I AM IN!!
I got my confirmation of acceptance today and of course, immediately burst into tears. In the lead up to this morning, the Boston Athletic Association was making it really clear that it would be tougher than ever to get into the race.
Here's my post from last week:
I have lots of family and friends who are not runners, and I know the Boston Marathon process can seem pretty darn confusing. When I first started running, I had no idea you had to qualify to run it. And then I had no idea they had a charity program. And then they changed up all the rules a few years ago, and it got more confusing.
Qualifying doesn't necessarily get you into the race. You can check "Qualified for Boston" off your bucket list, but to secure a spot at the starting line, it can be tougher than that.
Back in 2012, Boston changed up the rules because the race was selling out so fast and some of the fastest runners out there weren't getting into the race. The qualifying standards got tougher, and they instituted a rolling registration schedule.
Currently the qualifying standards are as follows. They are based on gender and age group, and your qualifying time needed is based on your age on Boston Marathon race day.
45-49: 3:55 <----that's me!
The qualifying window is typically 7-19 months prior to race day, mid-September to mid-September. Registration is in the September in the year prior to the race. The qualification window for the race will close when registration closes, so you can qualify right up until the last minute.
The registration process goes on for about 2.5 weeks. It is a rolling admission schedule, starting with the fastest qualifiers in his or her age group.
The first day of registration, in this case September 10, is for those who met their standard by 20 minutes or more. On the third day, September 12, it is opened up for those who met their standard by 10 minutes or more. On the fifth day, September 14, it is opened up for those who met their standard by 5 minutes or more. Each new group gets a chance to register provided the field size has not been met.
The second week of registration, starting on September 17, includes all qualifiers provided they reopen it. They will announce the evening of September 15 if they are reopening registration for all qualifiers. Then registration is typically open for a couple more days, and then they will announce if the field size has now been met and if they will be able to accept all qualifiers up to this point. With the exception of 2013, there have been too many applicants for the available spots and this is where it kind of sucks.
Because there are too many applicants, they have to determine where a cut-off needs to be. It's not first-come, first-serve, but rather based on how far under your qualifying time you were able to run. Last year was the strictest cut off since they began this new process, at 3 minutes, 23 seconds under your respective qualifying standard. So if you ran a 3:31:37 and you needed a 3:35 to qualify, you got in. But if you ran a 3:31:38, you did not. Pretty brutal!
It takes them over a week to determine what this cut off is going to be since it's based on how many register and who registers. I would imagine it's a nerve-wracking wait to find out if you are really getting in or if you'll have to try again next year.
I have a cushion of 5 minutes, 7 seconds, so I get to register on September 14. I will be on pins and needles waiting for the announcement on September 15 on if they will be reopening registrations for all qualifiers. If they do, then I know my cushion was big enough.
Greg has a cushion of 4 minutes, 43 seconds. So he has to wait until September 17 and will be one of those who is on pins and needles. However, I would imagine if they reopen, then that kind of cushion should be enough. You never know for sure until the announcement, but I think he'd be pretty safe.
I had an interesting road to my qualification. My first shot at it, at Mississippi Gulf Coast, ended in disappointment not because I didn't run fast enough, but because the course was mismarked and came up short. I calculated that had it been accurate I probably would've qualified with about a 4:10 cushion, not fast enough to avoid the dreaded wait. But because Boston is not accepting any times for that race, I had to run another qualifying time. I did that in Baton Rouge a few weeks later, and ended up with a bigger cushion that what I would've had in Mississippi. While at the time, the shock of a messed up course was agonizing after all that hard work and a great race, it could end up being a blessing in disguise. I honestly don't think I would've pushed as hard at the Louisiana Marathon knowing I had already qualified with over 4 minutes to spare. Or maybe I would've wanted that 5 minutes. I just don't know for certain. Instead, I HAD TO qualify to actually get the opportunity to apply to run Boston. Wouldn't it be crazy if the cut off is 4:15 or something like that? I'm not sure I would've been fast enough in Mississippi! That truly would've sucked.
So there you have it. The crazy Boston Marathon registration process.
They will also be indicating if there will be any changes to the qualification standards for future races. Will they toughen the standards again? Should they? I'm in the camp that thinks they should toughen the standards starting in 2021, particularly if it's a very large cut off again this year. But maybe it'll be smaller and they won't feel the need to tighten things. It certainly would give me a kick in the pants to push myself even harder in the coming years if I want to continue to qualify.
And now....here we are on Monday, September 17, and they did reopen registration for all qualifiers, but they very clearly stated that they would only take a "small percentage" of Week 2 submissions. The cut off is going to be massive. Greg is sitting on a 4:43 under and he registered this morning. He will need to wait about 9 days to find out if it's enough. I think he'll be just fine and we will REALLY celebrate when he gets that email!