Sell Outs

The 2011 Boston Marathon sold out in eight hours. WTF?!?

This graphic greeted aspiring Boston marathon applicants as of 5:03pm ET today.
The Boston Marathon sold out today in just over eight hours and likely would have sold out sooner had it not been for widespread problems with the website’s registration form. This from baa.org:

Registration for the 2011 Boston Marathon Has Closed
BOSTON, Mass. – Registration for the 115th Boston Marathon began at 9:00 a.m. today, and closed at 5:03 p.m. The Boston Marathon — the world’s oldest and most prestigious annual marathon — will take place on Monday, April 18, 2011, Patriots’ Day in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. In 115 years, this is the fastest period of time in which the field size limit has been reached… Click for more

There was great furor around the web earlier this year after a spoof Boston Athletic Association website appeared online — on April 1 — which showed that Boston Qualifying times had been lowered by ten minutes across the board (the BAA’s lawyers weren’t amused). It seemed crazy to some at the time, but is raising the standard of qualified participants any more crazy than having the one of the most prestigious races in the world sell out in eight hours? What does it say about the once-vaunted BQ when 21,000 people are lined up ready to go before night falls on Hopkinton? The spoof site certainly had me thinking about the BQ standards back in April, but now I’m stumped for other ways of slowing the stampede of applicants.

I’d thought that perhaps they should scale back the number of charity spots and give those to qualifiers, but there really aren’t that many charity runners and charity groups do play an important role for the BAA.

Maybe they should scale back the 18-month qualification window and thereby eliminate the two-year eligibility for fall marathons? Seems like a no-brainer to me, but that might delay the inevitable only a few more hours. It’s always struck me unfair that someone could run a certain downhill marathon in California and be eligible to run in the following two Boston Marathons, but someone who actually re-qualified at Boston could only use that time for the following year.

I know I’ll get some dirty looks from members of my marathon clinic, but it seems to me like it’s time to raise the bar and make Boston a little harder to get into.

FURTHER READING

Check out former Boston Athletic Association communications manager, Marc Chalufour’s article “Boston, We Have a Problem” on runningtimes.com.

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2 Comments

  1. I agree with you Dave!I don’t know the best way to say it, but I think the times should be lowered. I admit I barely squeezed in my first time round, and took full advantage of it, but in the end I kind of wished it was harder. All said, I am glad I set my alarm to register early this year!

  2. Yes, the only real, useful answer is lowering the standards. Silly for a 2:40 marathoner to be beat into the event by a 3:10’er, just because he/she didn’t have as good web access. Clear qualifiers should have a few days to “leisurely” apply, with reasonable confidence of getting in. If the BAA wants to allocate X spots to a lottery, I am OK with that too. Clear qualifiers shouldn’t be strung through a problematic web “competition” too. Leave the competitions for the clearly competitive runners on the roads.

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