So, I guess in our heart of hearts we all knew this was coming. Today, February 16th, the BAA announced that it was revising the registration process for the 2012 Boston Marathon and lowering the qualifying times for the race in 2013.
I have to admit, I have mixed feelings about the BAA’s decision. I do think that there is something poetic about allowing the fastest runners a better shot at getting into the big race. I have a hard time arguing against that. By the same token, I feel for those that have worked for years and years, slowly chipping away at their marathon times to finally squeak in. Although I did not have to wait years and year, I did essentially get in by the skin of my teeth. Last October I qualified for Boston by a mere 1:40. If you go back to look at my race report, you can see the pure joy on my face; the feeling of accomplishment. I knew I was in. I knew where I was going to be when registration opened. That feeling didn’t go away for a very long time.
But what happens now to that runner who does what I did? Sure, he BQ’s, but what does that mean now, really? If he or she has just squeaked by the qualifying times, then in all likelihood, that person is NOT going to get to run Boston.
***A quick rundown of the new procedure from Boston.com***
2012 rolling registration dates
- Day 1 (Sept. 12) – Qualifiers who have met their age and gender qualifying standard (3 hours, 10 minutes for men aged 18-34 and 3 hours, 40 minutes for women 18-34) by a margin of 20 minutes or faster may apply for the marathon.
- Day 3 (Sept. 14) – Qualifiers who have met the standard set for their age/gender by a margin of 10 minutes or faster may apply.
- Day 5 (Sept. 16) – Qualifiers who have met their age/gender qualifying time by a margin of 5 minutes or faster may apply.
- Day 8 (Sept. 19) – Open to all qualifiers to register.
- Day 12 (Sept. 23) – Registration closes for qualified applicants. Registered qualifiers will be notified of their acceptance by Sept. 28.
For 2013, there are new qualifying times
The rolling registration also applies to 2013 and beyond.
Essentially, the BAA has lowered the qualifying times for 2012 by 10 – 20 minutes and 15 – 25 minutes for 2013 and beyond.
So what does that mean for me? It means that for the next 3 years, I have to run a 3:00 marathon before this September and a 2:55 marathon before September 2012 if I want to have any hope of registering on the first day. If I am going to be optimistic, it means a 3:10 this year and a 3:05 next year if I want to believe there will be space available on the 3rd day of registration. If I am lucky enough to take 5 minutes off of my PR and run what is essentially a 3:15 (3:10 for 2013 and beyond), I’ll have the privilege of being allowed to join the registration fun on the 5th day.
I wonder what is the likelihood of spots still being available on the 5th day.
Now, I could sit here and bitch. I could sit here and moan. I could sit here and cry.
Instead, I am going to count my lucky stars and be thankful that I get to run this year, as a qualifier. I am half way through my training program. There are 60 days left between now and April 18th. I am going to stick my plan and shoot for a 3:15. 2012 looks unlikely for me at this point, as I am unlikely to run a 3:10 at Boston, and I don’t think I will be ready to run another marathon until after registration opens. Sure, I am BQ’d for 2012, but based on my time from this past October, I am in the last group that gets the opportunity to register, if there are any spots left. That’s a big “if” even if I do manage a 3:15 this coming April.
So 2012 is likely lost to me, but 2013 is not. Sometime between this coming September and the following one, I will run another marathon. I will have a new challenge. 3:15 may be what the qualifying times are for a man of my age, but because of the rolling registration, they have essentially lowered it to 3:05 starting in 2013.
I am up for a challenge. BAA, you want to make me run a 3:05 so I can run your race? Fine. Bring it.
In the meantime, I am going to enjoy Boston 2011.
60 days ’til race day!