As most of us geeks who pay attention to the Boston Marathon, this year's race sold out in 8 hours and change. In response to the mad rush to register (and to the fact that fast runners with slow computers or, uh, had jobs to go to on registration day) got shut out the Boston Athletic Association announced that the qualifying process would undergo changes.
The changes were announced today, and while I am essentially guaranteed of never running Boston again unless I magically run faster and faster as I get older, I think the changes are fair.
Basically, runners who best the qualifying time for their age groups by 20 minutes or more get to register first in a few-day window. This group is followed by runners who qualified with 10 minutes to spare, followed by those with 5 extra minutes and then, if the race isn't sold out, for runners who met the qualifying standard by 4:59 or less. The qualifying times were also slashed by 5 minutes and 59 seconds for all age groups, meaning, for example, that a woman my age (33) would now need to run a 3:35 instead of a 3:40:59. A 3:35 would be the slowest possible qualifying time to get in. It wouldn't guarantee entry by any stretch -- just the chance to register if those who qualify by greater margins don't fill up the race first.
So, the fastest runners get in, those who are a little faster probably get in, those who are a little slower might get in and those who meet the maximum qualifying time probably won't.
My only issue with this is that it takes away the fun of crossing the finish line in a qualifying race and knowing that Beantown is in your future. That, and the fact that I would likely need to run a 3:25 to be sure of getting in, which is something I don't see myself doing at any point (I think I would have to put forth way too much effort at expense of just about everything else-- I struggled to get my qualifying time under the old standards to begin with).
It does seem fair. Why should slower runners get in just because they managed to get through to the BAA server first on registration day? It should be a race to the finish line, not a race to see who has the faster computer.
So what's my plan for Boston in the future? My plan is to not worry about it. There's more to life than Boston (although it is pretty damn fun) -- for now I'll focus on the other fun races out there -- adventure races, one day meeting my goal of a sub-20 5k (yeah, right), hopefully a 50k or a few in the next two years if I could just buck up and register for one and focusing on my half-marathon times to land myself in the NYC Marathon. And also duathlons and maybe a 50-miler. Or a 100k. Ok, not a 50-miler or 100k, ever. But more trail runs. And, you know, everything else out there that is fun.