Reader’s Roundtable: 2020 Boston Qualifying Standards

So the Boston Marathon has changed its qualifying standards once again. A few years ago, the open women’s time (ages 35 and under) went from 3:40 to 3:35. Now, as of the 2020 Boston Marathon, that standard is moving down to 3:30. And it’s not just young women: The B.A.A. tightened qualifying standards across the board, all ages and genders. We want to know what you think:

Who out there has spent marathon after marathon chasing a goal? 

Anyone out there earn a qualifier, but not a fast enough BQ to race Boston?

How do you feel about the tighter 2020 Boston Qualifying standards?

      What function do Boston Qualifying standards – or some other external goal – serve for you as a runner?

Sal is a 4 year old 77 hour trail marathoner looking to whittle a few minutes off next time. Being a gastropod, Sal is neither male nor female but will accept either set of pronouns. Sal's spirit animal is the cheetah and Sal's mantra is, "What's slow to some is fast for others." Sal writes about Salty Running news.

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3 comments

  1. The registration times were reduced in 2012 by 5 minutes (plus the 59 sec grace!) right around the same time that a BQ came on my radar. At the time, I needed a 3:40:59, and I’d finally run 3:49. That qualifier felt like it might be in reach with hard work. When the time was lowered to 3:35, I initially thought I’d never be able to do it. But, instead, it just made me push myself even further than the arbitrary limits I had set for myself! I ran my next marathon (3 years and a baby later!) in 3:35:55, barely meeting the standard, but in a giant PB that only happened before I shot for the moon! A year later, I ran 3:29 to qualify for my first Boston.

    All that to say…let this be fuel, and not frustration, for those trying to qualify! You got this!!

  2. I have run 3 BQs and this is the first time I have been able to register as a qualifier. I actually don’t think this change of standard is going to have a big effect on the registration situation in the long term. If you look at marathon times, especially at big Boston feeder races, the finishing times tend to cluster around specific times – 4:00, 3:55, 4:35 etc. It might not matter so much for those who are running 20+ minutes under their BQ time, but for those of us on the margins, we are targeting a specific goal. Now, we are just targeting a slightly faster specific goal. I expect we will still see a lot of qualifiers shut out of the race after the new times settle in for a year or two and people have time to adjust their training.

  3. I like that the standards more accurately reflect the time a runner needs to achieve in order to get accepted into the Boston Marathon. I think nailing down the exact appropriate time will still be in-process. But hopefully the faster qualifying time will reduce the feeling of chasing a moving target!