Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Boston Marathon

As most of you have probably heard, the Boston Marathon sold out within eight hours of opening its registration this year. That, in turn, has got a lot of us nervous as the spectre of the qualification times being tightened up has the potential to put it out of reach. Right now I'm looking at a 3:10:59 standard that I have to beat to make it in. That's certainly within the realm of possibilities, but it is near the razors edge of my capacity and pushing that up to 3:05 or even 3:00 would be a real problem.

Part of the allure of this race is that it's qualification standards are hard enough that it requires a major effort to achieve them, but at the same time they are within reach of many runners. Getting to that goal is a significant achievement in and of itself, and is a strong drive for many marathoners to keep running races and reach for that holy grail.

I personally know a couple of dozen people who have qualified and run this race, and their stories do a lot to inspire me to push hard enough to get there myself. Unfortunately, the vast majority of them have done so by a close margin, and I don't know of any that were 5 minutes or more beyond that point. Pushing the standards too high would make it harder for people to hear those personal experiences, and take away a lot of the drive to work towards that goal.

With that said, I'd much rather not get in because I wasn't able to run fast enough than because I didn't click my mouse fast enough ;) I can't even imagine what it would be like to work for years to get a BQ time and then miss out because I didn't have access to a computer on the day registration opened. Given the logistical challenges of getting people out to Hopington I don't imagine that adding more spots is realistic, so something has to be done to cut down the number of people registering. There are a few things that could be done to save a few more spaces (eg cutting down the number of slots for non-qualified runners), but given the 8 hour sellout I doubt that would be much of a long term solution.

As much as I'd hate for it to happen, from a fairness point of view tougher standards seem to be the best solution to that. When spaces are finite for a prestigious race like this, it only makes sense that they should go to the strongest runners first. Regardless, I'm keeping my fingers crossed that they find a more creative solution to the problem. If they don't, then I might have to knock getting a qualifying time off of my list of long term goals as I don't really think that running a 3:05 marathon is in the cards for me regardless of how hard I train :(

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