Preliminary Report on the Effect of the New Boston Qualifying Times


(Update: Click here for a look at the numbers from races through mid-August)

The other day, @jamieofthenorth tweeted about how tough this year’s Boston Marathon was because of the heat.  “At the 2011 #bostonmarathon, 10,374 runners requalified for Boston. This year? Just 2705.”

That got me thinking.  It was a tough day, that’s for sure, but you also have to remember to take the new, faster, qualifying times for 2013 into account when comparing qualifiers for Boston in 2013 with qualifiers for 2012 .

@jamieofthenorth got his numbers from MarathonGuide.com, so I went there to poke around.  Their lists show the marathons with the highest percentage of qualifiers and the races with the most qualifiers.  It’s only April, so a lot of races that were on the 2011 lists have not been run yet this year.

If you compare the qualifying rate in 2011 (for 2012) with the qualifying rate in 2012 (for 2013) for the seven races that show up in both years, you get this:

Boston Qualifiers 2011/2012
Race 2011 % 2012 % 2011 temp 2012 temp
Houston 8.3% 13.1% 67 70
City of L.A. 4.1% 3.6% 56 58
Disney 4.7% 3.6% 64 77
RnR Arizona 13.9% 7.4% 71 63
Miami 10.1% 6.7% 74 76
National 14.6% 4.9% 47 75
Boston 43.6% 13.1% 61 87

The percentage of runners who qualified for Boston at the Houston Marathon actually went up, but I figure that anomaly might be due to the quality of the extra runners (about 10% more than 2011) who showed up because the U.S. Olympic Trials were held there the day before.

The qualifying rate at the National Marathon in DC plummeted by two-thirds.  That’s about the same drop as Boston but, like Boston, it was much hotter in DC in 2012 than it was in 2011.

In the other four races, the qualifying rate dropped on average by about a third.  That sample is only from a few months, but it covers well over 40,000 runners, so for now I’ll assume that that’s the approximate size of the effect created by the new BQ times.

It’ll be interesting to look back in December to see whether those numbers hold up over the course of the year.


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