How fast do you need to be for the Boston Marathon?

Marathon runners walking to the reunification areas after the race. Photo by Nia Harmon

By Tara Nguyen

The Boston Marathon has thousands of runners who qualify for the race every year, but the Boston Athletic Association had to reject a record number of applicants for the 2024 marathon. Those who were able to get a spot in the race were five minutes faster than the required time to qualify for their age and gender groups. 

33,000 qualified runners applied for the marathon and the BAA had to turn away 11,039 applicants. 

Over the years, the BAA has made qualifying for the marathon more competitive, by lowering the times that a person needs to participate. Now in the youngest divisions, men have to run a sub-three hour marathon and women have to run a sub-three and a half hour marathon just to qualify. 

In all age groups, the qualifying times for men are 30 minutes faster than women’s, and non-binary times are the same as women’s. This is the second year with a non-binary qualifying group, with 44 runners identifying as non-binary. The BAA says that with such little data, they could not develop a specific time separate from women’s. 

Beyond the new applicants every year the BAA also puts aside 600 spots for runners that have finished 10 or more back-to-back marathons for 2024.