The Boston Marathon is undoubtedly a bucket list running goal for many distance runners. This iconic race is the oldest, continuous-running marathon in the world, approaching its 127th running in 2023.
In 2022, 25,314 athletes lined up in Hopkinton, MA and covered the 26.2 miles of the famed course, with 24,918 runners and wheelchair athletes crossing the finish line on Boylston Street.
Although it can certainly be argued that all marathoners are determined to finish their race, the motivation to finish the Boston Marathon can be even more intense. This is due to the fact that runners have had to work to earn their spot even on the starting line by running the Boston Marathon qualifying times.
Qualifying for the Boston Marathon isn’t easy for most runners, and can take several years of training and trying at other marathons. They also change every so often based on the number of runners meeting the Boston Marathon qualifying times, the field size, and the number of applicants.
Would you qualify for the Boston Marathon? Keep reading for the latest Boston Marathon qualifying times and see how you’d stack up. Just don’t blame us if your goal is suddenly to cross that iconic finish line on Boylston Street!
In this article, we will cover:
- How to Qualify for the Boston Marathon
- The Latest Boston Marathon Qualifying Times
- What Are the Best Races to Qualify for the Boston Marathon?
- Why Are the Boston Marathon Qualifying Times Faster Than They Used to Be?
- What Are the Boston Marathon Cut-Off Times?
Let’s get started!
How to Qualify for the Boston Marathon
In order to qualify for the Boston Marathon, runners have to post a race time at an official marathon that is faster than the Boston Marathon qualifying times based on your age and sex.
Qualifying times are based on official finish times, also known as gun time or chip time.
In order for race times to be a valid Boston Marathon qualifying times, they must be from a certified full marathon.
Races shorter than a full marathon are not accepted, nor are times from indoor marathons or virtual marathons.
Although the Boston Marathon does not designate which specific races meet qualifying standards, the marathon must from a course certified by USA Track and Field, Association for International Marathons and Distance Races (AIMS), or the national governing body for distance running for the nation where the race took place.
There is also a specific qualifying window. For the 2023 Boston Marathon, the qualifying window began on September 1, 2021. The window remains open until registration is closed.
Registration for the 2023 Boston Marathon is September 12-September 16, 2022 at 5:00 PM EST.
All applicants must register during this five-day window and must have achieved their Boston Marathon qualifying times no later than September 16, 2022.
Note that the qualifying window for the 128th Boston Marathon, scheduled to take place on April 15, 2024, will start on September 1, 2022.
During the registration window, athletes who have qualified will be permitted to submit an application for the Boston Marathon on the BAA website, but achieving your Boston Marathon qualifying standard and registering for the race does not guarantee entry.
Depending on the number of runners who apply in your age group, not every runner will necessarily be accepted.
The fastest runners for each age group and sex are accepted first, so the further under your qualifying standard your race time is from your qualifying race, the better your chances of being able to run the Boston Marathon.
For example, the Boston Marathon qualifying standard for men aged 40-44 is 3:10:00. In very simplified terms, a runner who has run 3:00:00 at his qualifying race has a much better chance of being accepted than a runner who has run 3:09:59.
The Latest Boston Marathon Qualifying Times
The official website for the Boston Marathon is the best place to check any changes to qualifying times.
2023 Boston Marathon Qualifying Times for Men
The following table lists the latest Boston Marathon qualifying times for men along with the respective paces you have to run to achieve the qualifying finish time.
|Age Group||Qualifying Time||Pace (min/mile)||Pace (min/km)|
|18-34||3hrs 00min 00sec||6:52||4:16|
|35-39||3hrs 05min 00sec||7:03||4:23|
|40-44||3hrs 10min 00sec||7:15||4:30|
|45-49||3hrs 20min 00sec||7:38||4:44|
|50-54||3hrs 25min 00sec||7:49||4:52|
|55-59||3hrs 35min 00sec||8:12||5:06|
|60-64||3hrs 50min 00sec||8:46||5:27|
|65-69||4hrs 05min 00sec||9:21||5:48|
|70-74||4hrs 20min 00sec||9:55||6:10|
|75-79||4hrs 35min 00sec||10:29||6:31|
|80 and over||4hrs 50min 00sec||11:04||6:52|
2023 Boston Marathon Qualifying Times for Women
The following table lists the latest Boston Marathon qualifying times for women along with the respective paces you have to run to achieve the qualifying finish time.
|Age Group||Qualifying Time||Pace (min/mile)||Pace (min/km)|
|18-34||3hrs 30min 00sec||8:01||4:58|
|35-39||3hrs 35min 00sec||8:12||5:06|
|40-44||3hrs 40min 00sec||8:23||5:13|
|45-49||3hrs 50min 00sec||8:46||5:27|
|50-54||3hrs 55min 00sec||8:58||5:34|
|55-59||4hrs 05min 00sec||9:21||5:48|
|60-64||4hrs 20min 00sec||9:55||6:10|
|65-69||4hrs 35min 00sec||10:29||6:31|
|70-74||4hrs 50min 00sec||11:04||6:52|
|75-79||5hrs 05min 00sec||11:38||7:14|
|80 and over||5hrs 20min 00sec||12:12||7:35|
What Are the Best Races to Qualify for the Boston Marathon?
Although the BAA doesn’t have an official list of specific marathons you must run when you achieve your Boston marathon qualifying times, their website does have a list of some of the top qualifying races every year.
This list is far from exhaustive in that it’s not a list of the races you must run, nor is it actually a list of the races with the highest percentage of runners qualifying for the Boston Marathon.
Rather, it’s just some of the most common races that runners who qualify for the Boston Marathon run to achieve their Boston Marathon qualifying times.
|New York City Marathon|
|California International Marathon|
|Mountains 2 Beach Marathon|
|REVEL Mt Charleston Marathon|
|Indianapolis Monumental Marathon|
|Twin Cities Marathon|
|St George Marathon|
|REVEL Big Cottonwood Marathon|
|Lehigh Valley Via Marathon|
|Marine Corps Marathon|
|Mohawk Hudson River Marathon|
|Jack and Jill’s Downhill Marathon|
Despite this list, the best races for getting a Boston Marathon qualifying time are those with fast, flat courses.
Pick a race that generally has good weather for running based on where and when it is located and that has a field size that will give you enough other runners around your target finish time to push you.
Why Are the Boston Marathon Qualifying Times Faster Than They Used to Be?
The current Boston Marathon qualifying times were instated in 2020.
The previous Boston marathon qualifying times were established in 2013 and remained in effect through 2019.
Unilaterally across the board, the Boston Marathon qualifying times were five minutes slower for each age group compared to where they stand now.
However, an increasing number of applicants were achieving their Boston marathon qualifying times every year and wanting to register for the race, so the BAA was having to turn away a significant number of qualified runners.
In other words, runners were having to run well under their cut-off time in order to actually be accepted into the race.
What Are the Boston Marathon Cut-Off Times?
Even if you achieve a finish time from an official certified full marathon that beats the Boston Marathon qualifying time for your age and sex, you might be accepted into the race.
Over the last decade, for example, the number of qualifying runners has exceeded the maximum field size for all but two years.
Interestingly, for the 126th Boston marathon in 2022, every runner who ran a Boston Marathon qualifying time was accepted into the race, making it one of the two years that were an exception to the usual trend.
This is possibly due to the fact that the field size was increased to 30,000 runners from 20,000 in 2021, wherein it had been reduced by 10,000 due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Additionally, perhaps fewer runners were able to find and train for a qualifying race amidst the relative shutdown of many road races during the qualifying window due to the global pandemic.
Nonetheless, nearly every year in recent years, there are far more applicants for the race than allowable entrants due to the limitations of the field size.
As a result, after sorting through all of the Boston Marathon applications based on age and sex, BAA comes out with Boston Marathon cut-off times for that year‘s race.
The cut-off times for the Boston Marathon reflect the minimum number of minutes and seconds under the regular qualifying time that you must have run in order to be accepted into the race.
The tricky part is that the Boston Marathon cut-off times are not established until after registration has closed and all of the applications have been reviewed and counted.
Therefore, you have to go into qualifying for the Boston marathon somewhat blindly: you won’t know exactly how much faster than the official qualifying time for your class you need to run to actually make it into the race.
Prior to the adjustment of the qualifying times in 2020, the cut-off times for each age group and sex were increasing, which is why the Boston Marathon qualifying times were tightened by five minutes for all divisions.
The following table shows the field size, cut-off times in minutes and seconds and the number of qualified applicants who were not accepted based on the qualifying time for the past 10 years:
|Year||Field Size||Cut-Off Time||Number of Qualifiers Not Accepted|
It’s important to know that the 2021 Boston Marathon had a particularly severe cut off time simply because they had to reduce the field size to 20,000 in response to COVID-19 and so it was particularly competitive to qualify for the race.
When trying to gauge how much faster you need to run to actually be accepted into the race it’s generally a good idea to budget an extra five minutes under the Boston marathon qualifying time for your class.
Although this won’t guarantee acceptance, it is historically a decent ballpark with some extra wiggle room.
If you are truly interested in running the Boston Marathon and would like some more insight into the race, check out our Boston Marathon Guide.