Squeaking into the Boston Marathon

I’m a Boston squeaker. If you’re interested at all in the Boston Marathon, you probably know that a “squeaker” is someone whose Boston qualifying time is less than 5 minutes faster than the standards set by the Boston Athletic Association for his or her age and gender group. You may have read this great article in Runners World about squeakers. I had never heard the term until I became one myself.

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That’s me in the bright green shorts on the left, scraping every last bit of energy together to finish with a BQ. Not pretty, but it got the job done.

At the Newport Marathon last May, I qualified with only 28 seconds to spare. I’m definitely a squeaker. In fact, I’m about as squeaky as they come.

What does that mean right now? That I’m a kinda’ stressed out.

Registration opened last Monday, September 8, 2014, for the 2015 Boston Marathon. Registration for the first two days is reserved for runners whose qualifying times are 20 minutes or faster than the cut-off times set by the Boston Athletic Association.

On September 10, registration opened for those runners who qualifying times are 10 minutes or faster than the cut-offs.

This morning (September 12), registration opened for runners who qualified with at least a 5-minute cushion. This group includes my rock-star running coach, Kris, who will be at Boston next April.

There are 30,000 registration spots available for the 2015 Boston Marathon, which will take place April 20, 2015. The BAA has indicated its goal is to apportion 80% of those spots to qualifiers, and 20% to non-qualifiers.

Boston’s rolling-admissions registration during the 1st 2 weeks of the registration period is a merit-based system. The BAA rewards the fastest runners by giving them the best chance of registering for the race. A runner belonging to any 1 of the 3 speedy groups described above are basically assured 1 of the 30,000 available spots.

Because their qualifying times are slower, and there are a finite number of available registrations, squeakers have a lower chance of actually getting into Boston. Registration for squeakers opens on Monday, September 15, and closes late in the day on Wednesday, September 17. Once that registration window closes on September 17, the BAA will assign remaining spots starting with the fastest squeakers. If there are enough spots available, all squeakers who try to register during this 3-day period will snag a spot. I’m hopeful that I will find out by Thursday, September 18, whether I have a space in the 2015 Boston Marathon.

And, if there are spots left over after that 3-day window closes, registration will reopen on September 22 for all qualifiers with a first-come-first-served system.  The likelihood of this occurring? If registration proceeds like last year’s, it won’t happen because the spots will have already been filled during the previous week.

If the registration process sounds complicated, that’s because it is. Fortunately, BAA has tried to simplify it as much as possible, making an instructional video about how to register even a calculator that tells runners when to register based on their date of birth, gender, and qualifying time.

Last September, when registration occurred for the highly popular 2014 Boston Marathon, about 3,000 qualifiers–squeakers–were turned away during the 2nd week of registration. In order to register with a qualifying time, runners had to run 1 minute and 38 seconds faster than their designated qualifying standard. In other words, if I had tried to get into the 2014 Boston Marathon with my time, I would have received a big, fat denial email. Brutal.

I’ve worried about registering for Boston within about 20 minutes of finishing (and qualifying) at Newport, thanks to my tiny time cushion and a toxic comment made by a fellow runner I chatted with post-race. That worry has developed into low-level anxiety this week as I’ve searched the internet for any clues about how many spots are left and what the likelihood is of being able to register as a squeaker.

I’ve combed the Runners World Boston Marathon forum, including this optimistic-yet-anxiety-inducing thread about sell-out date predictions. And I read this article yesterday about how registration is proceeding so far.  The Registration Updates page from the Boston Marathon website is also somewhat helpful.

But if it’s mostly conjecture, and none of it really helps, why do I bother?

I really, really, really want to get in to Boston because I don’t know if I’ll be able to qualify again. And I’m also Type A. Searching for information and reading anything on the subject–regardless of its utility–makes me feel like I have some control over the situation.

Which, of course, I don’t.Photo Sep 11, 1 37 04 PM

For now, I’ll just hope and try not to freak out anymore about my chances. But, honestly, September 18 (“Boston Judgment Day,” as I’ve coined it) cannot come soon enough!

Have you run the Boston Marathon? Do you plan to run the 2015 race? 

11 thoughts on “Squeaking into the Boston Marathon

  1. My heart goes out to you, Molly; I don’t know how you BQ folks survive all of this madness! I think I’ll just stay comfortable with my non-BQ qualifying mid-pack friends. 🙂 I’m cheering for you from here; would a letter of recommendation help? HA!

  2. Whatever happens, you still BQ’d which is something that I’ll probably have to do when I’m 80 and have a more generous qualifying standard. It absolutely blows that you can BQ and still not make it into Boston but I’m praying you make it!

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