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You had to be a really fast runner to get into the 2021 Boston Marathon

Workers painted the Boston Marathon finish line last month.Jessica Rinaldi/Globe Staff

Runners hoping to get into the 2021 Boston Marathon needed to be 7 minutes, 47 seconds faster than the qualifying standard for their age group to get into the Oct. 11 race, the Boston Athletic Association announced Tuesday.

The BAA, which has begun to notify qualified applicants of their acceptance or non-acceptance, was unable to include 9,215 qualifiers because the field size is being limited to 20,000 entrants to ensure social distancing throughout the race route, especially at the start and finish.

Runners with the fastest qualifying times are allowed to register first, and there were 14,609 runners who were at least 7:47 faster than their age group qualifying standard or achieved a qualifying time and have run between 10 and 24 consecutive Boston Marathons.


The rest of the field will be made up of those running for charity/nonprofit organizations and invitational entries, including the elite runner field.

It's going to be even harder for runners to be a part of the 2021 Boston Marathon.Byun, Yoon S. Globe Staff

“As we embark on the return to in-person racing, we look forward to welcoming runners to Boston as part of our historic 125th running of the Boston Marathon this fall,” said BAA president and CEO Tom Grilk. “With this year’s milestone anniversary, we both celebrate those who were accepted into this year’s race and also acknowledge the many runners who achieved qualifying times. We look forward to a memorable 125th Boston Marathon and hope those who were not accepted into the in-person race will join the global community of athletes participating in the virtual race in October.”

The 2020 Boston Marathon had a field size of 31,500 before it was canceled because of the coronavirus pandemic, and 3,161 qualified runners were not accepted. Runners needed to be 1 minute, 39 seconds faster than the qualifying standard for their age to gain entry to the 2020 race.

While qualifying times used to enter the 2020 marathon remained valid for registration for the 2021 race, some runners who were originally accepted to the 2020 race were turned away from the 2021 event because of the reduction in field size.


Qualified applicants not admitted into the in-person race have an opportunity to register for a virtual Boston Marathon until May 14. Registration for the virtual race began on March 30 and has already seen athletes from 105 countries and all 50 states register. The virtual marathon will take place over race weekend Oct. 8–10.

The BAA said the qualifying window for the 2022 Boston Marathon will be Sept. 1, 2019 “through the conclusion of the to-be-announced 2022 Boston Marathon registration period later this fall.”

Follow Andrew Mahoney on Twitter @GlobeMahoney.