By: Mitch Hughes
Though the 119th Boston Marathon is roughly seven months away, it is already beginning to make headlines. The registration was only open for a ten-day window, September 13 to the 23, and this ten-day window is one of the most selective registrations of any road race on Earth.
This year the event is becoming even more selective, as officials at the Boston Athletic Association predict that there will be 3,000 fewer runners than the previous race. The registration for the 2016 race was set up that runners who had times twenty minutes or faster than their qualifying time would get priority entry, followed by runners with times ten and five minutes faster. With those runners taking up nearly 19,000 of the 24,000 spots for qualifying runners, only about 5,000 spots remain for those who ran their qualifying times.
As someone who has attempted to qualify for Boston, I have experienced firsthand how difficult it is to even run a qualifying time for the race. Even though I wasn’t old enough to qualify at the time of my marathon, I didn’t come even close to running the qualifying time for the closest age group, which is a 3:05:00 (7:00 mile pace). Considering how immensely difficult it is to even run a Boston qualifying time, it’s incredible how many people who are able to run rather elite qualifying times will not get to take place in one of the most celebrated running events around the world.
Of course this apparent exclusivity in race entry will raise questions concerning the integrity of famous road races such as Boston, but even one of the largest races on the planet has its limits. Terrible occurrences, such as the bombing at the 116th Boston Marathon in 2013, have shown that having the streets of Boston too crowded is a bad thing. Nonetheless the honor of being selected to race paired with the unique atmosphere of the oldest yearly marathon in the world will unite runners from all across the globe in their dream of crossing that hallowed finish line.