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What Percent of Marathon Finishers Go On to Run the Boston Marathon?

A statistical breakdown of the 2015 Boston Marathon field, relative to total marathon finishers in the U.S.

For the last two decades since I unleashed my ambition to run the Boston Marathon, I have analyzed dozens of marathons and millions of marathon results in an attempt to crack the code on what it takes to get to Boston.

Much of the analysis is on my site at RaceBoston.com. And there’s a great deal of useful information in Running USA’s Annual Marathon Report 2014, and other details are fleshed out by the Boston Athletic Association.

We’ve drawn on all that information to look at the big picture of marathon running, focusing on this question: What percent of annual marathon finishers actually race in the Boston Marathon?

And here’s the big picture:

  • How Many Annual Marathon Finishers in the U.S.? About 550,000
  • How Many Annual Marathons? 1,050
  • What Percent Run Boston Qualifying Times? 12 percent.
  • How Many Annual Boston Qualifiers? Around 65,000
  • Impact of International Qualifiers and/or Those Who Run More Than One Marathon? Our basic analysis suggests the two cancel each other out—5 percent of Boston runners are international, while we assume that the average runner runs less than 1.05 marathons per year.
  • How Many Run Boston Qualifying Times But Choose Not to Register for Boston? Nearly 35,000

Let’s break it down further: