Thursday, September 5, 2013

Boston Marathon Registration - Demand is Going to be Strong

The Boston Athletic Association opens registration for the 2014 Boston Marathon on Monday, September 9th. As in the previous two years, registration will be tiered - runners with qualifying times 20min+ below the age/gender standards will register first over Monday and Tuesday, registration will then open to qualifiers with times 10min+ below the age/gender standards on Wednesday, then to qualifiers with times 5min+ below the standards on Friday. Registration opens for all qualifying times on Monday Sep. 16th, assuming space remains, and will close for all registrants on Friday Sep. 20th.

This tiered registration system gives preference to faster qualifiers and creates a 'natural cut' when the maximum number of runners is reached. This cut can be faster than the official qualifying times, as in 2012 when the fields were capped a little more than two minutes below the qualifying marks. 2013 registration was more leisurely as the field did not fill until early October.
Update:  Seems that 4,000 runners registered on Day 1, with qualifying times 20min better than the standards. That's approx. one-sixth of the available entries for April's race. Uh-oh.
Update 2:  As of Thursday morning the field for time qualifiers is now half full with approx. 10,500 registrants confirmed. Runners World is reporting that 6,000 runners with qualifyng times 10min better than the standards signed up on Wednesday. 
Update 3:  As open enrollment began at 10am on Monday morning, 7,500 qualifiers quickly registered for the approx. 5,000 remaining bibs. Registration will remain open until this Friday for all runners who have met their qualifying times. Registrants will then be seeded fastest to slowest relative to their qualifying standard to determine those remaining 5,000 spots. I'm going to guess that cutoff will be between -3min and -4min. 
 And this year looks to be unique with the tragedy and drama of the 2013 played out over the media for weeks after last year's race. Several prior champions intend to run in a show of solidarity and in defiance of violence, Bill Rodgers, Joan Benoit, Amby Burfoot, and on and on. For these reasons the BAA has increased the size of the field by 9,000 runners (36,000 are slated to run) to absorb some of the pent up demand and to allow for those that could not finish last year (some 5,000 runners) to have another go at it. After accounting for charity spots (~9,000) this leaves approx. 23,000 available spots on the starting line.

Just how much demand might there be? Observe the Google traffic from April tabulating individual searches for 'how to qualify for the Boston Marathon' (above). Over five times the usual interest. Did some portion of these folks get out, build their mileage, and nab a qualifying time? How many aged runners who had long sworn off running marathons decided that this year was different? It wouldn't take much to tip the usual stampede toward Boston to a torrent, and if so, the natural time cut that develops during qualifying registration week is going to disappoint some folks who otherwise thought they had done enough to make it to Patriot's Day in Hopkinton.

  - Boston Marathon Fills Up Slower than Predicted
  - Tragedy in Copley Square
  - Tracking New Mexican Runners at Boston
  - Boston!

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