The Boston Marathon has tightened qualifying standards for the first time since 2013.

By Emily Caron
September 27, 2018

The Boston Marathon will get even more competitive come 2020 as race organizers announced that the qualifying standards will be five minutes faster for every age group. 

For the sixth year in a row, the race has had to turn away applicants who had met the 2019 qualifying time. Even though thousands of applicants met the posted standards, the race did not have room to admit all qualified runners. 2019 admitees had to be at least 4 minutes and 52 seconds faster than their qualifying standard, Boston Athletic Association (BAA) officials said on Thursday. Runners will have to be even faster in 2020.

The BAA reevaluates registration data and qualifying standards each year after analyzing applicant pools and admitted runner times. Race time requirements vary based on a runner’s age and gender. After 2019 applicants were admitted, adjustments were made to the qualifying time for 2020 for the first time since times were tightened for the 2013 race - which was also the last year that there was room for all qualifiers to register.

“We have adjusted the qualifying standards for the 2020 Boston Marathon, as the number of marathoners who have submitted applications to run the Boston Marathon has increased significantly during the most recent two registration years,” said Tom Grilk, BAA chief executive officer, in a press release. “We forecast the interest in running Boston as continuing. We know that the running community pays close attention to our qualifying times for their age group because they are important factors in their training, racing and race selection. As such, for the 2020 Boston Marathon, adjustments to all age group qualifying standards will be five minutes (5:00) faster than previous standards.”

The BAA uses a two-week long rolling registration process, with applcations open to the fastest runners during the first week, which was September 10 through 15. Runners who bettered their qualifying standard by more than 20 minutes were followed by those who were 10 minutes faster who were then followed by those who were 5 minutes faster. The field is capped at 30,000 runners.

If space remains in the field, registration continues for all runners who had met the posted time standard. The rest of the field gains entry by running for charities or through a different connection to the race.

The qualifying window for the 2020 Boston Marathon began on Saturday, September 15, 2018, and will continue through the conclusion of 2020 Boston Marathon registration next fall. The new qualifying standards will not apply to valid marathon times run at races between September 15, 2018 and this announcement.

Take a look at the 2020 qualifying times below: 

    Age                             Men's Times                           Women's Times

18-34

3hrs 00min 00sec

3hrs 30min 00sec

35-39

3hrs 05min 00sec

3hrs 35min 00sec

40-44

3hrs 10min 00sec

3hrs 40min 00sec

45-49

3hrs 20min 00sec

3hrs 50min 00sec

50-54

3hrs 25min 00sec

3hrs 55min 00sec

55-59

3hrs 35min 00sec

4hrs 05min 00sec

60-64

3hrs 50min 00sec

4hrs 20min 00sec

65-69

4hrs 05min 00sec

4hrs 35min 00sec

70-74

4hrs 20min 00sec

4hrs 50min 00sec

75-79

4hrs 35min 00sec

5hrs 05min 00sec

80+

4hrs 50min 00sec

5hrs 20min 00sec

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