The Boston problem.

As I have slowly worked my way through the six races Abbott deem to be the marathon majors, I am aware that I have left the most difficult until last. It’s the marathon equivalent of pushing your vegetables to the side of the plate until you really have to eat them. Although, the actual running of these races, particularly Boston, will be the pinnacle of my running…career? (is this a career?) I don’t think so.

This is not entirely intentional, I just ticked off the races nearest to me first: London and Berlin. You have to be pretty certain you are in it for the long haul before you start travelling trans-Atlantic for races. I had heard that Chicago was a fast course, so it seemed a logical place to go next, as I was desperate to avenge poor results in Dublin and Barcelona, and go sub 3. Fortunately, my Berlin time was fast enough for a guaranteed entry.

Then on the 7th October, I ran 2:57:32. Dreamland. Sub 3 was achieved, almost 8 minutes under the 3:05 BQ time I needed, I was on track for Boston 2020…Or so I thought.

I recently had a look on the B.A.A (Boston Athletic Association) website, only to find that the qualifying times had changed for the 2020 race. My age group BQ time was now 3:00. Here we come to the crux of the matter. Because of the over subscription of the race, the further you are beneath your BQ time, the more likely you are to get in. It makes total sense, for a race that prides itself on being the best of the best. I just can’t help thinking they did it deliberately to spite me!

These are the hard numbers. In 2019, runners had to beat their BQ time by at least 4 minutes 52 seconds to stand any chance of getting in. Which means my measly 2 minutes 28 seconds under isn’t going to butter any parsnips (see earlier vegetable reference).

If there is one thing marathon running has taught me and ironically, the race in Chicago in particular, it’s that you have to be able to adapt. Things aren’t always going to go your way. Running when you feel great and things are easy is…well…easy. Learning and improving are done in the dark, uncomfortable places.

Now I only have one option, if I want to run Boston as much as I say I do. Get faster. Go out and earn it. Due to other commitments, there is realistically only one weekend I can run this extra race, so the course is not one I would have chosen for speed. The chips are down.

It’s not nearly as dramatic or important as I make it sound. But it’s fun to pretend!


Admit it, it is beautiful.

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