will happen in September 2012 for the 2013 race and runners will have a year before that to get their qualifying time. So you must run a qualifying time between Sept. 2011 and Sept. 2012 for Boston 2013. This is not much different than before. What will be different for 2013 is the qualifying times. They have subtracted 5 minutes from every age group and eliminated the 59 second "grace time" from the standards. If you run 3:05:01 then you are OUT!
Here are the new standards for 2013 for Men and then Women.
18-34 3hrs 05min 00sec 3hrs 35min 00sec
35-39 3hrs 10min 00sec 3hrs 40min 00sec
40-44 3hrs 15min 00sec 3hrs 45min 00sec
45-49 3hrs 25min 00sec 3hrs 55min 00sec
50-54 3hrs 30min 00sec 4hrs 00min 00sec
55-59 3hrs 40min 00sec 4hrs 10min 00sec
60-64 3hrs 55min 00sec 4hrs 25min 00sec
65-69 4hrs 10min 00sec 4hrs 40min 00sec
70-74 4hrs 25min 00sec 4hrs 55min 00sec
75-79 4hrs 40min 00sec 5hrs 10min 00sec
80 and over 4hrs 55min 00sec 5hrs 25min 00sec
*Unlike previous years, an additional 59 seconds will NOT be accepted for each age group time standard.

Also if you have run the past 10 consecutive Boston Marathons and requalified you will be able to register with the first wave.

Here is the official B.A.A. statement on the new procedures.

I think these are all good changes. They have attacked the problem form all sides. They changed the registration process, they changed the qualifying times, they even increased the entry fee which is not official yet but will be between 5 and 20 dollars more. It currently costs 130 dollars to run the Boston Marathon.

Maybe if I was a 3:10 guy I would be upset, I don't know, but I also think, like I said in my blog post in May, that runners will rise to the challenge. Currently everyone (Males 18-34) trains to run 3:10. Now they will all have to train to run under 3:05. It may take them another few years but they will make it. Runners are up for the challenge I know it. It is just a new barrier to break. Just like World Records, they are made to be broken. People train to break the world record in any event and that is why people keep getting faster and faster. Why set a limit on yourself. Keep training, be consistent, and times will continue to drop. Now there is even more incentive to train harder and run faster. Don't just squeek under the qualifying mark, try and beat it by as much as possible and you will get priority registration! Good luck to all hoping to qualify for 2013!


ecarson said...

My only concern with this is that of the registration date; it pretty much removes all fall marathons. I too found this process to be fair. What else are they to do when we are in a boom. And, I am not sure the problem will go away anytime soon. As you noted, this is a universal problem.

I too think it is great that so many people are in love with running. We are a society of overweight people. I hope this interest ans excitement promotes better living. Runners must decide what races they want to run it well in advance. Waiting to the last second no longer works.

My goal has always been to best that of Boston's QT. I am motivated. I suspect most runners are.

Karl Stutelberg said...

Actually fall marathons will now be like the start of a new season with the most recovery time between your qualifying time and your Boston race. Qualify in Chicago 2011 and you wont have to worry about qualifying for Boston 2013 and you will have almost an entire year to try and better your time to hit that early priority time! That is what I would do, run a fall marathon to qualify, and then run a spring maraton to see if I can hit that 5 or 10 minute priority time! Then you have an entire year to train for Boston after that.

Chuck said...

I am pleased to see that the Boston Marathon has once again become an elite marathon! In my opinion it had become to easy to qualify. I really like that they are giving the faster runners presidence over those that just squeek in. Now anyone that really wants to quarantee a spot will have to put in the work required to better their qualifying standard by 20 minutes or more.

Daniel said...

If I can pull a 3:10, I don't know if any spots are going to be left by the time my sign-up window opens. The changes kind of redefine what actually qualifies as a "Qualifying" time. I think they should have just gone with the 5 min drop in times for 2012, rather than phasing it in. Someone can run a great race, think they have qualified, attempt to register, and have to wait several days afterward to see whether or not their time was good enough. Pretty brutal for the folks that have to play the waiting game.