The BAA toyed with us this weekend. Sunday, the registration page for the 2013 Boston Marathon changed to read, “The Boston Athletic Association appreciates your interest in running the 2013 Boston Marathon, however registration has now closed. The registration process for the 2013 Boston Marathon began on September 10, and the maximum number of athletes who ran a qualifying performance and submitted their application for entry has now been reached.”
The internet was soon abuzz with the news. Everyone had expected Boston to close out, but no one was sure when it would happen. Thousands of people running fall marathons have been watching the process, hoping that registration would stay open until after their race. Once we saw the news, those of us who haven’t run yet sighed and started thinking about 2014.
But at about 10AM Monday, registration reopened. Shortly thereafter the BAA posted on their FB page: “REGISTRATION REMAINS OPEN for the 2013 Boston Marathon for those who have met the qualifying standards… If you are a qualifier and wish to run in 2013, the B.A.A. now encourages you to not delay and to submit your application for entry.”
As the facts scrambled to catch up with the rumors, BAA spokesperson Jack Fleming told Runner’s World that the field-is-full notice mistakenly went live on the site during a test. Fleming said, “We received one phone call to our office with the question, which indicates to us that it was nothing major for visitors to our site.”
Sometimes it’s not clear whether the BAA realizes, or cares, how much the race matters to runners. Also, as an IT guy myself, I’m annoyed by how the BAA threw their IT team under the bus.
Boston has a mystique. For many runners, qualifying for the Boston Marathon validates that their efforts are worthwhile. It’s possible to run a marathon without training but no one qualifies for Boston without working for it.
The uncertainty after 2010, when registration for the race closed in less than 8 hours, and 2011, when some of the runners who qualified before registration opened were still locked out, has affected how runners feel about the race. Runners, especially those of us who are on the edge of qualifying, now follow the registration process closely. The BAA needs to realize that, and make sure that information about registration is accurate and readily available. It wouldn’t be hard to go beyond telling us whether registration is “open” or “closed” and start publishing real-time numbers that let us know how many slots remain available and the size of their queue of unverified registrations.
As I write this, it appears that registration is still open. I still expect that it will close before Cape Cod, and it’ll still be a disappointment when (if!) it does.
(16.3 mi. bike; 146.5#)