The Boston Marathon Qualifying Times Are Changing For 2020 and Beyond - Running with Miles
Marathons

The Boston Marathon Qualifying Times Are Changing For 2020 and Beyond

Written by Charlie

The Boston Marathon Qualifying times are changing for the 2020 Boston Marathon and beyond. This means you are going to have to run even faster to just qualify going forward. Find out about this change and see a history of the qualifying times for past Boston Marathon races.

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As a result of the fast cut-off time for the 2019 Boston Marathon, the BAA has decided to make the actual qualification times even faster than before. This means that runners will now have to plan to run several minutes faster than they have before to even be able to enter the registration process for the Boston Marathon.

The Boston Marathon Qualifying Times Are Changing for 2020 and Beyond

History of the Boston Marathon Qualifying Times

In 1970, the BAA started having qualification times for the Boston Marathon. At the time, it was a quite generous 4 hours for people to run a marathon to qualify for Boston. Over the next number of years, the BAA adjusted the time every couple/few years to try and find a sweet spot for runners without overloading the capacity of the Boston Marathon organization.

Here is a chart showing the qualification times over the years. If you did not know the history of the Boston Marathon qualifying times, you may be surprised to see that some years the qualifying time was faster than even the new Boston Marathon qualifying times!

Boston Marathon YearTime for MenTime for Women
19704:00N/A
19713:30N/A
1972-19763:303:30
1977-19793:003:05
19802:503:20
1981-198319-39 | 2:50
40-49 | 3:10
50-59 | 3:20
60+ | 3:30
19-39 | 3:20
40+ | 3:30
1984-198619-39 | 2:50
40-49 | 3:10
50-59 | 3:20
60+ | 3:30
19-39 | 3:20
40-49 | 3:30
50+ | 3:40
1987-198918-39 | 3:00
40-49 | 3:10
50 - 59 | 3:20
60+ | 3:30
18-39 | 3:30
40-49 | 3:40
50-59 | 3:50
60+ | 4:00
1990-200218-34 | 3:10
35-39 | 3:15
40-44 | 3:20
45-49 | 3:25
50-54 | 3:30
55-59 | 3:35
60-64 | 3:40
65-69 | 3:45
70+ | 3:50
18-34 | 3:40
35-39 | 3:45
40-44 | 3:50
45-49 | 3:55
50-54 | 4:00
55-59 | 4:05
60-64 | 4:10
65-69 | 4:15
70+ | 4:20
2003-201218-34 | 3:10
35-39 | 3:15
40-44 | 3:20
45-49 | 3:30
50-54 | 3:35
55-59 | 3:45
60-64 | 4:00
65-69 | 4:15
70-74 | 4:30
75-79 | 4:45
80+ | 5:00
18-34 | 3:40
35-39 | 3:45
40-44 | 3:50
45-49 | 4:00
50-54 | 4:05
55-59 | 4:15
60-64 | 4:30
65-69 | 4:45
70-74 | 5:00
75-79 | 5:15
80+ | 5:30
2013-201918-34 | 3:05
35-39 | 3:10
40-44 | 3:15
45-49 | 3:25
50-54 | 3:30
55-59 | 3:40
60-64 | 3:55
65-69 | 4:10
70-74 | 4:25
75-79 | 4:40
80+ | 4:55
18-34 | 3:35
35-39 | 3:40
40-44 | 3:45
45-49 | 3:55
50-54 | 4:00
55-59 | 4:10
60-64 | 4:25
65-69 | 4:40
70-74 | 4:55
75-79 | 5:10
80+ | 5:25
2020-18-34 | 3:00
35-39 | 3:05
40-44 | 3:10
45-49 | 3:20
50-54 | 3:25
55-59 | 3:35
60-64 | 3:50
65-69 | 4:00
70-74 | 4:20
75-79 | 4:35
80+ | 4:50
18-34 | 3:30
35-39 | 3:35
40-44 | 3:40
45-49 | 3:50
50-54 | 3:55
55-59 | 4:05
60-64 | 4:20
65-69 | 4:35
70-74 | 4:50
75-79 | 5:05
80+ | 5:20

As you can see, even with the increased qualification standards for the 2020 Boston Marathon, they are still easier than they were many years ago! But, that doesn’t really matter to the thousands of runners who worked really hard to get a qualifying time by the old standards – especially since, for many, hitting a race 5 minutes faster could be a 2 year process.

To see the historical reasons for each of these changes, check out the BAA page here.

Thoughts on the New Boston Marathon Qualifying Times

Note: One important note for those that may have run a Boston Marathon qualifying time since September 15 under the old standards – the BAA has said the time has to actually be under the new standards. This is in spite of the fact that the new standards were only announced yesterday.

As someone who has not yet qualified for Boston (but as often joked that I need to get 30 minutes faster or 30 years older!), I do not really have any skin in this particular game at this point. I am merely commenting on this as a spectator to the process with many, many readers and friends who are affected by this change.

First of allI totally get and understand this change and it makers perfect sense. With the cut-off time each year increasing by at least one minute over the previous year, this change simply means an increase of the qualifying time by 8 seconds over the cut-off time from this year (which would, interestingly enough, have kept 220 runners out had this been the standard for the 2019 Boston Marathon).

Rather than leave many runners in the dark, this draws a new line and gives them a number to hit for. However, I would guess that there will still be a cut-off time next year that will be faster than the qualifying time – possibly by as much as 30 seconds or more! But, at least this is a number that will eliminate the number of people who had hoped their time may just make it this year.

Second, for many runners, they never actually plan on running the Boston Marathon (due to travel, timing, cost, etc). but they have at least always been able to use the fact that they have a BQ, a Boston Marathon qualifying time. That does not require them to enter, just for their own personal knowledge that they did the time. While over 7,000 runners ran such a time and did not get in this year, that number is definitely a lot higher for those that qualified but did not enter. Going forward, that claim to a BQ just got that much harder. However, since I am talking about runners here who do not actually sign-up for the Boston Marathon, this is not that big of a deal over their personal goals.

My biggest problem with these new times is for those runners 80 and older. I stand in awe of runners that are over 80 years of age that are still able to run 26.2 miles. That is incredible! Personally, I think that just crossing a finish line at that age should qualify them for the Boston Marathon – or at least finishing a marathon under the cut-off time (which is normally around 6 hours).

For these runners, they may not have that many more years to qualify given their age factor (health issues, body issues, etc). I am not sure how many runners in those age groups actually apply but I cannot imagine it would be that large a number to make a difference to the overall participant list.

For those of you who this will affect the most since you might have just qualified this year, I really feel for you. It is hard to have the goal posts moved by 5 minutes – even if the cut-off time was almost that time anyway. Here is hoping that you can pull it off for next year. In case you want to start planning now, here are some tips for finding a good marathon for your Boston Marathon qualifying time.

Qualifying for the 2020 Boston Marathon

According to the BAA, “the qualifying window for the 2020 Boston Marathon began on Saturday, September 15, 2018, and will continue through the conclusion of 2020 Boston Marathon registration next fall. Registration dates for the 2020 Boston Marathon will be announced next year. Please note that the new qualifying standards do apply to valid marathon times run at races between September 15, 2018 and this announcement.”

Featured image courtesy of Marcio Jose Bastos Silva : Shutterstock.com

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About the author

Charlie

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.

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