Qualifying For The Boston Marathon

As you know, my mom and I went to Boston this year to watch the marathon. It was amazing and so inspirational. We vowed we’d be back to run it one day! We will work to qualify, even if it will take a few years to do so.


I was looking through the forums on LetsRun, and came across one about the Boston Marathon. Here is what someone commented:

I used to feel honored to wear my BAA Marathon shirt. Now, many others I see are “charity” runners. People who raise $$. Most are 5-6 hour marathoners. I know this is old news. But, is there any race left that is a qualifier race?
Maybe they can give the charity runners a different shirt?

This is one of those things where I can see both sides, but am not sure how I feel. I mean, I know that I personally want to work towards a qualifying time. Mainly, because I love a good challenge, and I love that feeling of accomplishment that comes with completing a goal. Though, I do think that if it wasn’t realistic for us to qualify in the future, we’d consider running for charity. We ran the NYC Marathon for charity, and it was a great experience.

This comment also touches upon the “time issue” when it comes to marathons. Just because people run 5-6 hour marathons (my first was 5:20), does that make us any less of a marathoner? I’d love to run a 3-4 hour marathon but if I can only run 4:50 right now, why should that count against me?

I do understand the concept of qualifying for the Boston Marathon. It’s prestigious and many runners view it as the “Holy Grail” of marathons. Many work for years to get that BQ. So should charity runners be “allowed?” I mean…I think so. These runners are committing themselves to raising thousands for charity, and running 26.2 miles for a cause. Isn’t that great? I’m glad other people commented basically telling this person they are wrong, and that if they want to run a race solely based on qualifying time, then they should be working towards the Olympic Trials :-)

Anyway, I guess the point of this post is: Should marathoners be bothered by charity runners? As this comment said, should they get different shirts/jackets? Does it really matter?

What are your thoughts? Have you ever ran the Boston Marathon? Or ran for a charity?


Follow Reach Your Peak:

Share this article!


  1. I agree with you whole heartedly. I hate the elitist attitude that some people project into sports.

    I primarily race triathlons and there is the same heated topic over the Kona Ironman World Championship race. Over 2000 of the athletes qualify, but around 200 are allowed in via lottery or the legacy program. Die hard Ironman fanatics look down on those who get in any other way other than qualifying. It’s the Holy Grail of triathlon and not everyone will ever qualify, hell I never will. But does that mean someone else’s 17 hour race down to the last second on the clock is any less worthy than those who finish sooner?

    Good luck on your quest to BQ. I’ll be cheering for you whether your running because you qualified or run for charity!
    Courtney @The TriGirl Chronicles recently posted…Mussel Up!My Profile

    • Aw thank you so much! We will see how long it takes me to get there haha. And I agree with you, the elitist attitude is the worst. Who cares about time? We are all still training and getting out there/getting it done.

  2. I understand both sides as well. I think when races like the Boston have such a long standing history then it should be limited to those who qualify. It does seems to water down the field a bit….not to punish those that don’t qualify just to keep the tradition of being more of an “elite” marathon. But then again….I’m not a runner. If I was a marathoner I wouldn’t even sniff that qualifying time so who am I to judge :)
    Annie Brees recently posted…Q & A Running for BeginnersMy Profile

  3. This is a really great post! I’m going to be honest here: as a super slow runner, I do appreciate the fact that there is a way to run Boston without qualifying. That doesn’t mean I will ever do it though. I do know that there is probably a 0% chance of me ever qualifying for Boston, but if I could ever run it for charity I think I’d be the happiest girl on earth, even if I got a shirt that was different than the qualifiers! It frustrates me when I hear so many runners putting down my finishing times, but I do get that Boston is an elite race and they do want to feel special. It’s a tough call, but I hope they keep it the way it is now!
    Kristen recently posted…Try New Things Tuesday: Trail Running!My Profile

  4. I understand both sides of the story, but I ran Boston this year for a charity and it was an incredible experience. I know I’d never qualify for Boston (I ran a 4:17) and I was pretty damn proud of myself, even if I didn’t meet my goal for the race. As far as different shirts and such, I don’t agree with this. As a charity runner, we still have to pay the very high registration fees that those who qualify pay, we still have to pay for the jackets, etc. Also, those who qualify get to start running in corrals based on their qualifying times, which start before the charity runners, so the charity runners shouldn’t really affect their experience on the course. I get it’s an elite marathon, but I still spent the same amount of time training, all while raising over $5k dollars for a charity that meant a lot to me, so I don’t know why someone else would be bothered by this.
    Sara @ lifebetweenthemiles recently posted…ChoicesMy Profile

    • I agree! I know that raising money is a ton of work. My mom and I had to raise $8K for the Christopher Reeve Foundation in 2011 for the NYC Marathon. And 4:17?? That’s an awesome time! My latest marathon was 4:50, so my mom and I are hoping to run in 4:30 for our next race!

  5. I get both sides of the story, but tend to err on the side that everyone should be able to run. If you’re good enough to qualify, then flipping qualify for it. If you’re not, then at least you still have the option to run it and you’re doing good at the same time. A runner is a runner, no matter how fast they’re going. I hope to do Boston some day and highly doubt I will qualify. As a lifelong Massachusetts resident, I feel it is almost both my duty and my right to do it, so however I get in, I will. :-)
    Stephanie @ Whole Health Dork recently posted…Easy and Healthy American Chop SueyMy Profile

    • I agree with you! I don’t think charity runners get in the way of anyone since they start towards the back usually. I think some runners can just be elitest ;)

Speak Your Mind


CommentLuv badge