Today was the day that the Boston Athletic Association announced the much anticipated changes to the Boston Marathon registration process as well changes to the qualifying standards. These changes are in response to this year's marathon selling out in 8 hours.
Effective with the 2012 marathon:
"Registration will occur on a “rolling admission” schedule until the maximum field size is reached, beginning with the fastest qualifiers. On the first day of registration for the 2012 Boston Marathon, those who are eligible for entry by having met the qualifying standards for their age and gender group by 20 minutes or more will be able to enter on the first day of registration (September 12). On the third day (September 14), registration will open for those who have met their qualifying standards by 10 minutes or more. On the fifth day (September 16), registration will open for those who have met their qualifying standards by five minutes or more. During this first week of registration, applicants will be notified as they are accepted and their qualifying performance verified.
If the field size is not reached after the first week and additional space remains, then registration will open to all qualifiers at the beginning of Week Two (September 19) and those who have met the qualifying standards by any amount of time will be able to apply for entry. The application process will remain open for the entire week, closing on September 23. At the conclusion of Week Two, those who are the fastest among the pool of applicants in their age and gender will be accepted. Accepted athletes will be notified on September 28."
What does this mean for me? The current qualifying times apply to the 2012 marathon. In theory, it is possible for me to qualify for the 2012 marathon at the Vermont City marathon in May. However, my current qualifying time is 3:15 so it is highly unlikely that I will qualify this spring in Vermont. What about a fall marathon? Registration for the 2012 marathon will be closed before I even toe the line.
Effective with the 2013 marathon: qualifying times across the board will be lowered by 5 minutes (it's actually 6 minutes, I'll explain in a minute).
What does this mean for me? A lot. Before the changes were announced, my plan was to attempt to BQ when I turn 40. That is when my qualifying time would change from 3:15 to 3:20. Under the new rules I would need to run a 3:15. BAA is also eliminating the 59 second "cushion." When I turn 40 I would have qualified with a time between 3:20:00 - 3:20:59. The new rules eliminate the extra 59 seconds so if I ran a 3:15:01 I would have missed qualifying by 1 second.
It goes without saying that it going to be much more difficult for me to qualify. I'm going to continue to train hard and if I'm fortunate enough to get to Boston, great. If not, as I've said before, I'll still be proud of my accomplishments.