Every year, Boston hosts the world’s oldest consecutively-held marathon. This prestigious event brings participants and spectators from around the world. To qualify for the Boston Marathon, athletes need to submit an official net time that meets or exceeds the cut-off for their age and gender bracket. However, meeting the standard does not guarantee a spot.
First, runners must complete a certified marathon held during the qualifying window. If the net/chip time meets the qualifications for your age and gender bracket, then you may register. However, the marathon only accepts a set number of applicants per group. So, if registrants exceed the field size limitations, the Boston Athletic Association (BAA) selects the fastest among that groups to participate.
Can anyone participate in the Boston Marathon?
The Boston Marathon is open to all runners 18 years of age and older. That means everyone has a chance to compete. If you’ve got the will and drive to meet the qualifying requirements, you can enter. Register online at the BAA website.
The qualifying window for the Boston Marathon opens in September, two years before the race. For example, the window for the 2023 race started on September 1, 2021, and the one for 2024 began on September 1, 2022. Then registration takes place a year later. During that time, runners can register if they achieve a qualifying time at any certified event held within that time frame.
In any race, the first person who crosses the finish line is the winner. When it comes to qualifying, what matters is your pace. Many races will give each runner a Chip Time (Net Time) from when they cross the start mats to the finish mats. Your Chip Time matters if you want to qualify for the Boston Marathon. The BAA website lists qualifying times by age and gender.
Your Chip Time needs to be from a certified event to count. So, you’ll want marathons certified by the USA Track & Field (USATF) or The Association of International Marathons and Distance Races (AIMS). It also must be a marathon-length event — half-marathons don’t count. You can find events on the USATF and AIMS calendars.
Field Size Limitations
The BAA allows a limited number of runners. If there are too many registrants, they restrict the field size with a cut-off time. So, those with the shortest time are more likely to get in. For example, in 2021, the BAA ended up excluding 9,215 runners who originally qualified. However, in 2022, they accepted all runners with valid times.
Qualify for the Boston Marathon
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