February 19, 2011

Boston & Bike Trainers

We all knew it was coming, and this past Wednesday the B.A.A. finally announced the changes it will be making to the prestigious Boston Marathon. While I wasn't anywhere close to qualifying for Boston anytime soon, this is a big issue in the running world and I wanted to share my two cents. Thanks to registration for the 2011 race selling out in a  record 8-hours, many began to consider whether it was time for more stringent qualifying standards and a more structured registration process. So what do the new changes have in store for runners?
While the qualifying standards will remain the same for the 2012 Boston Marathon, the B.A.A. will be instituting a new rolling registration process. Starting in September, registration will open on a "rolling admission" schedule which is as follows:
•  Sep 12: runners with a BQ -20 minutes
•  Sep 14: runners with a BQ -10 minutes
•  Sep 16: runners with a BQ -5 minutes
If additional space remains...
•  Sep 19: all runners with a BQ (the fastest among this pool of applicants will be chosen)

So what does this new registration mean? Well, unlike in the past, it may not be enough to simply BQ. Unless you run a marathon significantly faster than your BQ time, there is a good chance Boston will fill up with faster runners before you have a chance to register. I agree that this will undoubtedly make the field of the Boston Marathon more competitive, but at the same time it leaves so much uncertainty and takes away the joy of that BQ moment so many work their butts off for. Now, you have to settle for a "tentative BQ".

The following year even more changes will take effect. In addition to the rolling registration, the B.A.A. has also lowered the qualifying times for both genders and all age groups. The new qualifying times have been lowered by 5 minutes and unlike previous years, an additional 59 seconds will not be accepted. The new qualifying times, as of September 24, 2011, are as follows:
I know that many runners have complained for a while that Boston needed tougher qualifying times, especially since the number of marathoners continues to grow and more and more of these "average" runners BQ. Many have also questioned the 30 minute discrepancy between male and female qualifying standards, particularly that the women have it too easy. Honestly, I can't really speak on just how challenging any of these times are as I am not even close to qualifying, even with the old standards. However, I will say that when you take into consideration the rolling registration, it's gonna make it a hell of a lot harder to run Boston than just shaving off 5 more minutes. For example, if an 18-34 year old male wants to have guaranteed entry on the first day of registration, he would need to run a 2:45 marathon! I don't know about you, but I don't know very many guys that will be running that anytime soon.

It logically makes sense that as more people run marathons, more people will qualify for and want to run Boston, but that doesn't necessarily make the old standards any easier to reach. I would be willing to bet that it wasn't a giant increase in qualifiers from 2009 to 2010 that flooded the registration for the 2011 race; it was our own forecasting, spreading the rumor that it was going to sell out quickly, causing thousands of runners to freak out and register immediately. So are either of these solutions going to be effective? I guess only time will tell, but I certainly see some flaws in the new system.

And while Boston is certainly a prestigious and historic race, it is not a race for elite runners. It's a marathon for the everyday runner that works hard and achieves a goal that for many is the ultimate running achievement. Even a former Boston Marathon winner isn't on board with the new changes, instead proclaiming that Boston "should be the ultimate annual celebration of running." So yes, maybe things did need to change. But I can only hope that the B.A.A. doesn't forget that it's those regular runners and their dreams that make the Boston Marathon what it is.


Moving on.... Since I was sick this past week I didn't get much running in. I was planning to go out on Thursday, but Mother Nature had other plans and I was not about to go run in a storm. So instead, I spent an entire hour trying to set up my bike trainer (oh ya know, the one I got for Christmas and had yet to use?), watching this YouTube video over and over. Just as I was reduced to yells of frustration I figured it out, and after a few tweaks courtesy of my dad I was ready to go! It was a lot more challenging than I expected (ummm maybe because I haven't rode since summer?). Actually though, with a fluid trainer, the harder you pedal the more resistance you get, so it's not quite the same as riding out doors. I managed to get through a few episodes of Friends for a total of 15 miles before collapsing in a sweaty heap. And in case you forgot, because I seemed to, the bike seat is just as uncomfortable as before and will leave you with a sore tush long after the workout is over!
all set up and ready for a spin!

What do you guys think about the changes to Boston? Was it about time or are you bummed?

1 comment:

  1. I am okay with the changes but I do see your point. There will no longer be that excitement from BQing. The tentative BQ doesn't feel like quite the same achievement. I didn't realize the standards didn't allow for the 59 seconds anymore! I guess my time no longer qualifies! Wow. Look at that. :)