Wednesday, March 2, 2011

New Boston Marathon Qualifying Times

The Boston Marathon released new qualifying times for the 2012 Marathon. It's upset a number of runners and for good reason. They essentially moved down the QT 5 minutes for each age and sex category.

In defense of the Boston Marathon, they ran into a lot of runners upset in 2010 when they met the QT (Qualifying Time) for 2011 but didn't apply in time. So the BAC (Boston Athletic Congress) met to determine what changes they needed to make to correct this problem. Moving down the QT 5 minutes would definitely lower the number of qualifiers.

They further removed the +59 second rule they had in place. This means, if a male, 55-59, runs a 3:45:59 QT, he qualifies (even though the QT is The argument here is because there could be a number of factors at the starting or finish line that impedes a runner to get a certified time (lots of runners to run around, varying measured distances, etc.), the 59 seconds would allow him a fudge factor.

They went another step further. They also would open the application time earlier in the season, the third week of September, so that the earlier a runner qualified the better.

Lastly, they also prioritized the applications that would be adjudicated. So if a 55-59 runner applied in the first week with a 3:45 time, BAC would admit a 3:25 55-59 male runner in the first 3 days of the open registration, a 3:30 55-59 male runner in the next 3 days, and so forth.. until the race filled. So, a 55-59 male runner could have a QT of 3:45 and still not get in.

But it raised a lot of other questions.

First and foremost, the basic question of whether the marathon is a people's race or an elitist race?

I'm surprised about the question. For those that didn't realize it, Boston is an elitist race. They do have a QT standard. That said, I do think that there are ways they could make it a people's race.

I ran Boston in 1996 on its 100th Anniversary. Before you give me respect for achieving this, I want to point out that in 1996, Boston had a Lottery. You could enter the Lottery and if you won the Lotterry and had a QT, you would be moved from the Lottery running wave into the QT running wave. If you won the Lottery and didn't get the QT, you ran in the Lottery wave.

I won the Lottery but never got the QT time.

So I ended up being one of the 5000 non-QT runners that ran it in 1996. I hope that someday they ask us all back for the 125th or 150th [probably my best chance to run it with the changes they made to it]. But I did get a registered finished time, shirt, medal, etc. that all finishers got.

I think Boston should have the Lottery every year the same way. Okay, maybe not 5000 entries, maybe a 1000, but whatever the number, give keep those Marathon runners dream alive of running Boston. I would be fine that once you won the Lottery, you couldn't run it again until you had a QT and got in via the rules above. Yes, even if that means I'm excluded from the pool because I got in via the Lottery back in 1996. Because I think everyone should get a chance to run it, its that special.

But I also think the changes that the BAC made will have unintended consequences, some of which I don't think they thought out. I believe that since registration will open in September, a lot of the fall (non-Boston, of course) marathons will see a lot of runners lose interest in running them. I mean, if you haven't qualified by October 1st, good luck getting in before the race fills. And that will have a ripple effect through the running community with runners applying for shorter distance races instead of the marathon, or runners setting their sights on spring/summer marathon races for the following year's Boston.

I can believe that the New York, Chicago, Twin Cities, Steamboat, Philadelphia (need I go on?) marathons are happy with this announcement since they are all run after 10/1/201x. Something tells me that the BAC will be getting pressure to change their rules once again.


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