For 2012, the qualifying times will remain the same but the registration process will change to a rolling registration to give the "fastest" runners a chance to register the earliest. The more you "beat" your qualifying time, the earlier you get to register. On the first day of registration, those who beat their qualifying times by 20 minutes or more go. The next day it opens to those who bettered their time by 10 minutes or more. After a week of this, registration opens to the general public.
So, for example, I will be a 42-year-old male for the 2012 Boston Marathon qualifying period, so my qualifying time is 3 hours, 20 minutes, and 59 seconds. If I have a great run at the Napa Marathon and run a 2:55, I will be 25 minutes under my qualifying time. So I would get to register on Day 1. It's kind of like an "A" standard. Here is the rolling registration schedule:
|Date||registration opens for runners with times...|
|September 12, 2011||20 min., 00sec. or more below their qualifying time (based on age/gender)|
|September 14, 2011||10 min., 00 sec. or more below their qualifying time (based on age/gender)|
|September 16, 2011||5 min., 00 sec. or more below their qualifying time (based on age/gender)|
|September 19, 2011||All Qualified Runners|
|September 23, 2011||Registration closes for qualified applicants|
|September 28, 2011 (appx)||Qualifiers from entry during second week of registration are notified of their acceptance.|
For 2013, they will have the same process and also reduce all qualifying times by 5 minutes and 59 seconds, so the previous 3:10:59 qualifying time for Men age 18-34 is now 3:05:00. No surprise here - this is the simplest way to reduce the field of applicants.
I give a Tip-O-The-Hat to the BAA for coming up with a unique system to address the needs of the rather vocal minority of fast runners who didn't get a slot. This could have gone a number of ways, and I like that the one race that has qualifying standards leaned towards honoring the fastest runners. I find myself looking at the new process and realizing I have two BQ goals - the minimum standard, and the "register-on-the-first-day" A standard. It's asking me to push myself harder. So for that, I thank the BAA.
Not all agree, however. Former winner Amby Burfoot is not a fan, pointing out that you can run a Boston qualifying time and still not get into Boston if it fills up with faster runners . Of course that could happen now if you weren't fast enough to register on the first day. But I see his point - this system loses transparency, and there are no guarantees even if you hit a "qualifying" time. I can imagine this could be frustrating for someone who's life goal is to do this race. Amby doesn't provide any suggestions (WHO MOVED MY CHEESE?), but I get the sense that the BAA will continue to tweak the process.
Curious to what you guys think...