The Boston Marathon is one of the most storied and historic marathons in the US, if not the world.
Every year, many runners obsess about finding the right race to get their ‘BQ’ (Boston Qualifying time). Every spring, the running media is filled with stories about Boston. The runners, the race, the history.
A few years ago in the April issue of Runners World magazine (which is usually filled wall-to-wall with Boston coverage), had a quote that stuck with me, ‘every runner wants to run Boston.’
I’m paraphrasing, but you get the idea.
My Boston Marathon Confession
Here is my confession:
I am an avid and frequent marathon runner, and yet I have no interest in running the Boston Marathon.
In the interest of full disclosure, let me say up front that I’m not even close to my qualifying time. The BQ for my age range is currently 3:45 (and you usually need to be a bit faster to get in). My marathon best time is 4:29.
The Boston people aren’t exactly beating down my door.
My thoughts on if I would or wouldn’t run Boston is an entirely academic exercise.
But that’s kinda my point.
What Makes The Boston Marathon Different
Most marathons are open to all. You want to run, you sign up, you are in.
It might fill up quickly or have a lottery for registration. But all runners have an equal chance to get in.
But Boston is different.
To run the Boston Marathon, you need to run another marathon fast enough to have a qualifying time. There are different qualifying times for all ages and genders.
And those times are fast.
You need to be really good, and you need to be really fast, to get into Boston.
Why I Love Most Marathons
One of the reasons I love running is that it welcomes all comers.
On marathon morning, for every race other than Boston, the fastest elites and slowest first-timers all line up at the same time and run the same race on the same course.
Runners (like me) who define success in terms other than our finish times are just as worthy of a spot at the start as the fastest professional.
You can finish in 2:30 or you can finish in 7:00 and you have accomplished the same thing. Everyone is welcome to push their personal limits and test themselves against what they think they can do.
We are just as worthy, we just take longer.
The Boston Marathon turns this idea on its head.
You need to be a successful marathoner to run Boston. And ‘success’ is measured by a single number: your finish time.
Slow runners are not welcome.
First timers are not welcome.
I am not welcome.
I have run 26 marathons, and I’ve accomplished every running goal I’ve set out for myself, but that is not enough for Boston.
All of my successes do not matter because I am not fast.
Setting My Own Goals
I am very proud of my friends who have run the Boston Marathon. I am happy that they are happy to have run it.
It is a huge accomplishment, and is something that any runner can and should be proud of.
But every runner needs to set their own goals. Goals that will lead them to push themselves to be the best runner they can be.
For me, Boston is NOT that goal.
What’s Right For Me
I’ll stick to races that welcome all comers.
Where every runner can push themselves to try and accomplish their race goals, whatever they may be.
I’ll stick to races that are open to whoever cares to join in, since that is what I loved about running in the first place.
Update: Comments on social media regarding this post prompted me to consider why I enjoy running. The result is my running (and blogging) manifesto. Check it out: