Thursday, February 17, 2011

A Wicked Good Letter to the BAA

Dear BAA,

I was excited to see that you posted the new qualifying times for the Boston Marathon yesterday. I am also glad to say that, after sitting down with an actuary, a lawyer and a professor of applied math from MIT, I think I understand your new standards. (For those of you who haven’t seen it yet I thought you might want to hear my thoughts, so hear goes.

I have been running for about four years. At some point, my goal changed from just running marathons to running them well, and with that came a desire to run Boston. I am not sure why. It could be because you guys are the only ones with qualifying times, or it might just be the really cool jackets with the unicorn. Either way, I started working harder and my times got better. Before long, my goal was in sight.

I get the need to limit the field and let the best runners run, I really do. I also understand that after last year’s registration fiasco, something had to give. Still, there are many things within the treatise you wrote that leave me confused and confounded.

Rolling registration where the fastest get to register first- It used to be that you could say after crossing the finish line “I qualified for Boston”. Now what do you say? I” qualified for the right to apply but probably be rejected by Boston”? “I get to run Boston if all the fast guys have their internet service go down for a month in the fall”? I must congratulate you however. It is now takes longer to apply for Boston and find out whether you made it, than to receive permission to purchase an M-16 in most states.

Even easier for women and old men to qualify- I am told that many runners enjoy running past Wellesley College as the women shout and try to kiss them. Now personally, being happily married and a rabbi to boot, getting kissed by a bunch of co-eds isn’t why I want to run, but I feel bad for those young ladies. All the younger guys will be running to fast for these women to catch them, the older men might creep them out and kissing women is probably not what they are looking to do.

Bad math- You said the qualifying times for 2013 would be five minutes faster. You also said there would no longer be a 59 second window. Correct me if I am mistaken but doesn’t that mean the times have changed by SIX minutes? Just saying.

Do I sound like a bitter guy who just realized he might not ever achieve his dream?- I am somewhat thankful for the decision you made. All of my focus on qualifying for Boston was making me neurotic. It was really taking away from my enjoyment of running as I kept searching for faster courses (“I hear the Kazakhstan Marathon has a net downhill”) and things I could do to shave seconds off my time. I haven’t given up on running Boston; it’s just that it has now become more of Shangri La like dream, which will only come true if my efforts meet a large degree of luck.

Meanwhile, I get to go back to what running should be; an enjoyable endeavor where I continuously strive to get better. I am hoping that running will keep me healthy as I hope to run a 4:30 marathon when I turn 145. I hear that guys who beat their time required time by 17 hours get to register first.

Slowly, not yours,



  1. I am thinking that I might stand a VERY good shot at getting turned down in about 38 years, when I cross into the Octogenarian age group. I am only just now thinking about this whole marathon thing, and I have my first one in April, the week previous to the little run from Hopkington to Bean Town. I have no illusions of BQ'ing on this one, or at the Portland marathon in October. Would it be cool? Yeah, but whatever. I have ridden a bike down to the 9 mile mark to be "pit crew" for my eldest brother and his running partner one year. It was fun, but I don't see the economics being available for quite some time to pull off the entry fee and the rest of it right now even if I were to get there in 6 years. My four daughters eat up most of my capitol, and I am happy with that. I will be content to run her in Oregon and enjoy being outside.

  2. Great post. I think the new standards are a necessary evil. However, I feel your pain since it also my goal to get to Beantown