On New Boston Qualifying Standards, Fairness, and Determination

Warning: The title was initially “On Qualifying, Fairness, and Determination”. I’m not sure if I’m sticking with that topic.  It just echoed the general reaction from runners in response to the new qualifying standards and procedures for the Boston Marathon announced 10 days ago. That’s part of my inspiration for this post. I threw in the linkbait-ish “New Boston … Standards” bit just so the post title is clear without the context of the blog as a whole.


Obviously, I’m late to the pity party/pile-on about Boston.  I probably whined 3-5 times on Twitter, so I’m not completely indifferent in how the B.A.A. has ruined my life and all (self-deprecating sarcasm, people…).  However, to be honest, for 31 years of my life, Boston qualifying was as unattainable as the Olympic trials is for the average marathon enthusiast.  I didn’t even run for 30 of those years. It was only after breaking 3:40 in my second marathon that I needed a bigger dream. Boston, for my running ability, pretty much fit that mold.

Besides, I’m still too busy being annoyed with our own local half-marathon’s changes to care about what’s changed with Boston.  That, and jobs, kids, life, and actually finding the time to run.

My new standard

I don’t really see that I have a new standard.  I set out with a goal of 3:20:59 [or 3:15:59 for the next couple of years] before I turn 40.  Those new standards are 3:15:00 and 3:10:00 respectively.  There is no sense sweating 5 minutes and 59 seconds when I have at least 12 minutes of gap to close before then.

Qualifying is one thing. Gaining an entry through qualification is more a matter of luck, unless meeting the standard wasn’t a major challenge for you in the first place. The guaranteed entries will go to those who beat their respective standards by more than 5, 10, or 20 minutes.  The leftovers will go to those who just barely beat their time.  Given that the women’s standard is 30 minutes slower than the men’s, those margins are smaller percentages of the overall time for women than men.  This is not to mention the argument that the women’s world record is only 9.2% slower than the men’s, yet the fastest women’s standard is 16.2% slower than the men’s.

However, in terms of fairness and tough standards, Boston has, in the past, required a 2:50 for under 40 men, 3:10 for all other men, and 3:20 for women.


I can imagine that many people will abandon their pursuit of qualifying for Boston over this. I don’t really see how a single organization managed to redefine the term “self-improvement” in the dictionary. Do you cease professional development because another layer of management was inserted between you and the CEO? Never mind. Don’t answer that.


All of this rambling aside, life changes, marathon entry changes, and course changes have made me reevaluate what a challenge is for me–at least this year.  It’s not about lining up with 10000-50000 of my closest friends, although I’ll probably do that in New York this year. It’s not about hitting 10 PRs–I’m hoping for two.

This year is about running consistently, every week, every month.  I’m working on my 3rd 50-mile week in a row.  I’d like to build up a streak of at least 20 of those.  I’m also working on my second 200 mile month this year. It’d be quite an accomplishment for there to be 12 of those this year. With jobs and family, keeping running going this year is my Boston qualifying.  With a year of consistent running, maybe I can build a successful training problem on top of it late this year or early next year.

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