How to qualify for the Boston Marathon

20 Apr, 2019 • by Admin

Many runners would consider qualifying and running the Boston Marathon as ‘Holy Grail’ of running and one of the hardest things to do on their bucket list

Every year, thousands of runners pursue the goal of getting to the Boston Marathon starting line. To do so, they need to run a qualifying race at a USATF-sanctioned marathon in the 12 months preceding Boston registration in September.

But as Boston fans now know, simply slipping under the time is not enough. Boston registration is rolling, with the fastest runners allowed to sign up first. Last year, in fact, runners had to be 4 minutes and 52 seconds faster than their qualifying standards in order to secure a number. This left more than 7,000 runners disappointed—they had achieved the qualifying standard but didn’t get into the race.

Meet time standards which correspond to age and gender

  • Visit official site to find the time you will need to qualify, based upon your age on the day of the next running of the Boston Marathon.
  • For the 2020 Boston Marathon, qualifying times must be run on or after Saturday, September 15, 2018.
  • The qualifying window will remain open until the conclusion of registration for the Boston Marathon (once the maximum field size has been reached).
  • Only a certified full marathon distance will be accepted for qualifying.
  • Distances shorter than a full marathon will not be accepted.
  • You must directly contact the race you wish to qualify at to see if they have a current certification.
  • All qualifying times are subject to review and verification.
  • Minimum age requirement for the Boston Marathon is 18 years of age on race day.

Have patience

Getting fitter and faster to meet a race goal takes time, more so for runners who are less fit, or have less years of running experience. Here’s the good news about the Boston marathon – the longer you take, the older you will get, and the easier the qualifying time will be. It took me 3 years, from a decent 3 Hour 50 Minutes marathoner to patiently chip away 30 minutes to meet my age-qualifying goal of 3 Hour 20 Minutes. If you are under 45 years old, with dedication and proper training you can drop 30 minutes even faster.

Enjoy the process, because it takes years of dedication

Unless you like training, it would be very difficult to stay committed to a training regime. Pushing yourself beyond your limits is not necessary. ‘Train until you puke’ is so old school because that is the surest way to feel burnt out. Instead, for each training session, I set two goals – a challenging A-goal and an achievable B-goals. For me and my athletes, the challenge of trying to meet A-goals with the comfort being able to achieve B-goals is hugely motivating.

Be consistent

Success in endurance sport is all about consistent training. An analogy I often use when coaching - ‘’training for a race is like pouring water into a leaky bucket. To keep it full, you have to keep adding water. Overdo it and the bucket overflows.’’ So add water and train consistently to keep the water and fitness level high but don’t overtrain or add too much too soon. Personally I recommend to my athletes to have a ‘gap day’ between training sessions to rest or cross train. I qualified for Boston with three runs and relatively low mileage of less than 50km a week. Running six or more times a week is probably OK if you are very seasoned or at the elite level.

Pick the right races

Pick several races that have courses which offer the best chance of qualifying. These races must have “certified” courses. This means that the distance has been determined to be accurate by the governing body of our sport: USA Track and Field


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