One of the things that causes the Boston Marathon to have a certain mystique, in addition to it having been the oldest, continually run marathon in the US, is the fact that you have to be a pretty good runner to toe the starting line. The qualification requirements are age and gender graded so are challenging in each way – and even then, you are not guaranteed to be accepted!
The Boston Marathon Will Let Anyone Enter – Virtually
Well, this year, for the 125th anniversary of the Boston Marathon, they will be opening the cyber floodgates to anyone who has ever desired to get a Boston Marathon medal. This will be the first time they ever do this (last year, the virtual race was only open to those who had been accepted to the 2020 Boston Marathon) and likely the last (unless they realize how much money they can make on this).
The actual 2021 Boston Marathon will still be only open to those runners who have qualified and have cleared the qualification by enough room to be selected (it goes by the fastest time in each category and has been as much as 5 minutes faster than the qualification time in past years). In fact, this year’s will be even more difficult to get into as the field will be smaller and there will likely more runners that will be trying to get in. After all, this is a fall running of the Boston Marathon – something that just does not happen as it normally takes place in April.
But, for 70,000 other runners, the Boston Athletic Association will allow them to run/walk the 26.2 mile distance and earn for themselves a unicorn Boston Marathon medal. The registration window for the virtual marathon is not open yet – it will be available through here when it is. This will likely fill up very quickly as there are many who may never run the actual Boston Marathon but would like a medal.
For those that want to do it, you will need to run or walk the 26.2 miles in one go but without any time limit.
Is This a Good Move?
There will likely be many runners that will grumble about this, how it is cheapening the Boston Marathon experience. The truth is that the experience is safe as this will only be open to everyone to run virtually. Those 70,000 runners will not be running the streets of Boston on marathon day, they will not be taking in the crowds screaming words of encouragement, they will not be taking that final turn on Boylston and seeing the finish line ahead – that will be reserved for the runners who did qualify and who are selected.
Many runners dislike the fact that there are charity bibs that are assigned for the Boston Marathon either. These are given to local or national charities (with local chapters) to offer to runners who raise a minimum of several thousand dollars for that charity – no qualification time needed. But, this has been going on for years and will not be stopping – certainly not this year.
I will be one of the thousands of runners who will be trying to sign-up for a virtual entry. I am too slow (right now) for the Boston qualifier (my current best time is 3:29 and need a 3:05) but definitely have hope of qualifying some year! But, I love signing up for virtual events that have long been on my radar to run but I have never been able to. I am running several solo 26.2 mile runs each year anyway so it is nice to get a little medal for an event I am in awe of while I am at it!
The fact is that this is a great way for the BAA to raise money. These registrations may cost around $70 or so and the actual cost to them is quite a bit less. Multiply that by 70,000 and you have a lot of money for not having to even put on an event.
What do you think about the Boston Marathon going virtual for all?