Thursday, February 17, 2011

Desperate times

The day we'd been waiting for has come, when the Boston Athletic Association announced what the fallout would be from last October's registration debacle. The official stance is that qualifying times will not change for 2012, but registration will be opened in tiers: those who BQ by 20 minutes get the first 2 days to themselves, followed by 2 days for those who made it by 10 minutes, 2 days for those who made it by 5 minutes, and a week for those who made it at all. The same process will apply for 2013, but all qualifying times will go down by 5:59.

Of course, this isn't exactly how it will work. The BAA says they'll take all the entrants from the just-made-it group and reorder them to allow entry to only the top qualifiers from each age group. They fully expect the field to fill during this period of registration, so if you qualify by 2 seconds, don't pack your bags.

Thing is, I don't think that whole exercise will even need to take place. I expect the field to fill in 6 days, meaning today's announcement was a de facto 5-minute cut in BQ times for 2012 and an 11-minute cut for '13. The field size will not increase, so you have to compare the number of people who made the cut by less than 5 minutes to the number of folks who got locked out during that infamous 8-hour blitz (and beat the clock by more than 5 minutes). I'd wager a fair amount on the latter.

Now, does this mean the new standards are good or bad? I don't know. They are what they are. I'm not going to moan about elitism and how the new process makes the race a little more inaccessible to the weekend warrior. The BAA can do whatever it wants. I was disappointed to see nothing done about the 30-minute head start for women, a cushion that even a lot of women admit is out of whack, but again, if you want it your way, start your own marathon.

I have three marathons scheduled between now and registration: Cowtown (the first 26.2 of my 50K), Big D and Grandma's. If my prediction 2 paragraphs ago is correct, I need to cut 5:31 off my PR to get to 3:10:59. I'm going to go out with the 3:10 pacer at Cowtown and see what I can do, though there isn't much from my training lately to suggest I'll pull a rabbit out of a hat there. Big D has no pacers and the course is not PR-friendly. That leaves Grandma's, which will also have a 3:10 pacer. I'll have a good 10 weeks between Big D and Grandma's to prepare, the weather should be favorable if temperatures are normal, and the course is (I think) the easiest of these three. That might be my day.

And if it isn't... come back in October 2014.

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