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How I Feel About the New Boston Qualifying Times

Oct 4, 2018 | Marathon Majors, Marathon Majors, Running | 9 comments


That number, to most runners, is significant. Or it used to be.

It used to be the Boston Qualifying time for women aged 18-34. Now though, it just got that little bit harder. 5 mins harder.


The new Boston Qualifying time for my age group for the 2020 race.

Boston Marathon Kit Haul - Boston Marathon jacket

Ok, so technically, 3.35 hasn’t been fast enough to actually get you to the starting line for many years now. With competition getting fiercer for bibs, this year you had to run 4.52 seconds faster than 3.35.

Looking at it that way, not a huge amount has changed.

If everyone that runs a sub 3.30 gets a place in the Boston Marathon in 2020, then it will actually only be an 8 second speed increase between the 2019 goal posts and the new qualifying time.

And I think that’s a great thing. My goal of a sub 3.35 wasn’t just to run a Boston Qualifier, but it was to run a BQ and get a place in the Boston Marathon and earn that spot. I want to run a time that will get me a bib, to line up in Hopkinton knowing that I ran my fastest to deserve to be there.

Hackney Half Marathon and 5.5K

I know that there were a LOT of disappointed runners this year. People that had run an official BQ but had missed out on that elusive start line because of the fierce competition. And I don’t want that to happen. For people to have worked their socks off to run a sub 3.35, and yet, somehow have ended up on the sidelines again.

I don’t know how they get around that other than by lowering the qualifying time, to avoid so many heartbroken runners come September.

However, if it keeps going the way of years gone by, and you really need a 3.25 to get into the race in five years time, then I don’t think it’s OK. Why set these arbitrary times if so many people can achieve them that it no longer becomes a way to keep to the number limits?

Boston Marathon Kit Haul -Future Boston Marathon qualifier

For some, just running the BQ will be enough. To know that you’ve run a time that officially qualifies you to at least put your hat in the ring.

I’ve followed Kelly Roberts and her journey to BQ, where her goal was to run a Boston Marathon Qualifier, however she recently announced in her video that her ‘BQ or Bust’ that her big NYC BQ attempt is still going to be a sub 3.35 rather than aim for a 3.30. Personally, I don’t think that it’s a BQ attempt anymore. The goalposts have moved, so by default the goal moves.

I had thought she’d made it clear that she wanted to Boston Qualify, that it wasn’t just about the time. It was the prestige of that qualifier.

Certainly, that’s how I feel.

If you’ve read this blog for a while, you’ll know I’ve actually run the Boston Marathon, back in 2017. I was given a bib thanks to Adidas, but I felt like a bit of  fraud. I felt like I didn’t really deserve to be there, and so I am determined to make my way back to Hopkinton having earned it.

So, whatever they make that qualifying time, you better believe I’ll continue to work my ass off to run it.

So 3.30…Phoenix.

I’m giving it my all.

Plus I very nearly did a Paula Radcliffe at the end of the race, so don’t have a good medal photo…so that’s another reason I have to go back! Read my race recap here!

Would love to know what you think about the changing Boston Qualifying times?

New Boston Qualifying times


  1. Gabbie C (@gabbiec)

    I think you’ve hit the nail on the head – if you had to run 3:30:08 this year to get in, then the change to the time won’t make much practical difference. If it prevents so many people being so disappointed at having run a BQ and not getting a bib, then I think it’s for the best.
    Also, even the very fastest are getting faster – just look at Kipchoge’s huge world record in Berlin. You could say the goalposts have moved for his competition too; that’s just how it is!

    • Kate

      Good summary Gabbie – couldn’t agree more.

  2. Charlie-Fraud

    The issues are not the times for the BQ. It’s Boston, it’s the most prestigious race! Berlin and NYC have far greater qualifying times yet no one speaks about them.

    Also if you said you felt like a fraud running Boston off a free place then why did you run it then and are pictured wearing the jacket? Surely that’s not right. If there is any justice, you won’t make a BQ and Boston through time. Karma has a way of showing itself.

    Taking free spots for Boston is a no no. Mistake made.

  3. Mimi Sol

    I understand why running Boston without a qualifying time would make you feel a little uneasy, but I think it’s a great accomplishment anyway! Charity runners raise thousands of dollars for their causes and earn their spot that way. You work hard on your blog and social to create partnerships with brands like Adidas and your hard work paid off with a Boston spot. I’m sure Adidas doesn’t just hand those out to any old schmoe! Also, it’s important for the Boston Marathon organization to have charity and corporate/sponsored runners. As much as it may feel weird to acknowledge it, the marathon is BIG business for the BAA and they know what they’re doing when they allow part of the field to be used by charity/sponsored runners. Every way to run Boston is important to the runners and the organization. Think of how awesome it’ll feel when you get your BQ and get to experience the marathon through the lens of a different accomplishment!

    Phew – sorry for the long comment, just don’t want you to sell yourself short!

  4. Maureen

    I feel like running has grown so much recently and while I certainly understand having to limit numbers, could they limit the amount of charity runners and runners that get in through companies? While running a marathon is an accomplishment regardless of how you get there, I think it would allow less people to run a sub-3:30 (or whatever the goal is for that age group) but not get a bib.

  5. Jon

    If 3:30 guarantees a place then it’s acceptable but 5 mins sounds a lot compared to 11 seconds per mile! What’s your current half marathon time?

  6. dallasrpi

    I think what makes Boston special is that you get to run with the very best. If it was easy to get in then it wouldn’t be special anymore. It took me 15 marathons before I qualified. It took running more, running harder, running longer, running smarter, learning from each previous marathon and of course luck plays a factor as well with the weather.

  7. kevin

    Here I am reading your Tokyo blog, trying to motivate myself to enter for Paris 2019.

    Like you I ran Tokyo this year, like you it was my sixth & final major. & I finished in 3.44.00!

    I wouldn’t remember seeing you, great event that it is, great people that the Japanese are, my memories are of a ‘near death’ experience!

    When you combine jet lag, tricky eating options (I don’t eat meat), poor clothing decisions – why didn’t I research likely weather conditions – it was colder than I had expected, carrying an injury (because you can’t carry forward that precious entry place), and the crowded streets, I just found the event so tough.

    But Boston is special, I loved NY & London, but Boston is just the best (awful weather when I ran in 2015 – but who cares?).


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