Best Races to Qualify for the Boston Marathon

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One of the most common goals among avid runners is to qualify for the Boston Marathon.  Unlike most other marathon events, one cannot simply sign up for the Boston Marathon.  Rather, you must run a qualifying time at another approved event in order to have your entry to Boston accepted.  Because of this process, it is considered a great accomplishment in the running world to be able to participate in the most famous marathon in the world.

Choosing your Boston Marathon qualifying run can be based on a number of different factors.  You certainly want to pick a race that will give you a good chance of hitting the qualifying number for your age bracket, but you also want to run a memorable and enjoyable race as well.  Most of the major city marathons across the country are Boston Marathon qualifiers, but some courses make reaching the target a little bit easier than others.  Consider the marathons below as some of the best races to qualify for Boston.

Steamtown Marathon, Scranton, PA

This marathon is an official Boston Marathon qualifying race and contains many sustained downhill stretches in the first 10 or so miles.  While no marathon course is easy, these downhill sections might be the early push you need to record your best time and make it into Boston.  Beyond the downhill parts of the course, the Steamtown Marathon is simply an enjoyable event with beautiful scenery and local charm.

Baystate Marathon

For an experience as close to Boston as possible, the Baystate Marathon in Lowell, Massachusetts is geographically near to the course in Boston.  You will enjoy the New England charm and hospitality, along with a flat and fast course that propels many runners to their best ever times.  The October date for this marathon usually results in comfortably cool weather – perfect for running a great race and punching your ticket.

Rock n’ Roll San Diego Marathon, San Diego, CA

You shouldn’t need any other reason to visit this marathon besides the fact that it is located in beautiful San Diego. Enjoy a trip to one of the prettiest places in the country and run a race that has produced many Boston Qualifiers over the years.  The Rock n’ Roll series of marathons have gained popularity in recent years as some of the most organized running events around.

Pocono Mountain Run for the Red Marathon, Pocono Mountains, Pennsylvania

While the idea of a ‘mountain’ marathon might send you sprinting in the other direction, this race can offer you a great chance of hitting the Boston Marathon qualifying time.  Since the race starts at elevation in the mountains and heads down the slopes, you should be able to turn in a great time and hopefully reach your goal.

Chicago Marathon, Chicago, Illinois

There are a few advantages to running the Chicago Marathon as your qualifying race of choice.  For one, it is a flat course that weaves around beautiful Chicago in the cool October weather.  This race is popular among those who are running their first marathon as well as Boston hopefuls.  Also, if you do qualify for Boston, the big-city experience that Chicago offers will serve you well during your Boston adventure.

The five marathons above are some of the best races to qualify for Boston in all of the country.  However, any sanctioned race can work for your qualifying time if you are able to put in the needed training and run a smart race.  Choose a marathon that fits your strengths and is held in a location that you will be comfortable with.  Stay focused on your goal and you will be in Boston before you know it!

This article was written for RunnersGoal.com by Matt R., a guest author

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