The Boston Marathon.
Just the name alone can inspire many runners and non-runners alike.
The iconic medal. Heartbreak Hill. The Citgo sign. The turn onto Boylston Street.
Growing up, I can honestly say the Boston Marathon was never something that drew my attention. And even when I was at the very beginning of my running experience, I can’t say that it ever really crossed my mind.
Then, someone I knew from school got a charity place and ran it in 2003. I remember watching the race on TV that year and thinking that it looked like something that would be cool to experience. I thought if he could do it, then so could I.
Up until that time in my life, I had run sporadically and was just beginning to run a little bit more.
But I had still yet to even compete in a 5k race, much less a marathon.
And certainly not The Boston Marathon.
Taking one look at the qualifying time needed for my age group (3:05), pretty much confirmed that this would stay as it was – a hopeless dream.
And I was okay with that.
After running my first marathon in 2005, and finishing in about 5:50, I was over 2.5 hours away from my age group’s qualifying time (3:05).
Over the next four years, I ran four more marathons and improved my finishing time with each one.
But even after running 4:11 in 2009, I was still about one hour away from my age group’s qualifying time.
In my mind though, this still wasn’t a realistic target for me to work towards.
Looking back now, I was making progress – albeit slowly.
So the sensible thing would have been to keep going, right?
I decided it was the perfect time to stop running marathons – or so I thought – after running a time that I was more than happy with.
After all, running the Boston Marathon still wasn’t an actual goal of mine.
Not yet anyway.
As it turns out, I would run another marathon. It just wouldn’t happen for another 10 years.
But when I ran that marathon in Seattle in 2019 in 3:29:25, I realized that this dream that I was never really chasing was perhaps coming a little closer.
Four more years and another four marathons later, I am now just 11 minutes away from the qualifying time for my age group.
So, while qualifying for the Boston Marathon has never ‘officially’ been on my radar, I guess you could say that it has been in the back of my head for a while.
Boston is the only marathon of the World Majors that requires you to meet a qualifying standard for your age group in order to enter the lottery for a chance at a spot on race day. The only other way (besides qualifying) to get into the Boston Marathon is by getting a charity spot.
After years of watching the marathon on TV, last year I had the chance to watch my friend Rune (IG: @runner_mcleodwinther) run in Boston.
And over the course of the weekend, I kind of felt like I was crashing a party that I wasn’t invited to.
It seemed like everyone in town for the race had been there before and was part of an exclusive club. Which I guess they are in many ways.
But what the weekend also showed me was that the runners that qualify for the marathon all have taken different paths. Some qualified with their first marathon, while others had to wait years and years before they qualified.
Just because something seemed improbable at one time, doesn’t mean that it always has to stay that way.
I wish I could say that this story ends with me qualifying for and running the 2023 Boston Marathon.
Unfortunately, that’s not how this story ends.
But maybe there are more chapters to be written in the future.
Right now, it seems just on the edge of possible to me.
Seeing so many runners that I follow (including many of my friends) qualify for Boston and also knowing that many others have done so in the past, serves as a huge source of inspiration that I can also do the same.
For right now though, I am just training as hard as I can to continue to get closer to the time that I will need to qualify for the Boston Marathon. And if I get there eventually I will be extremely happy to become a part of the club.
So, as I sit down to watch this year’s Boston Marathon on TV on Monday (April 17), just as I have over the last 15-20 years, I will wonder what it might feel like to be running in this historic race.
And hopefully one April Monday in the next few years I will become a part of the club of runners to qualify for and run the Boston Marathon.
If you have run the Boston Marathon in the past or it is a goal of yours, let me know in the comments below!