Qualifying for Boston 2014


Got a question about running? You’re in the right place. Every Tuesday, world-renowned coach, author and athlete Hal Higdon posts and answers athlete questions here. You can submit your question by joining the discussions on Hal Higdon’s Virtual Training Bulletin Boards.


I just completed the Boston Marathon and I had a horrible race on what turned out to be a very tragic day. Immediately afterwards, still in shock, I wasn’t even sure I wanted to run a big race again. But after some serious thought, I am fully committed to re-qualifying for Boston and need your help in terms of choosing how soon to race again. At Boston I ran 3:43 and missed my re-qualifying time by 3 minutes. (I have run much better races, my best 3:27.) I live in Minnesota and am looking at Fargo, which is on May 18, or Grandma’s, June 22. I know the Grandma’s course really well, but I worry about hot weather. Fargo looks fast, but I would be running it with only four weeks between marathons. What should I do?


In the wake of the tragedy, a lot of runners have begun to ask me about getting a BQ so they can run Boston in 2014. I suspect the demand to be on that starting line in Hopkinton next year will be huge despite the dangers, perceived or real. Unfortunately, the qualifying window is small with entries due in September.

I have heard good things about Fargo, and Grandma’s is one of my favorite marathons. But you know the Upper Midwest: Weather in late spring is impossible to predict. Grandma’s, with its point-to-point course along the shores of Lake Superior, can be lightning fast if the wind blows from the northeast, offering cool temperatures and a tailwind. With winds from the southwest, resulting in high temperatures coupled with a headwind, you might as well relax and enjoy the scenery. I’m less familiar with Fargo, but suspect that its May race date might offer better weather. Notice intentional insertion of the word “might.”

Still, a June race would allow you eight weeks to prepare: Advantage Grandma’s. Whichever marathon you choose, surf over to my website where I offer Multiple Marathon Training Programs for 2-8 weeks between races. Or, you could delay your next qualifying attempt until September. One runner commenting in my TrainingPeaks Forums, suggested the Wineglass Marathon as a fall option, but I would not look that far ahead. Focus all your attention on whichever late-spring race you choose. I know you will succeed.

Finally, I have not spoken yet to my friends at the Boston Athletic Association. They are busy enough now dealing with the present without worrying about the future. But I will be very surprised if the BAA does not revisit the subject of who gets to run Boston 2014. One issue concerns those runners (wisely) prevented in the last miles of their race from entering Boylston Street, which had become a crime scene. For the 100th running in 1996, the BAA opened its doors and 36,000 ran Boston. I have no inside information yet, but I anticipate some similar accommodation for 2014. The BAA already has said as much on its website, BAA.org. Let’s hope you are one of the runners invited back.

About the Author

Hal Higdon

Hal Higdon is a Contributing Editor for'Runner's World'and author of 34 books, including the best-selling'Marathon: The Ultimate Training Guide. He ran eight times in the Olympic Trials and won four world masters championships. Higdon estimates that more than a quarter million runners have finished marathons using his training programs, and he also offers additional interactive programs at all distances through TrainingPeaks.Hal uses'TrainingPeaks'to power his interactive marathon and half marathon training plans.'Check out more of Hal Higdon's training plans here'or on'his website.

View more posts by Hal Higdon