Thursday, February 17, 2011

The Only Constant In Life ...

...is change.

It seems everything Boston related requires mutliple attempts-this is my 3rd attempt to post my thoughts on the recent news that the B.A.A. has changed the qualifying times for the 2013 marathon. The last time the B.A.A. made QT's more stringent was for the 1980 race. There have been several changes to the QT's since then - always easing the QT's.

In 1969 the field of entrants was listed at 1152 runners and organizers decided to include a qualifying standard of 4:00 for the following year. This did little to filter the entrants; they lowered the time to 3:10 for the 1971 race-dropping the field to 887 runners. At one point in the 1980's you had to run a sub 2:50 to qualify.

Standards were relaxed and in 1990 they had the largest running field in the history of the event with 9362 entrants. Six years later, the centennial running quadrupled that number with 38,708 entrants. In true waxing and waning of popularity, the race was back down to a manageable number of 11,274 in 1999. Keeping in line with the running boom and as a result of relaxing the standards in 2003, the number of entrants began to rise-breaking 20,000 again in 2007. Registration was closed in February, two months before the running of the 2008 race, as the number of entrants reached 25,000. Registration for the 2010 race was closed after 64 days...and we all know about the 8 hour sellout for the 2011 race.

The discussion of changing the timing standard has been on the table for quite some time. There are those who say the gender gap of 30 minutes is too great, the gap between elite male and female runners is now 10-15 minutes. There are those who say it is much easier to get in for the "more seasoned"(older)runners-they get a 10 minute bump at 55 and a 15 minute bump at 60. Finally, there are those who say there are too many charity runners. In 2009, 1200 charity participants raised 10.5 million dollars.

This change was a foregone conclusion. I believe that lowering the QT's by 5 minutes all across the board this the most fair outcome. As a 36 year old male, I need to run a 3:15:59 of better to be eligible for the 2012 marathon; a 3:10:00 for the 2013 race. That is a difference of 13 seconds per mile.

Now, the rolling registration idea...that is a whole other ball of wax...one that I think Amby Burfoot covers very well right here.

Why Boston & Why Me?

My allure with the Boston Marathon began in 1987 when my A.J.R.O.T.C. Instructor walked into our classroom with his finisher's jacket. He had run the marathon several times and was more than willing to tell us all about the race. I found it facinating and vowed to run it one day. Fast forward 15 years and my life was a far cry from what I had envisioned. I was overweight & out of shape. Finally having had enough, I began to run again. 3 minutes at a time. All the while I had a goal of Boston, thus returning to the glory of my youth. Something changed along the way. I stopped planning the result and began to plan the action. I live in the moment and take each run day by day. No longer driven by the idea of being able to tell people I ran the Boston Marathon, I now am happy to run and share trail time with friends. My happiness comes from the inside, not from a jacket I get to wear on the outside. I still hope to run a BQ someday and toe the line in Hopkinton - but it no longer defines me as a runner. Afterall, it's only a race in Boston...and I am a lifelong Met's fan...we've already beaten them once....

(All stats taken directly from the B.A.A. website)

11 comments:

Jamoosh said...

So does this mean if you qualify under 2013 standards you are a better person than someone who qualified back in 2010?

GeorgiaSnail said...

...only if they are Red Sox fans...

ajh said...

Thanks for that link to Amby Burfoot's thoughts. It seems absurd that qualifying isn't really qualifying.

Jim ... 50after40 said...

Hahaha ... BUCKNER! Hilarious smack! Love it! My Royals have the same thing over the Cardinals, even though we needed a blown call for that one (but I'll never admit that to a Cards fan!)

lindsay said...

If you can be a Mets fan, running a BQ is nothing! :) (I am one too)

I don't care if they change the standards but I do think the registration process is lame. I haven't read Amby's article yet so I will go check that out.

Big Clyde said...

Good perspective. "I live in the moment and take each run day by day".

I like that.

-Chris said...

You know, I've pretty well decided that Boston isn't happening for me anytime soon, and I'm ok with that.

I do, though, plan to run the Leadville 100!

Anne said...

It's a bit amazing how that marathon's prestige has changed in recent decades. I remember when I had the opportunity to run Boston and thought: I hate commuting into Boston by car; why on earth would I want to run it? So I ran a marathon elsewhere. Had I known people now use it as a status barometer, I'd have done it, even though I've matured like Amby and no longer rank myself by how fast or how far I can run these days.

Andrew Opala said...

... what if you're a Blue Jays fan?

SteveQ said...

Finisher's jacket? In 1984 (2:50 cut-off), all I got was a plain white tee that read "Boston BAA Marathon Finisher" in two color printing.

Now Fukuoka... THAT's the ticket! You have to run one of the 100 fastest times of the previous year to get an invitation to run it. (Mine's probably in the mail with my invite to Prince William and Kate's nuptials).

Adam said...

Sadly, I still think it does define me as a runner. I won't even mention the things that I'm willing to do to get it.