Boston Q Talks

The recent controversy regarding registration for the 2011 Boston Marathon continues to dominate a number of Internet forums. If you do not know the story, here is a small snapshot of what transpired on October 18th, 2010:

Great news: The Boston Athletic Association has granted entry to runners who had technical difficulties while trying to register for the 2011 Boston Marathon online on October 18.

Not-so-great news: If you had technical problems and haven’t already been in contact with the B.A.A., you’re out of luck.

Registration for Boston 2011 closed in just over 8 hours — the fastest fill-up in event history. Organizers had been advising runners to sign up early; runners, in turn, had started hearing whispers that the race would fill in one day. When registration opened at 9 a.m. on October 18, many runners reported problems with the online sign-up portal. Fortunately, the B.A.A. stepped in.

B.A.A. spokesman Jack Fleming said via e-mail that early last week, his organization “communicated with people who we identified as having tried to register but who failed on October 18 while online registration was open. These people know who they are, and we have been in direct communication with them.” see full story here.

As I noted on a previous post, I suspected registration was going to fill quickly. Though, I thought it would take at least a week — not 8 hours. As I arrived on campus that day, I sat in front of my computer waiting to register, though it did take me a number of attempts. In the end, a number of qualified runners got shut out of this event. On one forum, a runner made this comment that had me laughing. Let us see if you get the humor.

Dear Boston Athletic Association:

I really tried to win last year. I promise. My plan was to take the lead in the Newton Hills and then ride the wave all the way to the finish line. Unfortunately my plan did not work, my legs seemed to encounter some sort of technic…al difficulty. I can prove this. Could you please declare me the winner? ; ) !!

There are whispers that BAA will tighten the qualifying standards; I suspect this will have the biggest impact on women between the ages of 18 – 39. There are those that find their times to be too lenient; I on the other hand differ on this. Though females have a body composition that is more conducive to the rigors of long runs, they also have to deal with elements such as rebounding from child labor and other factors in terms of mass. There are those that will point to folks like Paula Radcliff and discuss her return without taking a big break after giving birth. Oh, she is pregnant again.

Above: Kara Goucher & Paula

Above: Post-baby Paula

Of course, we must keep in mind that these ladies are Pro runners. There full-time job is running. That is not the case for 99% of us. As stated in one article:

But there’s another possible reason for the surging demand—one that has the potential to kick up a fair amount of controversy. It’s the notion that the qualifying standards for women are too soft.

By all accounts, the running boom is being fueled by women more than men. Women made up 42% of finishers in the 2010 Boston race—a proportion that is higher than the percentage of all U.S. marathoners who are women. But according to gender rules instituted in 1977, the marathon times women need to post to qualify for Boston are 30 minutes slower than the times the men in the same age group have to run. The problem: There’s no evidence that women really need that much extra time.

…but this boom is not going away. I think this is a positive thing. People such as myself and others seeking to live better is only good for society. There is a chance that all race standards will be lowered. This is not a problem for me; I am looking to compete at a level that far exceeds Boston’s goal. I am motivated b

Here are the current qualifying times; I think most people do not realize the difficulty of completing a marathon. There are so many things that can go wrong. I am proud of what I have done and what I hope to do, but I am also proud of the many that take on the “everyman’s Everest,” regardless of time. It is a great accomplishment and achievement to not only finish such an audacious event, but to take the time to train for it. There is a reason “real” runners believe in the concept of “finishers.” I hope this post is one of motivation to many runners out there that are seeking personal goals. In the end, the marathon is not the ultimate event when it comes to running. In truth, I much prefer half-marathons. But, I despise the intensity of 5k runs.
Boston Marathon
Qualifying Standards
Age Men Women
18–34 3hrs 10min 3 hrs 40min
35–39 3hrs 15min 3 hrs 45min
40–44 3hrs 20min 3 hrs 50min
45–49 3hrs 30min 4 hrs 00min
50–54 3hrs 35min 4 hrs 05min
55–59 3hrs 45min 4 hrs 15min
60–64 4hrs 00min 4 hrs 30min
65–69 4hrs 15min 4 hrs 45min
70–74 4hrs 30min 5 hrs 00min
75–79 4hrs 45min 5 hrs 15min
80+ 5hrs 00min 5 hrs 30min

7 thoughts on “Boston Q Talks

  1. ugh, you are soooooooo right, that is NOT a normal “recovery” from childbirth! well, maybe if you’re super in shape and only have one. i am absolutely green right now. flat out, green-eyed jealous.

    BUT, i wouldn’t trade a single one of my 9 babies to have her body….. they are worth every stretch mark and extra fat roll.

  2. I think the marathon is the ultimate test of the mind and the body- that is what makes it such a challenge. To the previous comments.. these women are super athletes, that is their job- they run. When your body is accustomed to the training, it desires the activity and being pregnant does keep one from training. I can understand making qualifying times less, to “lighten the load” at Boston. I have read articles that many women themselves consider the time difference between men and women excessive, and support a change in Boston qualifying times. Whatever the outcome, the fact that more people are getting involved in running is a great benefit. Not only will they be more healthy, but charities will benefit from the increase. I say run on..regardless..

  3. I understand science and body fat and ovulation. That too is my point, when running is your career you have trainers and dietitians that make sure those things can occur. Those women aren’t malnourished or skinny- they are athletic. Athletic women, under the care of doctors,can and do ovulate and become pregnant safely.

  4. I am with you Oliver. Running has made a big difference in my life and how I view being healthy. grant it, I could eat a little better, but that is all part of the master goal. Those two women are the best at what they do. They are two of my favs.

    Interesting study showed that women who exercise while pregnant tend to go through labor better. And, they tend to drop the post-preg weight easier.

    Kara Goucher has a great blog and pics her new baby here:

  5. Oy. I suppose being a biochemist is of no use here. Yes, exercise helps with labor, but your body literally stops working if you are under a certain body fat percentage. Now, that percentage is different for everyone, but there’s a survival instinct built in that keeps woman from ovulating, among other things. I can link to studies too, but I shall stop. I’m going home from work early today and I’d rather get everything done.

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