October 20, 2015

Please Come to Boston - 10 Things You Need to Know About the Boston Marathon

For all but the most elite long distance runner, qualifying for the Boston Marathon is the pinnacle of athletic achievement. For the few who don’t know, the Boston Marathon is an annual marathon (26.2 miles) hosted by several cities in greater Boston in eastern Massachusetts, United States. It is always held on Patriots' Day, the third Monday of April. The first Boston Marathon was in 1897.

So here are 10 things you need to know about the Boston Marathon:

  1. There are rules to qualifying for the Boston Marathon. You have to run a qualifying time in order to actually run Boston. Here are the projected qualifying times for the 2017 edition of the Boston Marathon:





    3hrs 05min 00sec

    3hrs 35min 00sec


    3hrs 10min 00sec

    3hrs 40min 00sec


    3hrs 15min 00sec

    3hrs 45min 00sec


    3hrs 25min 00sec

    3hrs 55min 00sec


    3hrs 30min 00sec

    4hrs 00min 00sec


    3hrs 40min 00sec

    4hrs 10min 00sec


    3hrs 55min 00sec

    4hrs 25min 00sec


    4hrs 10min 00sec

    4hrs 40min 00sec


    4hrs 25min 00sec

    4hrs 55min 00sec


    4hrs 40min 00sec

    5hrs 10min 00sec

    80 and over

    4hrs 55min 00sec

    5hrs 25min 00sec

  2. But wait! There’s more! It turns out that a lot more runners are making qualifying for the Boston Marathon their goal, so just running a qualifying time doesn’t guarantee you entry into the race. You can still claim to have qualified for Boston, but in 2015, you needed to run about 1:02 faster to gain entry. 1,947 runners ran a qualifying time, but didn’t make the cutoff. If you plan to participate in the Boston Marathon, you will need to take that into consideration.
  3. And, there is still more! The marathon you run to qualify for Boston has to be recognized by the Boston Athletic Association. Generally, the course needs to be certified by an organization such as USA Track & Field (USATF). The Top 25 Qualifying Races are:


    2015 DATE

    Boston Marathon

    April 20, 2015

    Chicago Marathon

    October 11, 2015*

    New York Marathon

    November 1, 2015*

    Philadelphia Marathon

    November 22, 2015*

    California International Marathon

    December 6, 2015*

    St. George Marathon

    October 3, 2015*

    Grandma's Marathon

    June 20, 2015

    Marine Corps Marathon

    October 25, 2015*

    Ottawa Marathon

    May 24, 2015

    Twin Cities Marathon

    October 4, 2015*

    Berlin Marathon

    September 27, 2015*

    Erie Marathon

    September 13, 2015

    Houston Marathon

    January 18, 2015

    Columbus Marathon

    October 18, 2015*

    Indianapolis Monumental Marathon

    November 7, 2015*

    Baystate Marathon

    October 18, 2015*

    Steamtown Marathon

    October 11, 2015*

    Toronto Waterfront Marathon

    October 18, 2015*

    Mountains 2 Beach Marathon

    May 24, 2015

    Richmond Marathon

    November 14, 2015*

    Lehigh Velley Marathon

    September 13, 2015

    Big Cottonwood Marathon

    September 12, 2015

    Portland Marathon

    October 4, 2015*

    Santa Rosa Marathon

    August 23, 2015

    Bayshore Marathon

    May 23, 2015

  4. How Hard Is It, Really? A gentleman by the name of Jim Fortner spent 700 hours per year analyzing 227 American marathons to answer that very question. On average, only 10.4 percent of marathon finishers achieve a Boston qualifying time. However, some age divisions are easier to qualify than others. The overall winning times for 2014 were Meb Keflezighi (38, CA) 2:08:37 and Rita Jeptoo (33, KEN) 2:18:57 (course record).
  5. So how do you get fast enough to qualify for the Boston Marathon? As the famous runner, Emil Zatopek of Czechoslovakia once stated, “Why should I practice running slow? I already know how to run slow. I want to learn to run fast.” The secret to running faster is to run fast. The takeaway message is you are going to have to do speed work. Finally, this speed work needs to be part of a structured plan and schedule, possibly devised by a personal coach.
  6. How do I plan for a Boston Marathon qualifying time attempt? Backward, that’s how. Based on the year you wish to race the Boston Marathon, pick a race that leaves you sufficient time to make another attempt. Make that race your “A” race. Then build your training plan backward from that race to where you are now in terms of fitness. If you haven’t raced in a while, running a 10K or half-marathon may be in order. Then determine if it is reasonable to achieve your goal in the amount of time available.
  7. What if I don’t make it? As you know, you need a certain amount of recovery time between marathons. Don’t run another marathon too close to the failed attempt because you are afraid of losing fitness. That is usually a recipe for injury and frustration.
  8. Are there tricks to achieving a Boston qualifying time? Yes! The older you are, the more it helps to be at the youngest end of your age division. Usually, it is easier to qualify in the 50-54 age category at age 50 than it is at age 54. Another idea is to do a race that has pace groups, where an experienced runner paces the group to a predetermined finish time.
  9. Are there risks involved? People don’t like to talk about it..not politically correct, but you ARE more likely to get injured attempting to run a fast marathon time. It is the nature of the beast; running faster and farther is much more likely to cause injury than jogging three times a week. Generally, the greater the reward, the greater the risk.
  10. So, what is even tougher than qualifying for the Boston Marathon? After Boston, qualifying for the Olympic Trials is the toughest running achievement. For the 2016 Olympic Trials Marathon, the men’s “A” standard is 2:15 and the “B” standard is 2:18 (or a 1:05 half-marathon). The women’s “A” standard is 2:37 and the “B” standard is 2:43 (or a 1:15 half-marathon). Obviously, actually qualifying for the Olympic Games and winning a gold medals is as good as it gets, that, or running a world record time!
So, to anyone who makes it their goal to run a qualifying time for the Boston Marathon, I wish you all the best! Stay healthy, run fast, and don’t suck! Next up will be articles on alternative footwear, shoes vs. inserts, cross training, training plans, nutrition, weight loss, and more!

    Be sure to check out the Stridetek Cross Trainer Orthotic Insole to keep you in correct biomechanics on your path to Boston! Click here to shop now!

    Larry LaHodny has a B.S. in Physical Education, with Emphasis in Sports Medicine from Willamette University and an M.B.A. from National University. Larry has over 20 years’ experience coaching runners, including at the youth, high school, and adult level. Larry has trained National Champions, All-Americans, State Champions, and Boston Marathon qualifiers.