“You mean you have to qualify for the Boston Marathon? You can’t just run it?”
As Gals Who Run coaches, and Boston Marathoners, we hear this question all the time. Let this post serve as an FYI with all the details and specifics about how to gain access and some helpful resources for you if this highly esteemed athletic event is on your radar.
This week, the 2016 Boston Marathon registration closed. Qualified runners submitted their race times and are currently waiting, hoping they were good enough to be accepted and granted the privilege to run the 120th annual race on April 18, 2016.
The Boston Marathon is not one of the worlds most prestigious athletic events because of its history as the worlds longest running annual marathon. Boston bibs and unicorn medals are highly coveted by runners because of the effort and commitment it takes to earn one.
How to qualify for the Boston Marathon?
Simply put, you have to be a fast marathon runner. You must complete a full 26.2 miles on a certified course in a certain amount of time during a certain period of time. The qualification period for the 2016 race was open from September of 2014 until registration opened again on September 14, 2015. During that time, runners needed to have achieved these standards:
Image credit: BAA.org
Only about 12% of marathon runners achieve their qualification time and chasing the “BQ” in a race is not the only hurdle Boston hopefuls face. Simply achieving your time does not guarantee entry into the marathon. It’s a matter of how much faster than your BQ you can run. When registration opens, the fastest runners are invited to register, those who beat their time by 15 or more minutes. After a few days it opens to those who ran 10 min faster and then 5 minutes and then it will close.
If slots are still available, registration will re-open to all those who qualified and then ranked by how much faster they finished than their qualifying time, not the date or time they register. A runner who registers at the first possible minute will lose his or her slot to a runner with a faster BQ. It is no longer a first come, first serve registration process. For the past several years, it’s been about who got to their finish line faster.
Ways to get around qualification standards
The Boston Marathon typically limits its field to under 30,000 runners and about 90% of them make it to the start line. Commitment to a marathon is pretty significant and often people use it as a way to create awareness and raise funds for a cause.
To support these runners, the BAA has a charity bib program where runners can elect to raise money for one of 26 specified charities to earn a coveted bib. Exact numbers are hard to find but in 2015, there were 2,585 charity bibs available and those runners raised 15.6 million in funds according to Runner’s World. So awesome.
Is your eye on the Boston Marathon?
If so, there are some things you can start thinking about now to get you headed in the right direction!
- You need to build a strong running base.
- You need to build speed.
- You need a good training plan.
- You need to pick a good course.
These are all things we, at Gals Who Run, live to help you with! When it comes to endurance events like the marathon, it’s never too early to start planning and working on your goals. It’s all part of the process, the fun and the glory of achievement. If you can dream it, you can achieve it.
1. Build a Strong Running Base (even beginners!)
If you’re going to start piling on marathon mileage, form matters and every step counts. Get the basics down with our 5-Week “Basic Running Program” It is offered as an individually coached program, you’ll receive workout reminders, instructions and advice every morning directly to your inbox.
The 35-day training schedule will transition you from walking to running or running to running faster! Your daily coaching will set you up for running success as we cover the basics of form, proper warm up, effective cool down, nutrition, mindset and other oh-so-important running “must-knows!”
Registration is always open! Learn more here or register below and gain instant access to the materials for just $30. Since this program is individually coached, you can register when you’re most motivated and pick the Sunday that works best for you to start your program.
If you have a good running base in place, then our 4-Week “Fast Fall Running Challenge” is right up your alley. Offered virtually in a small group setting you’ll have daily coaching support and advice on how to run FASTER. You’ll also have the benefit of the private FaceBook community for added support and accountability.
With a focus on short sprint intervals, moderate tempo intervals and longer weekend runs with a fast finish, you’re sure to build strength, endurance and speed! Through the training schedule, we’ll know exactly how much faster you get!
Want to get Fast? You can, on your own, with a plan, daily email and coaching! …. The Advanced Run Program is the go-to!
Our detailed, 70+ page digital training guides are complete with beginner and advanced 12-week training schedules along with other essential information that will help you get to your first or fastest finish line. Starting at $49, we let you apply the cost of any registration to either of these guides. Watch this video to learn more about the guides or simply add to your cart today.
4. Pick A Good Race Course
It does not matter how good your training is, if you pick a bad course, achieving your qualifying time is much harder. Things to consider when looking for your BQ Course:
- Weather. Think of not just the location of the race but also the time of year. They say ideal running conditions are about 55°F. Anything too far above or below will impair performance.
- Course elevation. It does not take a genius to know that hills (particularly when they are steep and up) can slow you down.
- Course size. Marathons range from several hundred to over 40K runners. This can be a huge difference in course logistics. Larger races may have more course support, while smaller races will give you more room to run. This is merely a matter of preference.
- Crowd support. Larger races in big cities with easy public transportation will draw out more spectators. Screaming, supportive spectators and free high-fives can go a long way when it comes to picking up the pace, digging deep and finishing fast.
The California International Marathon (CIM) is a great BQ race! This course is the nation’s #1 BQ course with over 23% of finishers earning one, which is the largest of any major marathon (other than Boston itself of course).
They have BQ Pace Teams as well as a BQ Bell at the finish line for everyone earning their BQ. Even though the race is sold out, charity bibs are available and Oct 1-16th, the “Guarantee Entry” period will open for anyone with a time within 5 minutes of their BQ.
We want to help you get to your finish line!
Whether it’s in Boston or your local 5K. We know running can change you. From our own personal experience and what we’ve learned while building the Gals Who Run community, we’ve seen it and felt it change the lives of so many women.
We’re working hard to continue to build affordable resources to keep you in the know, up to speed and motivated to keep putting one foot safely in front of the other!
May your running shoes take you to many happy places,
Sheri & Teresa
Your Running Coaches