How to qualify for the Boston Marathon ?

30 Jan 2008 10:33
Jean-Loup Fenaux
Focus on a race How to

Unlike other marathons, Boston is not an open race. You have to qualify to be allowed to run it.
If not as difficult as qualifying for the Olympics, this process can be quite challenging for the average runner. It is certainly what makes running the Boston marathon so special and attracts runners from all over the world. Some even call the race the ‘holy-grail’ of marathon runners since it requires discipline, patience and certainly a lot of miles under your soles.

So in order to qualify, you need to have run a marathon in a certain time based on your gender and age in the past 18 months prior to the Boston marathon.

What are the qualifying times ?


The requirements may change from year to year. Here are the qualifying times for the 2008 marathon.




Age Group Men Women
18-34 3hrs 10min 3hrs 40min
35-39 3hrs 15min 3hrs 45min
40-44 3hrs 20min 3hrs 50min
45-49 3hrs 30min 4hrs 00min
50-54 3hrs 35min 4hrs 05min
55-59 3hrs 45min 4hrs 15min
60-64 4hrs 00min 4hrs 30min
65-69 4hrs 15min 4hrs 45min
70-74 4hrs 30min 5hrs 00min
75-79 4hrs 45min 5hrs 15min
80 and over 5hrs 00min 5hrs 30min

If you’re a woman of 38, you should have run a qualifying marathon in less than 3 hours and 45 minutes and 59 seconds in the year and a half before the Boston marathon.

Athletes in wheelchair have their own qualifying times.






Class Age Group Men Women
Open (Classes 3 & 4) 18-39 2hrs 00min 2hrs 25min
  40-49 2hrs 15min 2hrs 40min
  50-Over 2hrs 30min 2hrs 55min
Quad (Classes 1 & 2) 18-39 2hrs 45min 3hrs 10min
  40-49 3hrs 00min 3hrs 25min
  50-Over 3hrs 15min 3hrs 40min

More details can be found on the official page.

Can I run any marathon to qualify ?


No. Only certain certified marathons can be used as qualifing races. Those races proudly show a ‘Boston Qualifier’ badge on the home page of their web site.

Of course the marathons of the World Marathons majors (New York, Chicago, London and Berlin) can be used as qualifiers. But, those are not the only ones.


As odd as it may seem, the Boston Athletic Association doesn’t provide a complete list of all the qualifying races on its own web site. Fortunately, Bill Hammons is maintaining a list of all qualifiers. Check his Boston Marathon Qualifiers Guide.

If you don’t live in Northern America, where most qualifiers are located, don’t be disappointed , you can still find some on the other continents. Here are a few of them :

Have you already run in Boston ? How challenging has it been to qualify ?