Last week, on Wednesday February 16th, the Boston Athletic Association (B.A.A.) revealed their new qualifying standards for the 2012 and 2013 races. Runners had been anticipating this news ever since September 2010, when the 2011 marathon online registration sold out in about 8 hours. Clearly, the registration and qualifying procedures needed a revamp.
The most efficient way to relay the updates is to give you the link so that you can read the BAA press release for yourself. So, to get the information “straight from the horse’s mouth,” click here.
If you’re feeling lazy, or frankly don’t give a toot, here’s what I took away from reading (and re-reading! *geek!*) the statement:
~ the BAA is introducing a rolling/tiered admission procedure starting with the 2012 Boston Marathon. The faster your qualifying time, the earlier you can register
~ the BAA has tightened qualifying times by five minutes for every age group, beginning with the 2013 race.
~ to reward longevity, the BAA lets those who meet the qualifying standard AND have run at least 10 consecutive Bostons to register at any time (ie on the first day of registration).
As you can imagine, the reaction in the running community has been mixed. I laugh a little, because I truly believe it is just human nature to resist change. So any new initiatives, regardless of what they are, are going to be met with skepticism by some/most people.
If you’re interested in reading feedback, here are a few links to check out:
~from the Runner’s World Forum:
(grab a coffee – as I am posting this link, there are 309 posts in this thread!!)
~from the Running Room Forum:
(in typical mild-mannered Canadian fashion, there are only 23 replies to this thread!)
~an article from the Marathon Guide website:
Now for my own thoughts…
I am 100% in favour of these new initiatives, and commend the BAA for decisively and boldly updating both the qualifying and registration procedures.
I, like a few of the commenters at the Runner’s World link (above) agree that runners should use these stricter standards as positive motivators in training and racing. Just run faster! Train harder! Dream bigger! Race smartly!
Boston is the only marathon in the world for which a runner must qualify (excluding charity runners). It truly is an “elite” racing experience for the masses. With demand being at an all-time high, it IS time to tighten standards and redefine what is an “elite finishing time” for the non-professional runner.
Some people argue that women have it easier then the men in terms of their qualifying times. Maybe, maybe not. But in the interests of being fair, the BAA had to take away five minutes from everyone. Simple and just.
While Boston is an absolutely fabulous race experience (Sidenote: I ran Boston in ’97, ’98 and ’99; my PB was set on this course in 19998: my net time was 3:00:45) with a thoroughly enjoyable and unique course, it is not the only memorable or unique or fun marathon out there. Paris, Disney, New York, the Great Wall of China…there are exotic marathons, unforgettable routes, once-in-a-lifetime/Bucket List choices out there for everyone…you name it, you want it, you can find it in terms of a race experience.
By issuing the new standards in February, six months ahead of registration for 2012, the BAA gives runners the opportunity to wrap their heads around the new process. People like time to adjust, think about, whine about, debate new initiatives. I can’t wait to see how these changes improve both the registration and race experiences.
By the way…only 56 days to Boston 2011!