How Fast Did You Have to Run to Get Into the 2020 Boston Marathon?

For the seventh year in a row, not all with a Boston Marathon qualifying time got into the prestigious race, and cut-off times were the fastest since 1986.

The qualifying standards for the 2020 Boston Marathon were five minutes faster than last year for each division, but runners met the challenge—and then some. Officials announced on Wednesday that 3,110 eligible runners were still shut out of the April 20 race.

Those who received entry were at least one minute, 39 seconds (1:39) faster than their qualifying time for age group and gender. It’s the seventh consecutive year that participants had to beat their qualifying standard in order to earn a place on the starting line. Men ages 18–34 had to run better than 2:58:21 and women in the age group 3:28:21—faster than any qualifying times since 1986, when the cutoffs were 2:50 for men and 3:20 for women.

Boston Marathon runners running at mile 20
Photo credit: 101 Degrees West

So, Who Qualified For Boston?

A total of 24,127 were accepted out of the 27,288 applications submitted during registration, which began on a rolling basis on September 9. The fastest qualifiers from each age group and gender got first crack at entry in the Boston Marathon until the cap was reached, beginning with those who had a time 20 minutes faster than required.

The cut-off was still necessary even though the field size was expanded from 30,000 to 31,500 in 2020. Eighty percent of that field is comprised of runners who exceeded the qualifying standards. The rest of the field is allotted to charity teams and other invited runners.

The breakdown of qualified athletes includes:

  • 4,051 who met their qualifying time by 20 minutes or faster
  • 6,772 who met their qualifying time by 10 minutes or faster
  • 6,948 who met their qualifying time by 5 minutes or faster
  • 5,885 who met their qualifying time by 1 minute, 39 seconds or faster

Although there are, no doubt, some disappointed qualifiers out there, the margin by which runners needed to beat their standards was smaller. In 2019, the field was 4:54 faster than its qualifying times and in 2018 it was 3:23 faster. The 2020 cutoff is the lowest since 2015, when it was 1:02. That, however, was when the qualifying times were 5 minutes slower, so those making the final cut-off are now running 5:37 faster than they were 5 years ago.

Runners aiming for the Boston Marathon in 2021 have until September 2021 to post their qualifying times—the window opened September 14, 2019, and the Boston qualifying times remain the same as for the 2020 race.

Boston Marathon Qualifying Standards