How to Qualify for Boston Marathon

How to Qualify for Boston Marathon

Every year shortly before the spring, all eyes in the running community are on April’s Boston marathon.

The event is the world’s oldest running marathon, and it’s sought after by many renowned runners.

It tops the list of the most famous marathons in the US, coming before both the Chicago Marathon and the New York City Marathon.

Unfortunately, though, qualifying for the Boston marathon is no easy feat. There’s a challenging list of requirements that you need to fulfill.

Even then, you can still get disqualified if the Boston Athletic Association decides to set a cut-off time to reduce the number of runners, and this has been happening every year since 2013.

Despite all the Boston Marathon qualifying standards, I wouldn’t worry if I were you. Qualifying for the race is still in your hands if you follow the tips in this article.

Read on to learn how to qualify for Boston Marathon!

The Boston Marathon Qualifying Requirements

How to Qualify for Boston Marathon: Runners in the annual Boston marathon

To qualify for Boston Marathon, you need to fulfill all requirements set by the BAA. Here’s a roundup.

Age

All runners in Boston Marathon must be over 18 years old. However, you can still register when you’re 17, as long as you’ll be 18 years old by the race day.

Time

To qualify for the marathon, you need to fulfill the qualifier time set by the BAA based on your age. For each age group, there’s a minimum time for finishing a full marathon.

These numbers may change every year, so you’ll want to check the BAA website for updates. Plus, your time must be covered in a certified full-length marathon, not just during training sessions.

Here are the Boston Marathon qualifying times for 2022, and note that they may change for next year.

Men

Age Group Qualifying Time
18–34 3 hours
35–39 3 hours, 5 minutes
40–44 3 hours, 10 minutes
45–49 3 hours, 20 minutes
50–54 3 hours, 25 minutes
55–59 3 hours, 35 minutes
60–64 3 hours, 50 minutes
65–69 4 hours, 5 minutes
70–74 4 hours, 20 minutes
75–79 4 hours, 35 minutes
80+ 4 hours, 50 minutes

Women

18–34 3 hour, 30 minutes
35–39 3 hours, 35 minutes
40–44 3 hours, 40 minutes
45–49 3 hours, 50 minutes
50–54 3 hours, 55 minutes
55–59 4 hours, 5 minutes
60–64 4 hours, 20 minutes
65–69 4 hours, 35 minutes
70–74 4 hours, 50 minutes
75–79 5 hours, 5 minutes
80+ 5 hours, 20 minutes

Bear in mind that in some years, the BAA had a 59-second allowance. So, if you crossed the qualifying time by 59 seconds or less, you could still be qualified.

However, that’s not the case now. If you exceed the time by one mere second, you won’t be eligible for racing, so make sure to abide by the previous numbers religiously.

Certified Marathon

To qualify for Boston Marathon, you should submit your qualifying time in a full-length marathon in a specific time window before registration.

For example, for the 2022 marathon, runners needed to set their qualifying times by finishing a marathon any time from September 1, 2019, until November 12, 2021, which is the registration date.

For the 2021 marathon, the qualifying window was from September 15, 2018, until April 23, 2021. So, it depends on each year’s requirements.

Remember to start looking for a qualifier marathon from early on to find a spot and to have enough time to train for it.

It’s also worth noting that if you weren’t accepted in the 2022 marathon, you could register for the 2023 race using the same qualifying time as the one you used before, as long as it falls within the required window.

For example, if you had applied for the 2021 race using a marathon result after September 1, 2019, you could’ve used it to qualify for the 2022 race.

Vaccination

Doctor vaccinating patient in clinic

All runners willing to register for Boston Marathon must provide proof of vaccination. Needless to say, that rule is another pandemic-born qualifier that wasn’t there before.

By ‘vaccination,’ we mean a complete vaccination with all the necessary shots according to the WHO guidelines.

The vaccinations need to be taken before the bib number pick up, which usually takes place a couple of days before the marathon.

If you have an exemption from vaccination due to medical reasons and have proof of it, you’ll be able to submit it for review.

Cut-Off Time

Unfortunately, covering all the previous requirements still doesn’t guarantee you a spot in Boston Marathon.

When the registrants exceed the maximum field capacity, the BAA sets a cut-off time to reduce the number of participants.

For example, if the qualifier cut-off time is two minutes, your qualifying time needs to be under the required by two minutes, or else you’ll be disqualified.

The bad news is, you only know the cut-off time after you’re already registered, so it’s too late to do anything to change it.

So the best you can do is go under the required qualifying time by 3–4 minutes to ensure you get a place.

The cut-off varies from year to year, according to the field size and the number of registrants. Here are the cut-off times for the last five years.

Marathon Year 2017 2018 2019 2020 2021
Field Size 30,000 30,000 30,000 31,500 20,000
Cut-Off Time 2:09 3:23 4:53 1:39 7:45
Disqualifed Runners 2,957 5,062 7,248 3,161 9,215

I wouldn’t worry much about the 2021 cut-off time. That was an exception because of field restrictions, no thanks to the pandemic.

So, it’s doubtful that such a long cut-off time will be set again unless another pandemic (god forbid) falls upon us.

You’d also be happy to know that in the 2022 marathon, the BAA set no cut-off time, so 100% of the registrations were accepted. That’s a first since 2013.

How to Prepare Yourself for Boston Marathon

Now that we have every qualifying standard of the race covered, let’s tackle how you can prepare for it. Preparation for Boston Marathon isn’t a walk in the park.

You need to be fit enough to cross the finish line.

You don’t need to fret over the results; even getting into the marathon is a big deal. Your eyes should be set on the finishing line, regardless of how long it takes you to cross it.

Here are the steps you need to take in preparation for the marathon.

Create a Training Plan

Notebook on desk with dumbbells, headphones and water

Marathons aren’t meant to be taken lightly. If you don’t train at least ten weeks before the race, you may not be able to finish it.

Our recommendation is to create a loose plan that goes for 12–14 weeks. That way, you have time to compensate for any setbacks.

During the plan, work on increasing your mileage and speed. You’ll need to put in at least one rest day per week to let your muscles recover.

It’d be best if you follow an already-existing plan for marathon training, so you have guidelines of what you should do.

Increase Your Mileage

Increasing your mileage is key to crossing that finish line in Boston. The main difference between a marathon runner and every other runner is the number of miles they can cover per week. To cross the line comfortably, you should be capable of covering 15–20 miles per week.

Start your training plan with your current mileage, and build your way up to this range.

Track Your Time

Marathons are all about time, and if you want to cover the qualifying time for the Boston marathon, you’ll need to track your running time constantly.

It’s better to use a smartphone application or your smartwatch for that to get accurate results.

You can use ASICS Runkeeper for complete tracking of your running data. Or, use Pumatrac. It tracks external factors that affect your running, such as listening to specific genres or running at certain times of the day.

And best of all, both of these apps are free.

Adjust Your Diet

Fruits, vegetable, grains and nuts on white table

If you’re on a fast-food diet, you need to adjust it before starting your marathon training plan. Your body should be getting its protein, carbs, and fats requirements.

Bear in mind that for a couple of months before the marathon, you’ll be making much more effort than you’re used it.

So, you’ll need to compensate for that in food if you want your energy to amp up.

Work on Your Easy Pace

You won’t cross the marathon finish line while sprinting, so you might as well lay low on speeding and start working on your easy pace.

To run a full marathon, you need to be able to maintain the same speed for a long time.

The right way to do that is to train your leisurely pace first. Running too fast during training can cause burnout or an overuse injury.

You’d be surprised that many runners only run a small part of the Boston Marathon in their qualifying pace, then go slower for the rest.

How to Register for Boston Marathon

You’ve covered the necessary requirements, and you created your training plan. Now, what’s left is to register for the race. Here are the steps you need to take to do so.

Watch the Registration Date

Registration for Boston Marathon often takes place in September, so you’ll want to open the official BAA website to check for the exact date.

If you don’t have an account, create one so that you can use it for registration.

Keep in mind that the Boston Marathon has rolling admissions. Runners with lower qualifying times go through before runners who cover the qualifier time on the edge.

The registration often stays open for five days only. If the number of registrants is less than the field capacity, it’ll open again, but that seldom happens.

Submit Your Data

After creating an account, and when the registration date comes by, you’ll have to submit your data.

You’ll need to provide the name of the certified marathon you ran, along with your birthdate and qualifying time.

Payment Checkout

Now that you have everything ready, you’ll need to provide a payment portal, so the BAA can charge you for the race.

For US residents, registering for Boston Marathon costs $180. Meanwhile, international registrants need to pay $240.

More often than not, the BAA requests that the payment be made by a Visa or a Mastercard, but you’ll have to check the requirements for the year you’re registering for.

What If You’re Accepted Into the Boston Marathon?

If you’re accepted into the Boston Marathon, you’ll receive an email to confirm it a few days after you register. It may take more than that if there’s a cut-off time, so you’ll have to sit tight until the results arrive.

Some marathons also take more time than others to review, so it depends on your qualifying marathon.

Keep in mind that if you’re accepted into the marathon, you’ll have a chance to run a 10k and a half marathon hosted by the BAA.

They’re meant to get the runners together and let them practice before the race, and the best part is, they’re both free.

Closing Thoughts On How to Qualify for Boston Marathon

Now, you know how to qualify for Boston Marathon. We trust that you’ll follow the guidelines closely and manage to get a spot on the race. If you don’t get a spot because of cut-off time, don’t be bummed.

You couldn’t have known, and there’s always an opportunity to participate in next year’s marathon.

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