One of my goals is to qualify for, and run, the Boston Marathon, but I still have a long way to go to get there. I would need to improve my current PR of 3:52:13 by more than a half an hour in order to get in. The qualifying times are based on your gender and age, and the 40-44 age bracket requires a marathon finish of 3:20.
When I move into the 45-49 bracket, I get an extra 10 minutes vs. the 40-44 group (3:30 vs 3:20), and this has been a goal I can more easily wrap my head around. The earliest I could qualify in this slower age bracket is around October of this year. I had thoughts that I could make changes to my fitness and training this summer and hopefully get much closer to the 3:30 mark. But now they have moved the finish line.
After the 2011 Boston Marathon sold out in just over 8 hours, the BAA needed to make some changes. Rather than increase the size of the field, they decided to make it a more difficult challenge to qualify and register. The qualifying times for all of the gender and age groups have been cut by five minutes. My 3:30 goal is now a 3:25 goal.
They have also changed the registration process so that the fastest runners get a chance to register first. For the first couple of days of registration, only people who beat their respective qualifying time by 20 minutes or more get to register. On the third day, runners who beat the BQ time by 10 minutes get to register. On the fifth day, the five minute group gets to sign up. The following week, everyone else who qualified gets to register.
So not only do I need to get five minutes faster, it is entirely possible that even if I snuck in under 3:25, I would not get in unless I beat it by several minutes in order to register earlier. I can't really argue with letting the fastest in first, and there's not much I can do about it but to try to get faster. Time to double-down on the training.
BAA press release
Update: I just found out that the 59 second cushion is also being eliminated. In the past, if your qualifying time was 3:30, you could run 3:30:59 and still get in. No more. So in real terms, the qualifying times actually got six minutes faster. Damn.