Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Talk of the Town

The talk of the town today, or at least the talk of this house, has to do with the BAA announcing there will be new qualifying standards for the Boston Marathon. These new standards start with a rolling admission for the 2012 marathon and new times and a rolling admission beginning for the 2013 race.

The article can be found here.

Here's basically what I got from the article. In 2012, (really, September 2011) if you ran 20 minutes or faster than your qualifying time, you get in first. If you ran 10 minutes or faster than the qualifying time, you get in three days later. And if you ran 5 minutes or faster than the qualifying time, you get in five days later. If the field has not filled after the first week of registration, it will open to everyone else who has qualified. BUT, the BAA will select the fastest runners from that pool to fill out the remaining slots. So if you were right on the cusp of qualifying, you may not make it in. Then in 2013, the rolling admission remains but all qualifying times get tougher by five minutes. So if you're qualifying time was 3:40 (ladies under 34 years old), the qualifying time will now be 3:35.

Let me pull out my soapbox for a minute....

I have no problem with redoing the qualifying times. I totally agree with that, at least for the ladies. Not that a 3:40 is soft, but a tougher time was needed. I do have a problem, though, with the rolling admission. If the BAA really wanted the fastest people then why not change the qualifying standards to 20 minutes quicker? So instead of a 3:40 or 3:35, why wouldn't it be a 3:20 or 3:15? I feel like the BAA is saying, it's nice that you qualified but you're still not fast enough. Even if you qualified, no matter what your time, there's no guarantee you'll get in even if you apply. Plus, it changes the landscape of all marathons. In my opinion, there will be no reason for pace teams anymore. The Columbus Marathon always has a HUGE group that runs with the 3:40 pace team. Mostly women, they're all trying to get to Boston. But if a 3:40 or 3:35 doesn't necessarily get you into Boston, why run with the pace group? What pace group would you choose if there's no real qualifying time? And, why run a challenging marathon even if you know you can qualify there, when you need to find a flat, potentially boring one, to get the fastest time you can?

For me, this adds fuel to the fire. I know I can qualify with a 3:40 or 3:35. I've done it before; I'll do it again. But for me, I really want to point my middle finger to the BAA and say "you want your 3:20? I'll give you the 3:20." Lucky or unfortunately, I get to qualify for 2012 and 2013 as a 34 year old. (In 2012 it's on April 16th--my birthday. In 2013 it's on April 15th--one day before my 35th birthday.)

So what are your thoughts on the Boston Marathon announcement today?

(You can ready my husband's thoughts here. He's really happy.)

11 comments:

Joel said...

You know, I read the changes. I can totally see why folks would be frustrated. I just don't have skin in the game. I'd have to run 3:15, and I'm not sure that is humanly possible for me. That said, I do get why folks are stirred up about it.

Jeff - DangleTheCarrot said...

I like the changes. IMO, I think the women's times should have dropped even more and that probably would have taken care of the need to even have rolling admissions.

I do like that the BAA a least made a decision and did it quickly. Most large sanctioning bodies are so afraid at offending people nowadays that they usually make things easier and less competitive - like not keeping score in kids sports, screw that!

At least they did what was best for the reputation of the Marathon. It is for the elites and they have taken measures to ensure it will stay that way.

Meredith said...

While I agree with your first two points, Jeff, I do not agree with the last. The Olympic trials and World Championships are elite races. The Boston Marathon cannot be used to qualify for the Olympic trials not can it be used to set any world records. And because the London marathon is always held the same weekend or close to the same weekend as Boston, most elite runners are going to run that one because it's fast and draws a bigger elite field. The Boston Marathon is for mortals who achieve something great.

Caratunk Girl said...

I no problems with the change in BQ times, but the rolling thing where you BQ sort of but might not get in is kind of crappy in IMO.

But on second thought, I guess they had to do something like that for BQ 2012 because some folks have already BQ'd for that race...so you can't take that away from them by changing the times after their BQ race...I don't know. Personally, I would like a number to shoot for that gets me in.

Great points in your comment to Jeff BTW.

Melissa C said...

I am totally fine with the changes, AND my main goal for 2011 is to qualify for Boston. I figured a rule change was coming, and have been training to hopefully be a bit faster than the 3:40 time. I am glad I have a spring marathon on the schedule, b/c my typical race to run (Detroit, Columbus) are both well after the dates for entering for 2012. If I run a 3:40 and don't get in, I guess I wasn't fast enough, which is fine. The faster people should have first dibs in order to keep in an elite race. I am curious to see what if anything they will do about charity runners. I would love to see them have to qualify too, as apprx 20% of the field last year was charity. I am all for raising money for charities (and have done it for St. Jude's Heroes 2x now, but never to get a bib), but I think you should still have to qualify. Perhaps this could be the option for people with the slower times. You can get in, BUT, you have to raise funds for a charity.
I may actually add a second marathon to my spring schedule as a result of this announcement. Keep my one as planned, at the pace I am expecting to run, and then run another about a month later just to see if I can improve my time. It's been to long since I have run a marathon to do something crazy with everything I have put in so far. I don't want to screw that up.

Kim said...

i knew it was coming. i agree with the time changes but i do not agree with the registration... but neither affect me in any sort of way.

man the comments on the www.boston.com article are crazy. people suggest holding the marathon on two days - one for elites, one for "slow" people. some suggest cutting charity runners out. it's absolutely nuts.

Colleen said...

I agree with the time change, not so much the registration process. I don't know... telling someone you need a 3:35 to qualify is one thing, but if you qualify, they shouldn't say, but you didn't qualify by enough. It's like changing the rules after the fact.

Won't affect me until I'm 80 anyway I guess! :)

Betsy said...

I guess I kind of agree with the registration changes. There aren't enough spots for everyone who even qualifies....if there is qualifying times there should be recognition of those who are even faster. another way to go about it would be to have so many spots per qualifying race and top finishers get those spots - like how Ironman is done.

I can definitely see why it's controversial and if I ever qualified I would be on the bubble and probably wouldn't get in with the new process....

Ryan Oilar said...

Looks like I'll have to go pretty quick in 2013! Sub 3hr... :) That'll be fun.

Velma said...

Change the time - fine. Change the registration system - dumb. It doesn't really matter to me as I am going to focus on tris, but I think that this is going to be a lot of bad PR. People will want to run it - no matter what.

Kiersten said...

I agree that changing the qualifying times is reasonable, but it seems unfair to someone who meets the qualifying time by 5 minutes that they won't know whether they can get in or not. As someone who would love to run a sub 4 marathon, I might have been able to make 3:40, but won't ever get close now. Which is ok with me.