The 2019 Boston Marathon Cut-Off Time Was Tougher Than Ever!

2017 Boston Marathon Registration
Written by Charlie

The 2019 Boston Marathon cut-off was faster than ever and left over 7,000 qualified entrants without an entry to the 2019 Boston Marathon. This year’s cut-off was the toughest one yet and changed how things will operate with the Boston Marathon qualifying times going forward.

Count me as one of the many people surprised at how much faster Boston Marathon entrants were this year over years’ past! This year, the 2019 Boston Marathon cut-off time was the fastest time yet in the qualification race to get to the start of the Boston Marathon.

The 2019 Boston Marathon Cut-Off Time Was Tougher Than Ever

Since 1970, the Boston Marathon has used a qualification-based registration process. Boston is looked at the most heralded of marathons and, for many runners, getting a “BQ” – Boston Qualifying time – is a big deal. Due to the popularity of the race, the marathon eventually moved the entry system from the regular application system to a wave entry system since there were always more qualifying entrants than there were entries available.

For the 2018 Boston Marathon, entrants had needed a qualifying time that was 3 minutes and 23 seconds faster than their actual age-qualifying standard. For the 2017 edition, runners had only needed to clear their qualifying time by 2 minutes and 9 seconds.

For the 2019 Boston Marathon, accepted runners needed to have bested their official Boston Marathon age-group qualifying time by a stunning 4 minutes and 52 seconds! That is quite the jump, especially considering how many runners may have strived so hard to beat the 3.5 minute gap from last year. This is a full 89 seconds faster than runners needed to run for their qualifying marathon to get into the 2019 Boston Marathon.

Here are the numbers from the BAA and how it broke down by qualifications:

  • 30,458 applications were received during the registration period for qualifiers.
  • 23,074 qualified applicants have been accepted to date or are in the process of being accepted, pending verification of their qualifying performance.
  • 7,384 applicants were unable to be accepted due to the large number of eligible qualifiers who submitted an application for entry combined with field size limitations.
  • This year’s ‘Cut-Off’ time needed to gain entry into the Boston Marathon was 4 minutes, 52 seconds or faster than the qualifying time for each respective age group and gender.

This means there were 2,200 more applications this year than last year. Also, the BAA accepted 124 fewer runners than they had last year in the qualification categories (they hold spots for charity organizations and invited runners). Unfortunately, for the 2,200+ runners that did not clear that almost 5 minute jump, they will not be in the 2019 Boston Marathon (unless they run with a charity organization, but the threshold for fundraising is quite high – at least $5,000 to fundraise).

Breaking Down the Numbers

Here is the breakdown by qualification standard:

  • 5,256 Qualifiers met their qualifying time by 20 minutes, 00 seconds or faster.
  • 8,620 Qualifiers met their qualifying time by 10 minutes, 00 seconds or faster.
  • 8,545 Qualifiers met their qualifying time by 05 minutes, 00 seconds or faster.
  • 220 Qualifiers met their qualifying time by 4 minutes, 52 seconds or faster.
  • 433 Qualifiers were accepted based on finishing 10 or more consecutive Boston Marathons.
  • 270 Qualified Athletes with Disabilities have been accepted, or are expected to be accepted, through the conclusion of the Athletes with Disabilities registration period.

Somewhat surprisingly, the number of runners who qualified by over 20 minutes above their standard went up quite a bit – almost an 11% increase – with 565 more runners qualifying by that huge gap this year.

Here are 2 other notes that are something to see – last year, the number of runners who met the cut-off time by were under the 5 minute jump was a total of 2,905. This year, that was only 220. That is because the difference between the cut-off time and the 5 minute gap was just 8 seconds. For those 220 runners, 8 little seconds separated them from what will be the new standard (just goes to show how every second matters!).

The other thing of note is that the number of runners who are accepted based on the fact that they have finished 10 or more consecutive Boston Marathons went up a bit, from 424 to 433. Congrats to those new 9 members of that amazing “club” of Boston Marathon runners! Not only does that require running a BQ every year but it also means that they need to travel to Boston each year for it and there are always things that can come up to prevent traditional travel like that!


To those who were accepted, congrats! To those who did not make it this year, at least take consolation that you have still run a Boston Marathon qualifying time! That still means something – and it will be even harder to say that next year so take it now!

Featured image by Marcio Jose Bastos Silva courtesy of Shutterstock

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About the author


Charlie has been an avid traveler and runner for many years. He has run in marathons around the world for less than it would cost to travel to the next town - all as a result of collecting and using miles and points. Over the years, he has flown hundreds of thousands of miles and collected millions of miles and points.
Now he uses this experience and knowledge to help others through Running with Miles.

1 Comment

  • Maybe it’s just me as I’m an old, slow marathoner but sub 3 hours or 2:55’ish according to this data just to BQ if your under 35 seems really tough.