The Boston Marathon is one of the most prestigious marathons in the world, and participating in it is a great goal that every athlete who runs distance races has on his/her bucket list.
The 2024 edition will be the 128th Boston marathon that has been carried out since its inception, so there is no doubt about how iconic the race is.
And one thing that stands out about this marathon is that to participate in it, you must, first of all, earn your spot by first meeting the qualifying standard, which involves getting a particular race time in a certified marathon, with a certified full marathon distance.
So, if you are one of the people who dream of participating in the Boston marathon and what to apply for the first time but have no idea about what the qualifying time is or how to get it to participate in the race, then bother no more, because this article has got you covered.
In this article, I will be telling you about the Boston Marathon qualifying time, why you need it to stand a chance of qualifying for this prestigious marathon race and clearing the air on other questions related to the qualifying time.
The Boston Marathon is one of the few races in the United States that demands that you qualify before participating.
This race has a certain qualification standard and time set aside by The Boston Athletic Association (BAA) that you must attain first before you can stand a chance of being picked for the event.
This qualifying time differs depending on the athlete's age and gender.
But you must note that attaining this qualification time only makes you eligible to submit your registration application and doesn't guarantee that you will be selected to participate in this iconic event.
These qualifying time standards are meant to help the association cut the number of runners to a particular figure that can fit the field size used for that year's edition.
It also ensures that only runners that commit to enduring till they reach the finish line participate in the marathon.
So, people with the fastest qualifiers are preferred when the Boston qualifiers are more than the maximum field size.
The best way to be on the safe side and have a higher chance of participating in the race will be for you to put in a lot of hard work and get a finish time that is faster than the specified qualifying time for the event.
While trying to get your qualifying time, remember that only the race time from a certified full marathon will be accepted.
This marathon race must have a full marathon course with certifications by the Association for International Marathons and Distance Races (AIMS), USA Track and Field (USATF), or any foreign equivalent body that oversees distance running in the country where the race is being carried out.
For wheelchair athletes, it must be a full marathon course certified by the International Paralympic Committee, Disabled Sports USA, and Wheelchair Sports USA, amongst others.
Race times from a certified half-marathon, virtual races, or indoor marathons won't be considered.
Before every Boston Marathon event, a qualification window is set to enable you to participate in a qualifying race, get the needed race time for the event, and meet other Boston marathon qualifying standards.
After getting the qualifying race time during this window, you will be permitted to apply to participate in the marathon on the official website of the BAA.
Meanwhile, a five-day window is scheduled during the qualification period to enable you to register for the race.
The time the qualification window is usually opened also varies and can be between 7 months to 1 year and 7 months (19 months).
Note: If you don't get accepted into the Boston Marathon even after getting the qualifying time, you can use the same qualifying time to apply for the next race once the qualifying marathon in which the time was earned is within the qualifying window for the next race.
No fixed number of runners can qualify for the Boston Marathon.
This is because the number of runners accepted per race edition depends on the field size used.
Once the qualified athletes for the marathon are more than the number that can fit into the size of the field being used for that year, then the fastest runners from the pool of applicants in each gender and age group will be selected to participate.
So, as seen in recent years, meeting the specified time standards and submitting an entry application doesn't guarantee your place in the event.
No fixed qualification time can guarantee your participation in the Boston Marathon. This is because the time standards for each age and gender group can change from time to time.
For example, the qualifying times used from 2013 to 2019 are not the same as the ones in 2023.
The 2020 to 2023 editions have a faster time with an addition of 5 seconds for every gender and age group.
This also applies to the field size and cut-off time.
In terms of the field size, due to the effect of the COVID-19 pandemic, the field size was reduced in 2021 from 30,000 to 20,000.
And then increased to 30,000 in the 2022 edition, which saw every Boston marathon qualifier accepted to participate in the race with no rejections.
On the other hand, the cut-off time is only revealed after the total amount of submissions has been checked and counted and the timeframe for the registration has elapsed.
So, it is difficult to tell the cut-off time for the edition you are applying for.
However, I have created tables that show the cut-off times, field sizes, and qualifying times of the Boston Marathon in recent years.
Hopefully, it will clarify what range to expect in the future year's editions.
Below is another table with other additional information that you should know.
Note: At the time that this article is being written, the cut-off time for the 2023 Boston Marathon is not yet disclosed.
Having looked at the qualifying times for the Boston Marathon in recent years, let us now look at the races in which you can participate to get the demanded qualifying time.
Here is a list of some of the best races and major marathons in which you can participate to get the marathon time that will make you eligible to apply for the upcoming Boston marathon.
If you are looking for upcoming marathons in the area that you live then check these two websites:
I have many marathon training plans on this site from beginner to intermediate and a little more advanced.
If you are looking for a marathon training plan that will help you to achieve a specific time goal then here are some marathon training plans that might help you attain your goal:
Getting the best time that will allow you to be eligible to apply and be picked to participate in the Boston Marathon might require much stress and a long time, but it is worth it.
With the right amount of work and dedication and the knowledge you have gained about the qualifying time of the Boston Marathon from this post, hopefully, your chances of qualifying for the race will be increased.
I'll send you my free 24 Hour Timeline Checklist of Things You Should Do After a Long Run when you sign up!
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