Heat-Adjusted Qualifying Times for Boston Marathon 2013?

My Life as a Runner > races > Heat-Adjusted Qualifying Times for Boston Marathon 2013?
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A few days ago, I was glancing through Tweets on my iPhone, until this one from Runner’s World caught my eye. You might have seen this Tweet, too. My immediate reaction to the post was along the line of “Someone is high on something,” but I thought I’d give it a read before I responded to that Tweet. So I opened the link.

Basically, Amby Burfoot posed this question to his readers, whether BAA “should provide a “heat-adjusted” time for runners who ran this year hoping to qualify for next year.” His argument that BAA should give this idea a serious consideration was, I assume, based on the fact high percentage of runners finished in qualifying times in the previous year’s Boston Marathon. For example, in each of past five years, more than 40% of Boston Marathon runners BQed for next year’s Boston Marathon. No other Boston qualifiers in US or Canada came close to Boston Marathon (data from marathonguide.com) as the top qualifier. However, this year, the scorching heat made it super challenging to BQ for most runners (still 2,705 ran BQ); therefore, he argued, BAA should give its best customers, ie. Boston runners, a break. RW’s data below compares this year’s race to previous years. 2011 provided one of the most favorable running weather, while 2012, 2004 and 1976 turned out to be very warm on the race day.


Heat adjusted qualifying times by runners world magazineSo, I read the whole article, but still think Burfoot was high on something. Why should BAA even give this a consideration? They’ve already given the deferment option to those who chose not to run Boston this year. That was bad enough. Those who run this year knew BQ was out of question, and who could we blame? No one. There was nothing we could do about the weather but we still chose to run in it. The same goes for those who are aiming for a BQ in all the other qualifiers but might end up running in as bad or even worse conditions. BAA would certainly not provide heat-adjusted times to those runners. Heat-adjusted times will make it worse for, and unfair to, those who are trying very hard to qualify for Boston next year. What do you think?

  • mollyphillips
    April 23, 2012

    The time comparison chart is very interesting and the differences in times are quite astonishing – there is no denying that! However, I am going to agree with you that adjusting the times isn’t the answer. Weather happens. No one can change that. And imagine the whirlwind precedent it would create if Boston adjusted the times! Amby says BAA should consider adjusting the times “on the theory that businesses should take extraordinarily good care of their best customers.” Well, this is running… this isn’t a middle school summer camp. It’s hard work! I am a runner that will neeeever qualify for Boston (and I’m fine with that!) so I don’t know how much my opinion matters, or if it would be different if I was in the range of a BQ time. Boston marathoners are an elite group – as much as I feel bad for all those who ran and had to face the heat, I hope I am not being insensitive when I say that there really wasn’t anything anyone could do, nor is there anything BAA should do about it now, after the fact. I think everyone should chalk it up to experience and realize that this could happen again. if anything, I’d be proud to say, “I ran in the 2012 Boston marathon, the one where it was soooo hot!”

    • Koji Kawano
      April 23, 2012

      Thank you for your comment! I agree with you that there was not anything we could do, though we really wanted to do something to get rid of the heat! =) From what I heard and read, most runners were proud to have run in the heat. So let’s just leave it with that! Thanks again.

  • Annabelle
    April 25, 2012

    The idea of “heat adjusted” times totally undermines the prestige of running Boston, and maybe the spirit of distance running. I appreciate that the BAA adjusted the qualifying times in response to the rapid sell-out for 2011. I think their consistency in maintaining that this is an elite, respectable, and well-managed event is one of the reasons so few people actually took the deferment option and so many people ran!

    I for one, have already registered for a marathon in May to get my BQ back! I would be really disappointed in the BAA if they allowed people to “qualify” who didn’t actually run the time.

    • Koji Kawano
      April 25, 2012

      Thank you for your comment. I agree the preservation of the prestige is one of BAA’s highest priorities, so I highly doubt it will actually offer such option. Just that I was surprised to the Tweet and wondered what other runners thought. Good luck for the May marathon wherever you are running. From what I saw your past PR, you will get one easily!

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