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Finding Your Fastest Route to Boston: How to Choose the Right Marathon Race to Run a BQ

Updated: Jan 18

The number one thing you can do to improve your chances of qualifying for the Boston Marathon is to pick the right race.  Some races are just, plain and simple, much faster than other races.  There are MANY reasons why some courses run faster times than others. Here’s a few: the elevation profile might be more favorable (aka net downhill), the time of year the race is run might consistently produce better running weather, the race might attract more BQ ready runners making the packs and pacing better, the race might just be run on smoother nicer roads that lend to running faster, some races have better aid stations and organization etc etc etc.

Wit that being said, first look at this site 

They rank all the factors of how likely it is for a runner to qualify for Boston at each race.  Write down all the races you think might work for you from a travel, logistics, and annual planning perspective, and then work with your coach to figure out a plan of how to put together a multi-seasonal plan.  You need to act quickly and think not only long term, but very far into the future because many of the good races sell out MONTHS in advance.

Choose the right race to run a Boston Qualifying time aka a BQ

What is the best marathon to qualify for the Boston Marathon?  Well if I had to give one answer I’d say CIM.  It’s the perfect mid size, slightly downhill race that is run incredibly well by its organization.  But when you start to look at these lists, you’ll see TONS of other great options.

Here's the list that the Boston Athletic Association lists on their own website of the Top Qualifying races:

  • Boston Marathon

  • Chicago Marathon

  • New York City Marathon

  • California International Marathon

  • Philadelphia Marathon

  • Erie Marathon

  • Mountains 2 Beach Marathon

  • REVEL Mt Charleston Marathon

  • Berlin Marathon

  • Indianapolis Monumental Marathon

  • Twin Cities Marathon

  • London Marathon

  • St George Marathon

  • Richmond Marathon

  • Grandma's Marathon

  • Ottawa Marathon

  • Phoenix Marathon

  • Baystate Marathon

  • REVEL Big Cottonwood Marathon

  • Lehigh Valley Via Marathon

  • Steamtown Marathon

  • Marine Corps Marathon

  • Mohawk Hudson River Marathon

  • Jack and Jill's Downhill Marathon

  • Bayshore Marathon

*The list above does NOT reflect how many individuals achieve a qualifying performance at each respective event. The list above does NOT represent a complete list of marathons used to qualify for the Boston Marathon.

Now what should you do if you can't find a race on there that you can run? Well first ask around in your community which races nearby might be good for a BQ. Go to your local running store and ask them! Or search 'best boston qualifying races near (insert your area)'

Look at any potential races making sure the elevation profile is favorable and they plan on having a lot of stocked aid stations. Preferably every mile.

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