Boston Marathon: How Much Harder is it to Run a Qualifying Time?

In response to increasingly overwhelming demand to enter the Boston Marathon, the Boston Athletic Association revised qualifying times, lowering the standard by 5 minutes for all age groups hoping to race in 2013.

The immediate question on the minds of those with hopes for qualifying for Boston was: what will be the impact on the number of runners who meet the new qualifying limits?

The short answer: the percent fell from 13% in 2011 to 8% in 2012. The trends between 2003 and 2013:
  • 2003 to 2005: 7% to 8%
  • 2006 to 2007: 11%
  • 2008 to 2011: 12% to 13%
  • 2012 to 2013 (new 5-minute faster time): 8%

The major change between 2011 and 2013 did not diminish demand to enter Boston.

Those who ran qualifying times in 2013, 3,000 were turned away, and the actual times accepted runners ran was 1 minute, 38 seconds or faster than the standard.

We've run the numbers for the last 11 years, overall and by the largest marathons, to determine the change in number of athletes running qualifying times over the years.