Can You BQ? (Translation: Could You Qualify to Run the Boston Marathon?)
There are two kinds of runners: Those who want to run the Boston Marathon and those who have. If you’re relatively new to running and have never considered running Boston, well, give it time.
America’s oldest and most prestigious marathon is the epitome of races, the “Super Bowl” for runners. Unlike most marathons, where anyone can sign up, the Boston Marathon expects much more: a qualifying time to enter.
Even with a qualifying time, getting into the Boston Marathon proved harder this year. With the increase in people running marathons, there are more people qualifying for Boston than there is availability in the race, even with some 20,000 participants. So, starting with the 2012 registration, the faster qualifying times got preference in a “rolling registration.” In 2013, the qualifying times get even more rigorous - they will drop by 5 minutes.
Mike Dayton, 50, of Chaska, Minnesota, needed to run under 3:35 to qualify for this year’s race. “I first qualified at Grandma’s Marathon 2011, my first-ever marathon, with a time of 3:33:47, which was a BQ with a 1:13 cushion. However, the field filled at 3:33:46, so I was one second out.”
Ouch. (BQ, by the way, means “Boston Qualifier.”)
With a 2012 qualifying time of 3:45, Sara Huegerich, 36, of Ankeny, Iowa, was luckier. Her 3:41:40 marathon time last summer did get her a spot in this year’s race, which will be her fourth marathon and her first Boston. “I submitted my time because I wasn’t sure if I would meet the qualifying time again with the new standards for 2013,” Huegerich said. “When I did receive the confirmation of acceptance, I felt very excited, honored, and blessed.”
If Huegerich wants to run Boston again in 2013, she will need to run a marathon this year under 3:40. “If I want to qualify for Boston during Boston, I will have to run at least two minutes faster on this course that is described as brutal.”
Dayton has already qualified for the 2013 Boston Marathon after running a 3:23:40 at the 2011 Twin Cities Marathon. Now, with more than six minutes of cushion for his new qualifying time of 3:30, he’s confident he’ll run Boston next year. (Note: There is a window in which qualifying times apply, and the 2013 window began at the end of 2011.)
Cindi Matt, 40, of Minnistrista, Minnesota, is another runner who ran a Boston qualifying time, but still wasn’t fast enough to get into the race. With eight marathons under her belt, she says it’s been her goal to run Boston since she started running marathons in 2008. Even though she has yet to make it into the race, she is glad the qualifying standards are there. (I’m acquaintances with both Cindi and Mike.)
“When they make it even harder to get in, it makes me want to work that much harder to not just BQ, but to BQ by enough that I will actually toe the line,” Matt said, who is training to qualify at a marathon later this month. “I think I was initially upset when the new standards came out,” Matt admits. “But I have worked so much harder and now I believe I have a legitimate shot… But I suppose everyone else in the country is working just as hard too, so who knows how registration will go next year!”
Have you run Boston? Do you want to? What do you think about new standards to qualify?
—Kara Thom, Runner’s World Reporter