With registration of the 2016 Boston Marathon more than likely coming to an end tomorrow, people (including myself) are looking to qualify for the 2017 Boston Marathon. First, a disclaimer. I do not plan on running in the 2017 marathon, but I do have an active streak of running 4 marathons where I have achieved a BQ time.
There are a couple factors into the uncertainty of what my qualifying standard is. The first is, for the 2017 Marathon, I will be 35 years old. So I will get an extra 5 minutes compared to what the standard is for 34 and under. Second, unlike in past years shortly after registration opens, the following years standards and when you can start qualifying, as not been announced yet. This leads to more and more speculation that there is a change in the way. If the standards so change, it would be the first time since qualifying standards for the 2013 marathon were announced. But the standards have changed often over the past 120 years, check out the History here. Believe it or not, the standards have been a lot tougher in years past.
Since registration for the 2014 Marathon, a qualifying time has not ensured entry. If you did not run more than 1:38 below your standard, you did not get into the race, and that was with an expanded field following the 2013 Boston Marathon bombings. In 2015, it was a 1:04. After registration closes last year, there were some hints from the B.A.A. That there could be changes on the way.
With the B.A.A. announcing that the first week of registration showing an increase over last year and the fact that they have yet to announce what the standards will be for 2017 and when runners can start qualifying, there is some speculation a change will be announced in probably the next couple of days. Why so soon? It’s obvious that once registration closes on Wednesday, the field for the 2016 Marathon will be filled and registration will not reopen next Monday. Add onto that the fact that in the northern hemisphere, fall marathons are starting to pick up.
Let’s say the standards do change, by how how much? Will they keep it nice and easy and lower the standards by 5:00? If so, for me, that really means no change for me compared to the last couple years (3:05:00). But this will mean registration would probably remain open longer than 2 weeks to fill the number of spots allowed by the B.A.A. (Probably 30,000).
Will they consider just dropping the standards by 2:00? This wouldn’t make it as difficult to get in and fewer qualified entries would be left out, but the standards wouldn’t be as nice and neat as they are now. For example: for me 34 and under, the current qualifying standard is 3:05:00. Drop 2:00 and the standard changes to 3:03:00. For 35-39, it would change to 3:08:00. Or will the B.A.A. Change it to something else? We will have to wait and see.
I just want to know before Saturday’s marathon. But here is what I think is going to happen. I think we wil see a change, and I think that the change will be dropping the standards by 5:00. Keep it nice and neat and easy to remember. Will be people be upset? Yep. But you can’t make everyone happy. And as organizers said in 1970, “This is not a jogging race.”