If you’re watching the 2016 Boston Marathon and getting the itch to participate, better lace up your best sneakers.
You can’t just pay to enter this race, which will run for the 121st time in 2017. Runners have to participate in a sanctioned outdoor marathon, and finish with a minimum qualifying time based on gender and age group.
Additionally, you must complete the marathon within two years of the expected Boston Marathon date, which is April 17, 2017. That means that your qualifying time must come from a marathon occurring on or after September 19, 2015. You can’t just save your best time and use it for every marathon.
Even a qualifying time doesn’t guarantee entrance. This year there are 4,562 runners who qualified and submitted their registration, but simply weren’t fast enough to make the final cut.
If you think you’re fast enough for the Boston Marathon, here are the minimum qualifying standards for 2017:
Age 18-34: 3:05
80 and over: 4:55
Age 18-34: 3:35
80 and over: 5:25
The deadline to submit qualifying times has not been announced, but the last chance for this year’s race was February 1. That gives you 10 months to train and complete a qualified marathon.
But what if you don’t want to?
If Boston is the only marathon for you, there’s still hope. You can gain entrance by representing an official affiliated Boston Marathon charity. The Boston Marathon Charity Program features both local and national organizations, and they all select their representatives individually. But be prepared to work for it, as running for an official charity requires a minimum fundraising effort of $5,000.