When you’re a runner, it’s easy to become obsessed by numbers. Your weekly mileage, the split times of your latest PB, even the wind speed. Now there’s a new one. Or rather, a revised one.
The new Boston Qualifying (BQ) time for women aged 18-34.
For a long time, the number ingrained in my brain was 3.45. Having been rejected from the London marathon ballot 6 times, it felt like hitting that good for age standard was the only way I was ever going to win a place on the start line. It took me 2 years to pluck up the courage to give it a go, and when I entered Edinburgh this spring, I was purely hoping to sneak through in 3.44. I still don’t know how I crossed the finish line in 3.38, but I was ecstatic, not to mention completely shocked. Approximately ten minutes later, a new dream was born.
My BQ dream, is less than 5 months old, but it’s quickly become an obsession. So, when Boston marathon lowered the good for age time from 3.35 to 3.30 last week, I took a deep breath and realised that actually, it doesn’t change anything.
Even though the good for age (GFA) time has been 3.35 for the last few years, the reality is that you’ve had to run progressively closer to 3.30 to actually get a place. I think last year was nearer sub 3.31. For that reason, my heart was already set on a sub 3.30. If, like me, you’re the kind of runner who can’t stop their watch at 5.98 miles when your supposed to be doing 6, then I’m sure you’ll also appreciate the allure of running sub 3.30 as opposed to sub 3.35!
As one of the six Abbott World Marathon Majors, Boston is unique in the sense that, as a rule, you have to run a qualifying time to enter. I know that it’s a divisive approach, but I secretly love how elusive this makes it. Boston is the oldest, continuously running marathon in the world and somehow, having to qualify makes it even more prestigious.
All of the six majors have good for age qualifying times, and comparatively Boston sits bang in the middle.
Chicago- sub 3.45
London- sub 3.45
Boston- sub 3.30
Tokyo- sub 3.30
New York- sub 3.13 or sub 1.32 half
Berlin- sub 3.00
(These times are for 30 year old females)
The more I’ve thought about it, I have no problems with the new qualifying standards. The only thing I do wish, is that those times gave you a guaranteed entry. The trend is that posting a qualifying time purely allows you an opportunity to enter the good for age ballot. I know how proud I was to have hit the London standard, not to mention how much hard work went into it. I can only imagine how devastated I’d have felt to have had that taken away from me at the last minute.
The bottom line though, is that the faster you run, the more chance you have. And when you think about it, that is the only thing you can control. So, really, Boston changing the goalposts doesn’t change anything. My plan is to knuckle down and then full steam ahead. I’m going to work as hard as I can through the winter and then run my socks off in London. If that’s fast enough, then I will be over the moon. But either way, working on getting quicker is the only think I can do. After all, the times set by the big races are just an arbitrary number to control their entry figures.
Don’t get me wrong, I’m going to give this my ALL, but Boston dropping their qualifying times hasn’t changed that. I’m going after a sub 3.30 with everything I’ve got. Not just because it’s the time Boston have set, but because I want to be a better runner. A faster runner. And most importantly, I want to feel proud of what I have achieved.
How do you feel about the new qualification rules? Has it changed anything for you?