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Best Marathons to Qualify for Boston

Qualifying for the Boston Marathon is a dream for many runners. While proper training is the most important factor in your ability to hit your qualifying time, if you’re looking for that extra 5% edge, finding the perfect race to qualify at is of critical importance.

Ideally, you want to find a race that has an easy course and good weather. Perhaps even more important, it helps if you can find other runners looking to achieve the same goal. Together, you can help pace each other, provide motivation, and take pressure off the monumental task.

The following is a list of the marathons with the highest percentage of Boston qualifiers according to data collected in 2011. Of course, you can qualify at any eligible race, but finding others to run with just might be the extra 5% you need to achieve your Boston Qualifying goal!


best marathons to qualify for boston

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<img src=” width=”450″ height=”2246″ /> View full image <a href= title=”Best-Marathons-to-Qualify-for-Boston” style=”color:#0000FF;text-align:left”> Best Marathons to Qualify for Boston</a>


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8 Responses on “Best Marathons to Qualify for Boston

  1. I love your site, and I do love the infographic. But I work as an editor, so I’m just sending the gentle hint that you guys might benefit from a designated spell checker.

    Thank you for all you do!

    • Thanks, Anne! Just noticed the spelling mistakes in the infographic. I never thought to check for those. I sent to the designer and just assumed they would spell all the data right. You know what they say about assuming…

  2. I like this infographic idea! And while I find this chart interesting, I wonder if it’s a little misleading for people chasing their first BQ. I know that my fastest marathon times actually go in REVERSE of this chart (1. Marine Corp, 2. Richmond, 3. Philly, 4. Boston), and that I think some of the year-in year-out “faster” courses are found near the bottom of the list.

    I’m not sure of the best way to graph this, but I would bet the list would be different if solely considering what race gives runners who are on the bubble the best chance of hitting a BQ. Perhaps if marathons published how many first-time BQ finishers they have each year, that would be a better barometer for people who are pursing that dream.

    Of course marathons with time entry standards equal to or harder than a BQ will have the highest rate of BQs. So, if you’re already run a BQ and are looking for another or are training at paces comfortably under the mark, then this works well.

    Also, there are some races in the top 10 with very small sample sizes, and it’s hard to eliminate certain conditions or exceptions when basing the ranking on 70 finishers. Perhaps doing two charts — one for races with 1,000+ finishers and one for races with 999 or fewer, would help compare apples to apples.

    Thanks for doing this!

    • Awesome, insightful comment Jilane. It’s much appreciated.

      I totally agree, the data is a little misleading, but it’s the best we have to go on for now since Boston doesn’t release a lot of actual data on the athletes who register.

      You have a lot of valid points and I think you’re right about identifying those that are on the bubble. What would be really interesting (and perhaps possible by someone who is good at database mining) is to compare previous marathon times to those who BQ’d to identify those who were on the bubble and the race that “pushed them over the edge”.

      Either way, there are a lot of variables (training, weather, etc) but it’s a fun look at the data that is currently available. I appreciate the feedback and I think we’ll start doing a few more infographics. At least they’re fun to look at and generate some good thought and discussion!

    • I suspect we’re using different data. Marathonguide probably has much better access to the data than I do since that’s their main business. I had a researcher look through results and calculate manually whereas they might have a database that is more/less accurate (probably more). For example, if someones age was categorized wrong, we’d miss it. Since I know they publicize this list, I personally told the researcher not to look at it since I didn’t want to just copy it.

  3. Do you know what it takes for an RD to get a marathon to be a BQ race? There must be some parameters (requirements). Please advise.

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