Behind the elite athletes on the front of the line of races like the 2016 U.S.A. Half Marathon Championship at the Cap City Half are sub-elites trying to chase them down.
Last week I explained who sub-elite runners are, but now it’s time to tell you what is available for those of you who are currently in that group and those of you with the goal of making it into that group. As you get faster and as your goals become more lofty, you will likely need more and more support to reach them. That support can come in many shapes, such as family, friends, training partners, and flexible jobs, but today I want to explain what some races offer in the way of support for sub-elites like current or future you. From major marathons to shorter road races to national championships, there are many races looking to help you reach your dreams.
Assuming you’ve met basic standards and are looking for sub-elite opportunities, the Boston Marathon will require an email to the elite coordinator. Generally speaking, there are two levels of elite entry at Boston. One is the John Hancock Elite Team, which includes sponsored pros and others at the top of the field, so probably not a good bet for a sub-elite. The level most likely appropriate for you is the BAA Elite Team, which will include sub-elite runners, providing them with some of the special treatment on race weekend, like their own bus to the start, fluid stations, or VIP tent at the finish. But do not expect the luxuries of a free hotel, flight, or meals.
In order to be considered as elite for CIM, you need to complete an Elite Application for consideration. Basic requirements for women are a recent 2:50 marathon or 1:20 half. In the application you must provide your lifetime marathon PR, recent best marathon or half marathon performance, and any sponsor or team affiliation.
To run as an elite at Houston you must run at least a 2:32 marathon within 18 months of the race. But don’t fret, sub-elites! Houston also has an athlete development program (ADP), which “includes a limited number of runners that are provided the opportunity to have a priority starting location on race day.” With a qualifying time of 2:50 for a full or 1:25 for a half marathon, you get a free entry and start right behind the elite runners. However, an ADP entry does not include your own fluid bottles on the course.
Chicago offers what might be the best opportunity for sub-elites, with its American Development Program. Qualifying standards for women are more generous than many of the other marathon sub-elite programs on this list: sub 3:01 full or sub 1:21 half within 18 months of the race. The American Development Program includes a separate and secure start and finish area tent, private toilets, gear check, an AD start corral 15 minutes prior to the start and directly behind the elites.
“Whether you’re running a mile or a marathon, prove your running chops and you could get elite support,” boasts the Grandma’s Marathon website. While there are no set standards, you could qualify for travel, lodging or food assistance. To apply, send “your complete running resume highlighting your best times during the past three years in distances from 5k to marathon.” You can email them to the elite coordinator here, fax it to 218-727-7932, or mail it to PO Box 16234, Duluth, MN 55816.
Besides simply qualifying to get in, information regarding sub-elite or elite entry is hard to find for NYC. You’ll need to email them. A Letsrun forum mentioned that the top 50 fastest entries after the elites gain “sub-elite” entry status. In 2015 they released their sub-elite qualification standards for men as 2:35 for a full and 1:12 for a half, and women in 3:05 for a full and 1:27 for a half, but when you try to access the current sub-elite qualification standards you need authorization.
The RnR series eliminated its elite-runner program for a stint, but have since brought it back, thank goodness. Let’s break it down:
- For travel & hotel, the standard for women is a sub 2:33 marathon or 1:11 half.
- For travel assistance only ($250), the standard for women is a sub 2:35 full or 1:13 half.
- For race day VIP consideration, the standard for women is a sub 2:51 full or 1:18 half.
- For comp entry (for most races), the standard for women is a sub 2:59 full or 1:25 half.
*Half Marathon time standards must be run within one year, while a marathon qualifying time must be run within the last two years.
Prize purses may vary depending on which RnR race you do, and some offer performance bonuses too.
To qualify for the elite race at Twin Cities, the qualifying standard for women is a sub-2:49 marathon run within the previous two years or an equivalent performance in a shorter or longer race. If you don’t quite have these marks, you can still ask to be included, as the elite coordinator is allowed to add to the field at his or her discretion.
Major Non-Marathon Races
This is my favorite race of all time. To qualify for Bloomsday as an elite the race website says if an entrant is “at least 13 years of age and have a reasonable chance of finishing in the top 50 overall, male or female (5:15 pace for men, 6:30 pace for women), they may qualify for Elite Seeding. After mailing an entry form or entering online before the posted on-time deadline, runners who wish to be considered for this category should email information verifying their ability to Elite Seeding Coordinator John Neill.”
The website also states that “the Lilac Bloomsday Run has a limited budget for travel and lodging expenses for top competitors. Runners who believe they have a chance of finishing in a prize money position MAY be eligible for travel and/or lodging assistance.”
As an International race, the standards for elites vary and encompass a larger scope of talent. “Leading local, national and international athletes are invited to compete for a prize purse of $25,000. Subject to availability, The Vancouver Sun Run will provide travel assistance, complimentary accommodation, complimentary entry, and VIP treatment to qualifying athletes.”
If you are interested in participating, applications for elite assistance must be received by March. Standards for elite women is 34:30 and includes travel assistance, complimentary accommodation, complimentary entry, and VIP treatment. Those women runners with a 35:30 qualifying time can get a complimentary accommodation, complimentary entry, and VIP treatment. And those with a 36:00 may receive complimentary entry and VIP treatment. International and Masters athletes have their own standards, which can be found here.
Races like the Gate River Run 15k, Peachtree Road Race 10k, and the Beach to Beacon 10k require an email to the elite coordinators in order to be considered for an invitation. For Gate, contact Richard Fannin. For Peachtree, please contact Elizabeth Unislawski. For Beach to Beacon, please contact Elite Athlete Coordinator Larry Barthlow.
Have you ever raced as an elite in a local, regional, national, or international race? What were the perks? How did you qualify? For everyone, any questions about the process?