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 :(