Boston Marathon Changes Registration Process to Get Faster Runners

After a disastrous qualification day in which 26,800 spaces filled up online for the 2011 Boston Marathon in less than eight hours, the Boston Athletic Association is revamping the registration process.

According to USA Today, the association hopes to narrow the field so that fast runners aren't beat out by those who are less qualified. This year, key runners were left out because slots were filled so rapidly.

The new process, set to be implemented Sept. 12 to 23 for the 2012 marathon, will utilize a two-week online registration that would allow runners with the best times to apply multiple times for a space.

Boston Athletic Association executive director Tom Grilk said the goal of the changes is to allow good runners who have surpassed qualification standards to have a better chance to compete.

"For us to tell people who have done that that there was no room for them was a very bitter pill for us," he said. "Not as bitter as it was for them, but bitter nonetheless."

With the new registration, however, qualifying for the race does not guarantee that the runner will be able to participate. For example, on the first two days, only runners who exceed the time standards for their age group by at least 20 minutes will be able to apply.

Runners who exceed standards by at least 10 minutes must wait until the third day before they can apply. The qualifications are reduced to five minutes below standard for the fifth day. If any spots remain by the end of the first week, applications will be taken for any time, but the fastest runners are given preference.

After the changes were announced, complaints surfaced from noncompetitive marathon runners who said their chances of running the marathon for fun were basically eliminated.

"They'll probably have really good races, and they'll have really hardcore people," said Anthony Anscombe, a Chicago attorney who is concerned that he might not get the chance to run in his third Boston Marathon. "But for people who I guess who would describe themselves like me as a recreational marathon runner, I think it's going to be very hard to run it anymore."

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