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)