Posted by: Joe English | November 12, 2008

Racing: Qualifying for the Boston Marathon; 15-month qualifications (part II)

Coach Joe English

Coach Joe English

We get lots of inquiries about qualifying for the Boston Marathon. Apparently, there are some ins and outs of the process that leave people with a lot of specific questions. A previous reader asked about getting in to the race without running a qualifying time. Here’s a version of the question that we haven’t touched on before from a reader named Alysha:

I just ran my first marathon and am now wanting to train to qualify for the Boston Marathon. I am looking to try to run a qualifying time in October of 2009, but i will then be out of the country during the following Boston Marathon in 2010. If I were to qualify in 2009 would it allow for me to run in the 2011 Boston Marathon if I am unable to attend the 2010?

First, it depends upon when in 2009 you are planning to qualify for Boston. Boston qualification stretches back for 15 months prior to the start of the race year, so if you were to qualify in the months of October, November and December of 2009, you would qualify for both the 2010 and 2011 races.

For the upcoming 2009 race, you could qualify any time after September, 29th 2007. That gives you (this year anyway) the last weekend of September, plus October-December of 2007 and all of 2008 to qualify. The reason for this extended period of time is to include the major marathons that are held in the Fall when most runners would qualify for Boston, including the big races like New York and Chicago.

Now if you were planning on qualifying earlier in 2009 and you wanted to run in 2011, then you’d have a different issue. The only way that I know of that you’d be able to accomplish this is to do a deferral of your qualification. You can only do this once as far as a I know. The way that it works is that you would have to register for the 2010 race and then request a deferral. You would not get your registration fee back and you would have to pay the registration fee again in 2011. Again, my understanding is that you can only do this once.

I think in your case a better plan would be to simply train for a fall race for your qualification next year. Pick a race from October-December and your qualification will be good for the 2011 race (which you’ll register for in 2010).

A couple of good options for you, depending on where you live, would be the California International Marathon in December and the Chicago Marathon in October. Both of these are good courses for Boston qualifying and they fall within the time window that we’re talking about.

Qualifying times and races can be found at the BAA web-site, by clicking here.

See, clear as mud! If you have more questions, feel free to ask.

Coach Joe English, Portland Oregon, USA
Managing Editor, Running Advice and News



  1. Joe is correct on the deferral issue. I have taken advantage of that once. You must register (and pay) for the current race. Then, you can apply for a deferral with BAA (I did it by email). I got a confirmation back quite quickly (I don’t remember exactly but I didn’t wait long.). It then instructed me on applying the following year. It also stated that this was a one-time deferral.

    Oh, and remember, you will remain seeded in the corral that correlates to your qualifying time. So, if in that next year you get in even faster shape… you’re stuck there. And even if you’re in worse shape that following year… you’re stuck.
    Coach Dean

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