Boston lowers qualifying times for “seniors”


By Fred Deckert


Evidently the Boston Marathon is going after the senior set in 2003. For those of you still not in the know, standards have been lowered, starting with 45 year olds. They will get another 5 minutes to qualify, but 80 year olds will have 70 minutes extra! Actually the 70-74, 75-79 and 80+ age groups are new to Boston. These changes and the expansion of the field from 15,000 to 20,000 runners promise to make the start town of Hopkinton expand from it’s normal 2500 residents to more than ten times that number! When I ran the course in 1981 there were only about 3000 competitors, and we thought it was pretty crowded. However with the advent of the “chip timing”, which times you from the start line to the finish instead of the old overall start signal to the finish, the race start should be relatively hassle free. As most of you know, Boston is a Holy Grail for runners, even non-runners will ask you if you have run Boston. Sometimes the implication is that you really aren’t a marathon runner if you haven’t.

Now, the next step for you wannabe Boston runners is to find yourself a marathon at which to qualify. This must be done between Sept. 28, 2001 and Feb. 2, 2003. Applications will be available starting Sept. 9. Several Florida marathons can be qualifiers; Jacksonville, Ocala and Disney come to mind for the 2002-3 winter season. Locals may be in luck in 2004 since the Tallahassee Marathon is moving to a new, flatter and faster course on Feb. 16, 2003. Of course that alone won’t do the trick. Even with the relaxed standards, making the cut will require a good training program and a bit of dedication, not to mention enough luck to stay injury free through training. Local residents are fortunate in being blessed with good weather in the few months prior to the Boston Marathon in late April. Opportunities to qualify abound during late fall and early winter without the negative aspects of snow and cold which badger northern runners. For those interested, you’ll find the new standards below. In each age group, the male time is given, add 30 minutes for the female in each group.

45-49 3 hrs 30 min, 50-54 3 hrs 35 min, 55-59 3 hrs 45 min, 60-64 4 hrs 00 min, 65-69 4 hrs 15 min, 70-74 4 hrs 30 min, 75-79 4 hrs 45 min, 80+ 5 hrs 00 min.
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