Now, we finally come to the year 2021, after the year of the pandemic that forced major marathons cancellations. Due to Covid-19, the 2020 Boston Marathon was virtual and runners who qualified from Sep 2018 did not have a chance to run the 2020 Boston Marathon in person. The cancellation of the 2020 in-person Boston Marathon naturally created a domino effect and curiosity about the 2021 marathon grew. BAA announced its tentative 2021 Marathon date as October 11, and many marathoners started having guessing games and hypothetical scenarios about the 2021 field size and its famous cut off time. On social media, some claim at least 20 min cut off time, some guess a minimum 10 min cut off time, etc. But until the March-April 2021 registration and field size announcements, nobody knows the answer. But what we do know is that making the latest 2020 Boston Marathon qualifying times is already a big achievement and even if one does not make the cut for participating in the in-person race in Boston, this does not diminish one’s speed or the hard work put in to ensure qualification success.
Thus do you own a dream Boston Qualified Jacket? Yes. Well, you deserve it 100%! Stop feeling guilty about wearing it or not wearing it. WHY? Because several uncontrollable factors that nobody knows in a given year or time come into play in determining whether you will run the Boston Marathon in-person or not. What qualified runners are forgetting is to be accepted to run, the Boston marathon is not only dependent on the BQ time. Some other factors come into play that have nothing to do with one’s BQ time or speed including:
- The number of charity runners allowed in a given year.
- The number of very fast and eligible international marathoners outside the United States who do not have financial resources to come to the US, or are not eligible to obtain a US visa.
- The number of international marathoners who are eligible every year but choose not to run Boston in person. Based on a recent social media questionnaire taken by various international marathoners, quite a large number of marathoners were eligible, with over 20 minutes cushion, 5-6 years in a row but never able to come to the US.
As you can see, all these 3 factors are completely unrelated to one being “a very fast BQ runner.” After a BQ, the rest is down to sheer luck! 2021 especially will be a very lucky year for US marathoners since many international marathoners will not be able to or will choose not to come in person to run in Boston due to the pandemic. Based on 2018 Boston Marathon Results, approximately 7839 marathoners were international. When you consider that almost 30% of Boston Marathon finishers are internationals, and hypothetically assume if 50% of them choose not to come in 2021, there will be additional 50% US marathoners who will be able to make the cut regardless of the field size. This does not necessarily mean that these runners automatically become the fastest when they are accepted to the 2021 Boston Marathon. They just got extra lucky. If the field size is reduced to only 4-5 thousand marathoners, that will almost mean elite level marathon only.
However, this is all speculation until the BAA makes the final decision on registration if the race occurs as intended. Until then, rest assured that if you made the latest BQ standards you are a damn good runner, and regardless of whether you run the race in person or not, you deserve the jacket and should wear it with pride! To deserve the race jacket or a Boston Qualified t-shirt memorabilia does not depend on “how many charity runners will collect donations” or “how many financially secure internationals will decide to come to the US in 2021.” Rather, the Boston Marathon qualification is a key target to improve one’s marathon time. It’s a vision, a dream and if you are working towards that dream and if you meet the threshold, all we can say CONGRATULATIONS! YOU MADE IT! Well, deserved! Enjoy your BQ every second of it!