If you are a runner and haven't been under a rock today, you have probably heard about Boston Marathon's new registration process and new qualifying times. They are giving preference to those who blow away their qualifying times and runners who make it by the skin of their teeth will most likely not make it in.
They are starting the registration early, leaving October marathons out (so much for qualifying this year in St. George). The first two days are reserved for runners who beat their qualifying times by twenty minutes or more. The next two days are for those running ten minutes faster than posted BQ times. Two days later, those beating their times by five minutes are allowed to register. A week after registration opens the rest of the qualifiers can register. In addition, the times in 2013 will be reduced by five minutes.
It is a good move for the Boston Marathon, which thrives on its reputation as the "race to run." Boston is a prestigious race for the mere fact that runners have to qualify to get in.* The harder it is to get in, the more impressive it is if you do. To maintain this elite status in the wake of increase in the popularity of running marathons, changes had to be made.
However, it bums me out a little. I was hoping that 2012 would be my year. I turn 45 and my qualifying time goes up to four hours. That extra ten minutes is huge! My 3:50 goal that I was so sure I could run last fall is now an elusive target. Long Beach really did a number on my confidence. I know I can run under four hours, since I did it at Surf City last year. For 2112, to guarantee the ability to register, I'd have to run 3:40. To get a decent chance, it looks like 3:50 is back on the table. I'm pretty sure 3:55 is already the minimum time (if the race isn't full before the five minute people are allowed to enter), new standards or not.
I still wonder why they have the same qualifying time for runners between 18-34. I think creating new age groups for BQ times might change the field a bit. But then again, they know the demographics of their runners better than I do.
Only time will tell how this will affect Boston. I'm pretty sure it will help it. My own running career? I'm not so sure Boston is in the cards for me. But we'll just have to see about that as well. What are your thoughts on the changes in the Boston Marathon??
*except, of course, the charity and corporate runners.