Run every Patriot's Day in April, the Boston Marathon has become a premier event for distance runners across the world. That's because the marathon is selective in choosing its field. To qualify, you have to post an official time from another marathon in a competitive range and note it on your race application. Even if you qualify, you may not be able to enter. Registration opens in September for the next year's marathon, and spots fill up rapidly.
If you can't do a marathon in under 4 hours and 55 minutes, you won't be running through Boston on Patriot's Day. That's the qualifying mark for male runners age 80 and older. For the 18-34 set, you'll need a documented time of 3:05 or better. The other qualifying thresholds are 3:10 for ages 35-39, 3:15 for ages 40-44, 3:25 for ages 45-49, 3:30 for those 50-54, 3:40 for those 55-59, 3:55 for runners age 60-64, 4:10 for those 65-69, 4:25 for the 70-74 group and 4:40 for the 75-79 masters. Women runners have qualifying targets that are 30 minutes more than the men. For example, a woman age 18-34 must have bettered 3:35 to qualify.
If you have established a qualifying time, you can submit a registration form along with payment. For the 2015 marathon, the entry fee was $175 for U.S. citizens and $225 for internationals. And if you snooze, you lose. All spots for the 2015 race were filled within five days of registration opening.