I was initially asked about Brett Kavanaugh’s Boston credentials immediately after he was nominated for the U.S. Supreme Court. With the Senate confirmation hearings beginning on Monday and his Boston Marathons being mentioned, I have received more requests.
His bib numbers for 2010 and 2015 were in the range of charity (or non-qualifying) bibs. He either raised the required money for charity or received a ‘guest bib’ – bibs given without the qualification requirement to local dignitaries, sponsors, etc. So, he did not cheat in order to run the Boston Marathon.
OK, I admit it, I kind of hoped that Judge Kavanaugh used a bib mule or cut the course to gain entry into the 2010 and 2015 Boston Marathons. It would have been the chance to hear Marathon Investigation mentioned on the Senate floor and to possibly testify at the confirmation hearings.
With registration opening for the 2019 Boston Marathon on September 10th, I felt that now was a good opportunity to detail some of the alternate ways in which runners gain entry to the Boston Marathon. If you’ve missed the cutoff in the past or fear you may miss it this year, you may just want to stop reading.
Most runners are aware of the Boston Marathon’s charity program. Every year there are over 5,000 runners running with bib numbers that start somewhere after 25000. Most of those runners gain entry by raising money for one of the approved charities. In 2018, over $36 million was raised through the Boston Marathon participants. What some may not know is that the charity runners are not the only runners that are legitimately running Boston without qualifying times.
Not all Non Qualifying Runners are Wearing Charity Bibs
When I first started reviewing Boston results, I was confused by an anomaly in the results. I see this every year. A small band of seemingly random results in the 15500s.
These runners were granted bibs without running the qualifying times. I’ve determined that these bibs are assigned to runners with particularly long streaks. The runners I checked in this band of results all had streaks of greater than 20 years.
There is a bit of a misconception in regards to exemptions given to runners. In particular, relating to runners that have completed 10 or more Boston Marathons. These runners are not guaranteed entry to the Boston Marathon. However, any runner that has completed 10+ marathons and has a current qualifying time is offered entry for the next years race. They only need to meet the qualifying standard. There is a different registration period for these runners.
International Tour Program
The B.A.A. does offer an International Tour Program to encourage participation from a number of countries. Travel agencies listed on the B.A.A. website have access to a limited number of non-qualifying bibs. The bibs can be bought as part of a travel package through these agencies, and the participant must be a citizen of the country in which the travel agency is located. So a U.S. citizen cannot purchase a bib through the International Tour Program.
There have been instances where travel agencies that are not members of the International Tour Program have obtained bibs for re-sale without BAA approval. Planet Tours in France was caught doing this two separate years. Leading up to 2017, multiple runners had their bibs pulled just weeks before the Marathon after this travel agency used bib mules to qualify customers for Boston.
Do not purchase a bib through an agency that is not an approved travel partner.
There are an unknown number of entries given to sponsors or other guests (military, civil service, etc.).
When I come across a runner and cannot find a qualifying race, I can typically determine with reasonable confidence that they gained entry under one of these programs.
Some of these programs are not well-known, and some the runners that miss the cutoff are likely to be annoyed by the existence of the International Travel Program or the unknown number of bibs that go to sponsors or other unqualified runners. But I put this article out there, as I have with similar articles over the last few years, so that we don’t first think ‘cheat’ when someone is spotted running Boston that we don’t feel is qualified.
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