Qualifying for Boston in New York City

Written by Jason Saltmarsh

Tim Jones and I have had the pleasure of running together a couple of times. The first time was an early morning training run around the University of Delaware campus. Then again, at the 2014 Gore-Tex Philadelphia Half Marathon as members of the Gore Running team. Tim is a great masters runner and a good friend. We’ll meet again in Boston next April. I can’t wait.

Qualifying for the Boston Marathon

Qualifying for Boston is something that defines distance runners. Even non-runners know that the Boston Marathon is something special. I live 45 minutes outside of Boston and around here it’s the only race that matters.

“Oh, you ran a marathon in New York City? Good fuh you. Whattabout Boston?”

That is word for word, exactly what the elderly librarian at the town library said to me the weekend after my first marathon.

New York City Marathon 2013

It was my first marathon. I was a rookie with no idea what I was in for that day. I walked around the city like a tourist the day before the race. I went out too fast and was ahead of pace at mile 13. I didn’t fuel with anything other than a drink of Gatorade or water at every other aid station. To put it mildly, I was in over my head.

Battling the demons at mile 21

Battling the demons at mile 21

By the time I reached mile 20 I was crawling inside myself and mentally detaching from the race and the people around me. I was introduced to a new kind of suffering that slowed my pace from 7-minute miles to 9-minute miles. My race photos show a determined face staring at the three feet of pavement directly in front of me. Every ragged stride was a small victory.

By the time I crossed the line the clock had reached 3:26:15. I missed my BQ by 11:15 (40-44). The Timex magnet with my official New York City Marathon time on it, would mock me from its place on the refrigerator for the next 12 months. I was happy to complete the distance but unhappy that I had sabotaged myself by running like a newbie.

New York City Marathon 2014

This was the race that qualified me for Boston in 2016. I was a savvy veteran this time around. I rested properly, I ate well, and I had a plan for my pacing and my fueling along the course. And, as a guest of ASICS, I also had an awesome pep talk from some of the best runners in the world.

This is why we do it!

This is why we do it!

Not even the record-setting 50 mph headwinds could keep me from reaching my goal. The blustery winds were so fierce that I literally ran sideways crossing the Verrazano Narrows Bridge. The temps were chilly too. This wasn’t a BQ kind of day.

But it was. I ran a great race and followed my plan. I crossed into the Bronx with my head held high and hurdled the wall that other runners crash into at that stage in the race. I fist pumped to the crowd and roared out loud as I ran towards Central Park. I crossed the line in 3:20:01 and beat my qualifying standard by almost 5 minutes (45-49).

Can You Qualify for Boston in New York City?

You can absolutely qualify for Boston by running the New York City Marathon. New York is 3rd on the list of races that qualifiers come from to get into Boston. The only two in front of it are Chicago and Boston.

Photo Credit tcsnycmarathon.org

Photo Credit tcsnycmarathon.org

Pros of New York City as a Qualifier for Boston

  • The Hype – New York City is one of the biggest and most celebrated cities in the world. On marathon weekend everyone is talking about one thing- the race. You can’t get that level of hype anywhere else. It’s like a running mecca. All out media blitz.
  • The Size of the Race – 50,530 finishers! I don’t care how fast or slow you are, you’ll be surrounded by people who will carry you to the finish. Strength in numbers!
  • The Crowd – The spectators are unbelievably awesome! You cannot imagine what it’s like until you experience it for yourself. Almost 26.2 miles of rock star glory. The only quiet times are on the bridges where it gets eerily quiet and your ringing ears hear nothing but breathing and footsteps – thousands of them.
  • The City of New York– I challenge you to visit this city and not get goosebumps. It is an amazing place. The NYRR and the city of New York roll out a red carpet for the runners to tour the city in a way that nobody else ever can. Revel in it.

Cons of New York City as a Qualifier for Boston

  • The Course – The course is pretty hilly compared to other marathon courses. The bridges will challenge you. Especially, the first one. But, the real kicker is the rolling terrain of Central Park over the last 4 miles of the race.
  • The Size of the Race – There is a downside to running with 50,530 other runners. You can forget about running the tangents and you’ll be forced to slow your pace around the aid stations. A tip from me to you: estimate your time a little on the quick side. This may help you start with a group that won’t get in your way too much during the early miles of the race.

The New York City Marathon is an epic race. Every marathoner should try to run it at least once during their running years. It’s the kind of race that makes for good rocking chair stories no matter what pace you run.

JaJason Bio Picson Saltmarsh
Editor at Saltmarsh Running

Jason is an RRCA certified Adult Distance Running Coach and competitive masters runner from seacoast New Hampshire.  Twitter | Facebook

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