Here is How Fast You Had to Run to Gain Entry to the 2021 Boston Marathon

2017 Boston Marathon Registration
Written by Charlie

The cutoff time for the 2021 Boston Marathon was huge – but, there are some interesting things in the numbers about how many missed it and the field size.

Everyone knew that gaining entry into the 2021 Boston Marathon was going to be quite a bit more difficult than previous years. Not only did an extra year get added to the qualification window due to last year’s race cancellation but the B.A.A. also reduced the total number of runners for this year’s race. As we have known for a while, running a Boston Marathon qualifying time does not mean you get to run the Boston Marathon!

The Cutoff Time for the 2021 Boston Marathon

For the 2020 Boston Marathon, the B.A.A. had changed the qualifying times to make them 5 minutes faster for each group. Overall, this was a good move since the cutoff time prior to that had been almost 5 minutes faster than the qualifying time!

Nothing like running the race of your life and qualifying for Boston only to find that you didn’t make the cut! So, making it 5 minutes faster at least set expectations a little bit. The only thing that would have kept this year’s cutoff a bit lower was the idea of the Covid-19 virus still being a large issue come October.

But, here were the things that possibly contributed to the quicker cutoff time this year:

  • First Boston Marathon in the fall – this would certainly pull in some runners that may otherwise have given another April marathon a pass
  • A longer qualification period (the original 2020 qualification window extended all the way until registration closed for the 2021 Boston Marathon)
  • Fewer slots available (27,288 runners had been accepted based on qualifying for the 2020 Boston Marathon vs only 14,609 runners being accepted this year – almost half as many)

What Was the Cutoff Time?

So, will all of those things combined, it may not be that big of a surprise to learn that the cutoff time for the 2021 Boston Marathon was 7 minutes and 47 seconds! This is the greatest cutoff time yet so definitely leaving a lot of disappointed Boston Marathon qualifiers in waiting!

As a matter of fact, 9,215 qualifiers were not accepted. That is a large amount though not as many as I may have thought so maybe the virus is still keeping people away. That and the fact that most of the big marathons in the world are taking place within weeks of each other this year.

To put things in perspective – if the normal field had been welcome this year, there would not have been a single qualifying runner turned away! In fact, the field would have come up short for the first time in a long time!

Yes, the total field is 20,000 runners this year but the B.A.A. has some invitational bibs available as well as a number of charity bibs. There are certainly strong feelings about that on both sides but it is what it is and a lot of local Boston charities depend on this fundraising each year – even more so this year since the race didn’t happen last year.

For those runners that did not make the cutoff, the B.A.A. will be letting you register for the virtual race, if this is something that would interest you. You would still get a Boston Marathon medal, just not the same one as if you ran the real thing. But, there is always next year! Remember – you are still a Boston Marathon qualifier even if you didn’t make the high cutoff this year!

Featured image courtesy of Marcio Jose Bastos Silva via 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.