It’s been an eventful two weeks since the Boston Bombings (a pretty dramatic understatement for the citizens of Boston). I went to Boston with a big group of runners, some were closer to the finish line than others, some were inconvenienced, some saw some things that will stay with them, but none of us were hurt. We were all lucky. We were shocked, we were sad and sickened by what happened and we were determined to go back in 2014 to show our support for a city which has done so much to support us over the years.
It was been two weeks and every runner I know who has ever run Boston and thinks they can still make the qualifying time (BQ) is determined to be there. People who have not run Boston in years are determined to go back. Everyone’s biggest concern about going is how tough is it going to be to get in next year. How fast will you really have to be?
Up until a few years ago, if you ran a marathon and made the qualifying time (BQ) you could register to run the Boston Marathon. For Boston 2010 registration opened in the fall and the race sold out before Christmas. For Boston 2011 registration opened at 10:00 am and the race was sold out before anyone who did not abuse the company computers got home from work. For the first time ever how fast you were on a keyboard trumped how fast you were on your feet. For Boston 2012 the BBA solved the problem by implementing a system where faster runners got to register first. The race sold out and some runners who had only just qualified (Amby Burfoot refers to them as BQ Squeakers -great term!) did not get in. For Boston 2013 they cut five minutes off all of the qualifying times and everyone who qualified and registered in the first month got in. The qualifying times for the 2014 race are the same as they were for the 2013 race.
I just finished reading Amby Burfoot’s take on this http://www.runnersworld.com/runners-stories/40943-14-days?cm_mmc=Twitter-_-RunnersWorld-_-Content-Blog-_-Footlondose2Weeks he suggests among other things, that the ideal solution would be for Boston to increase the field size next year (they did it for the 100th anniversary) and increase the number of charity bibs available so everyone can have a chance to run. He is much better qualified to comment and he makes a lot of great points, but here is my two cents worth. There is no question that the people of Boston and their support for the race make Boston so special but that is not the only reason Boston is special. Boston does have charity bibs available and they raise a lot of money but the majority of runners at the Boston Marathon get there because they qualified. It takes some people many years and many marathons to get that BQ. Qualifying for and running the Boston Marathon is the ultimate goal for many runners. We all want to see the field size increased for 2014 but the road is narrow and our hosts in Hopkinton and the other towns along the way will have to do even more for us if the field size is increased. That may be asking too much. The demand for spots for qualifying runners is going to be unprecedented in 2014. The age group field is going to be deep and fast. My request if possible… add enough spots to let the squeakers in. They are out there every weekend putting in the miles to achieve their dream and cross that finish line and that is part of what makes Boston great.