Thursday, October 21, 2010

BAA responds to unprecedented marathon registration

Boston Marathon Executive Director Guy Morse is in a 8 minute clip on the BAA website explaining some of the events that occurred on Monday the 18th when registration for the marathon closed in an unprecedented single day. Questions remain about 2012:

  • What is more "fair", having lots of people qualify but only a fraction get to run or fewer qualifiers and everyone can run?
  • Can you do a hybrid qualifying time + lottery and would that diminish the cachet of the race?
  • Is it possible to increase the field, and what does this do to the quality of the "Boston experience"?


  1. Dave - You hit the nail on the head with your three questions! Regarding which, pending the BAA's eventual decision regarding almost certain changes for the 2012 race (which I hope to run after two great experiences in 2009-2010) I hope that the running community coalesces upon a consensus.

    In that regard, though risking being excluded I feel that in lieu of adopting a hybrid qualification + lottery system that Boston should instead further strengthen its unique position as the only world-class marathon whose tough qualification standards define the most dedicated and strongest of runners. Accordingly, I feel that the qualification standards should be uniformly tightened - though on a more rational basis as outlined in the RW article:,7124,s6-239-506-0-13111-0,00.html

    For sake of fairness individuals who under the current rules have *already* Boston Qualified for the 2012 race (i.e. those who already have - or soon might qualify on or after 10/1/10) should be 'grandfathered' on a one-time only basis, and thus retain their qualification regardless of the new standards which might be adopted.

    Additionally, as regards whether increasing the Boston runner count might diminish the Boston experience I feel that through more rigorous exclusion of the ridiculously numerous 'bandit' marathoners the course could safely take-on 5,000 additional runners with absolutely no changes, or 15,000 more through adding a third wave with each wave separated by 45 versus the current 30-minutes.

    Dave - How do you answer your three questions?

  2. Thanks Mark, that Runner's World article is both excellent and enlightening.

    In my opinion, I think having more qualify than can run is less fair and as such, I would favor tighter times over a hybrid, even though it likely means I wouldn't qualify again.

    I agree with you and think that tighter BQ's would keep it a premier achievement for amateur runners.

    Having not been to Boston yet, I can't really opine on bandits there specifically, but, at a minimum, bandits consume the time, energy, and resources of the volunteers, police, and medical personnel staffing the race without paying their fair share. If the numbers of bandits are really that bad, then it's obviously also detracting from the experience of those who secure an official entry through qualifying or charity, not to mention the space they occupy which could be taken by a paying, qualifying runner.

  3. 20% for non-qualifiers (sponsored runners)
    40% for automatic qualifiers (with much stricter qualifying times)
    40% lotto-based (using existing qualifying times)

    Bandits should be shot on sight.