Boston Marathon Runner Waves Results Analysis

By Raymond Britt of RunTriMedia

Our article Number of Boston Marathon Finishers by Year 2000 to 2017 shows a sharp increase in entrants over time, which that necessitated changes by the Boston Athletic Association. The main change was the start; too many runners to occupy narrow Main St. in Hopkinton at one time led the BAA to cap the race at 30,000+ entrants, split into four different starting waves of about 7,500+ entrants each. 

As bib numbers are assigned in qualifying order, the first three waves are made up of entrants who qualified for the race. Wave 4 is largely made up of non-qualifiers, entrants running for a charity. As a result, you'll notice some stats for Wave 4 are skewed, such as average finish time = 40 minutes slower than Wave 3.
  • Wave 1: 7,686 entrants, 15% Did Not Start/Did Not Finish, 6,552 finished, average time 3:18
  • Wave 2: 7,593 entrants, 13% Did Not Start/Did Not Finish, 6,614 finished, average time 3:45
  • Wave 3: 7,596 entrants, 12% Did Not Start/Did Not Finish, 6,713 finished, average time 4:04
  • Wave 4: 7,347 entrants, 13% Did Not Start/Did Not Finish, 6,486 finished, average time 4:$5

Here are charts with complete stats by Wave in 2017, average finish time, entrants, DNS/DNF, mix by gender, mix of age groups by entrant.