Registration for the 2013 Boston Marathon remains open for qualified runners, slowing to a more comfortable pace two years after the race reached its limit for qualifiers in record time, and one year after organizers instituted a new entry process.
Boston Athletic Association executive director Thomas Grilk said the registration process “has created a feeling of more opportunity.” Race director Dave McGillivray called it a “win, win, win,” with runners, race managers, and the BAA benefiting.
With qualification standards lowered this year and slower finish times at the 2012 Marathon because of the heat, the BAA and organizers are not surprised registration has stretched into a third week. Out of roughly 21,500 places for qualified runners, approximately 2,000 remain. It’s likely the remaining spaces will be claimed as the fall marathon schedule starts. The BAA is accepting runners as they enter and get times verified. Unlike earlier in the registration process, there is no longer any preference given to faster runners.
“We didn’t know exactly how it would play out, but we knew we wanted it to be fair,” said Grilk. “That has been the touchstone of this whole [new registration process]. It was a two-year process where we confronted what happened when it all sold out in eight hours. How do we make it fair? And how do we do it in a way that gives people plenty of notice of how it’s going to work?”
These were the questions the BAA asked when the 2011 Marathon reached capacity for qualified entrants in 8 hours 3 minutes, smashing the previous record. The answers necessitated a new process and faster qualifying standards implemented over two years.
Last year, the BAA instituted rolling admission for qualifiers, with faster runners allowed to enter first. The same procedure remained in place when registration for the 2013 Marathon opened Sept. 10. Additionally, qualifying times were lowered this year by five minutes. After the 2013 race fills, Grilk said the BAA and race organizers will analyze the entry data.
As of yesterday, 18,300 qualified entries for the 2013 Marathon had been verified, including 16,600 who have entered during the registration period. With the process ongoing, there are hundreds of entries yet to be approved. Another 1,700 secured spots based on deferments issued at the 2012 race or on a high number of consecutive Boston Marathons run. Currently, 10,445 men and 7,855 women are entered.
Almost half (8,972) of the qualified entrants will be running Boston for the first time. Part of that may be due to how difficult it was to re-qualify at Boston this year. While 44 percent of finishers (10,433) re-qualified at the 2011 Marathon, 11 percent of finishers (2,387) re-qualified at the 2012 Marathon. Still, the 2013 field has fast credentials, with 53 percent of registrants besting their qualifying times by five minutes or more at various races, including 2,998 who ran 20 minutes or faster than their age and gender standard. Runners between the ages of 35 and 51 registered in the largest numbers.
“It couldn’t have played out any better,” said McGillivray. “Everyone who qualified and wanted to enter, got in. And we still remain open. That’s a good thing, too. We wanted to have this system in place for two years. We’ll be able to . . . determine going forward if the way we set it up is the perfect system now or do we tweak it.”Shira Springer can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.