A Boston Qualifier isn't the only way to get to the iconic start line.
Now this could be controversial. For many runners, earning their Boston Qualifying time (BQ) and wearing their bib with pride in Hopkinton is the pinnacle of their running career. Some runners don’t fuss about Boston and some simply won’t run a qualifying time (a sub 3:35 for women under 35, sub 3:05 for men). Times do get slower for older age brackets, but even running a qualifying time might not be enough to secure your spot—in 2016 you had to run around 2 minutes 30 seconds faster than your qualifying time actually gain entry, such is the demand for bibs.
I haven’t earned a BQ (YET) but am lucky enough to be running the Boston Marathon this year as a blogger with one of the sponsors, Adidas. I was prepared for some backlash over this, however there were only a few that were less than enthusiastic—most of my blog readers were so supportive and are enjoying following my Boston training updates.
While I know I’m in a slightly unique situation, there are other ways to gain entry to the oldest marathon in the world.
Fundraise For A Charity Spot
This is the most conventional way to earn your bib for Boston if you haven’t run a BQ. There are 2,500 charity spots for the Boston marathon, many of them for U.S. or local charities. They usually have a fundraising minimum of $5,000, although many are up to $10,000. This is a great option if you have a cause close to your heart and know that you’ll be able to fundraise alongside training (however it can also add extra stress to the big day).
Join A Tour Group
There are a limited number of non-qualifier bibs through groups such as 209 Events and Sports Tours International. However, you better be quick—209 Events reported that their bibs sold out within 12 hours!
Win Your Entry
If you follow the sponsors online and on social media, some of them host competitions for Boston bibs (which are well worth an entry). Similarly, if you have your own blog or big social following, start interacting with the brands, engage with their media teams and you never know what could happen.
Review All Qualifying Standards
Athletes with disabilities go through a different entry process, although there are still qualifying standards for these. You can find out more about them here. There are also several charities that work with runners with disabilities.
You certainly have to earn your spot, however you achieve it; through raising funds for charity, an alarm clock set to gain a travel tour entry or run a qualifying time.
Would you keep working until you ran a BQ or would you look at alternative routes to get you to Hopkinton?