Boston Marathon — Times are changing!

If you haven’t heard…it’s now going to be a lot harder to qualify for the Boston Marathon. Here’s an article from Runner’s World that explains it in detail…

The Boston Marathon, the holy grail race for serious distance runners, has become even harder to get into. Race organizers announced that the qualifying standards for the 2020 race will be 5 minutes faster for every age group.

For the sixth year in a row, the race turned away applicants who had met their qualifying time. In order to enter the 2019 race, which will be held on April 15, runners had to be at least 4 minutes, and 52 seconds faster than their qualifying standard, Boston Athletic Association (BAA) officials said on Thursday.

Runners were learning of their registration status for the 2019 race by email.

The field for Boston is capped at 30,000. More than 80 percent of those are time qualifiers, and the time required varies based on a runner’s age and gender. The rest of the field gains entry by running for charities or through a different connection to the race.

Registration for Boston happens over a two-week period, with fastest runners able to register during the first week, which was September 10 through 15. Runners who bettered their qualifying standard by more than 20 minutes had the first crack at registration, followed by those who were 10 minutes faster, followed by those who were 5 minutes faster. The BAA has used the rolling registration system since 2012.

If space remains in the field—and it did this year—registration would continue that following Monday for all runners who had met their time standard. Some who made last-minute qualifying attempts at marathons on September 15 and 16 were able to register with times earned at those races.

Every year, the BAA evaluates registration data and the appropriateness of qualifying standards, the officials say. The times were last tightened for the 2013 race.

“We have adjusted the qualifying standards for the 2020 Boston Marathon, as the number of marathoners who have submitted applications to run the Boston Marathon has increased significantly during the most recent two registration years,” said Tom Grilk, BAA chief executive officer, in a press release. “We forecast the interest in running Boston as continuing. We know that the running community pays close attention to our qualifying times for their age group because they are important factors in their training, racing and race selection. As such, for the 2020 Boston Marathon, adjustments to all age group qualifying standards will be five minutes (5:00) faster than previous standards.”

The qualifier breakdown for the 2019 race is:

  • 5,256 qualifiers who were 20:00 or more under their standard.
  • 8,620 qualifiers who were 10:00 or more under their standard.
  • 8,545 qualifiers who were 5:00 or more under their standard.
  • 220 qualifiers who were 4:52–4:59 under their standard.
  • 433 qualifiers with an active streak of at least 10 years.

For the 2018 race, the cutoff time was 3:23, and 5,062 runners were denied entry. That time jumped more than a minute from what was needed for the 2017 race: a time 2:09 faster than the qualifying standard, when 2,957 runners were turned away. The last year that all qualifiers were able to register was 2013.

Boston Marathon Cutoff Times By Year: 2013-2019


Each year, as the registration period opens and closes, runners speculate about where the cutoff time will land, and those who don’t make it commiserate on social media with others who were denied entry. Ray Charbonneau, who writes the Mathematical Runner blog, predicted early in September that qualifiers would need to be 4:03 faster.

New Boston Marathon Qualifying Standards


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