A Look At BQ Times

“Because it’s there” – George Leigh Mallory, on being asked why he wanted to climb Everest.

The great yardstick that many marathoners use as a goal is the BQ – Boston Qualification time. These times are graded by age and gender, and are listed here. Getting your BQ in an eligible race entitles you to run the Boston Marathon, whose desirability is thereby increased. Like Mallory, we seek to conquer it because it’s there.

Now that I have my BQ, I fell to wondering how good a yardstick they really are. Are they tweaked to encourage certain groups of runners to enter? Perhaps we should be setting ourselves age-graded goals. Whoohoo, I cracked 60% AG!

So, just for grins and giggles I thought I would age-grade the BQ times. I used the RW Age Grading Calculator . The results are in the table below. I gave a Low and High AG for each age group, to correspond with the low and high ages within that group. Those nice people at the BAA cut off the seconds, for instance 3:10:59 counts as 3:10. So I added 59 seconds to each time.
For each age group, I’ve given two AG Corrected Times, for the low and high ages, and expressed them as corrected times. Since these are supposed to compare with the best people of the same gender, you can’t compare between genders with these tables.

Here are the men:

Mens Age Graded BQ Times
18-34 3:10:59 3:03:38 3:10:59
35-39 3:15:59 3:15:59 3:12:51
40-44 3:20:59 3:16:08 3:09:42
45-49 3:30:59 3:17:26 3:10:41
50-54 3:35:59 3:13:27 3:06:33
55-59 3:45:59 3:13:21 3:06:07
60-64 4:00:59 3:16:31 3:08:49
65-69 4:15:59 3:18:29 3:10:18
70-74 4:30:59 3:19:15 3:09:25
75-79 4:45:59 3:16:49 3:02:26
80 plus 5:00:59 3:07:42

This looks pretty good, considering that the times go up in 5 or 10 minute increments. That’s the main appeal of BQ’s, they are easy to remember. The 18 year olds have it tough, because they’re not as fast as runners in their 20’s who are in the same group. it also gets a bit stiffer for the 80 year olds.

It’s a different story for the ladies, I’m afraid.

Womens Age Graded BQ Times
18-34 3:40:59 3:37:02 3:38:49
35-39 3:45:59 3:42:48 3:37:07
40-44 3:50:59 3:40:02 3:30:44
45-49 4:00:59 3:37:13 3:26:43
50-54 4:05:59 3:28:19 3:17:36
55-59 4:15:59 3:22:50 3:11:41
60-64 4:30:59 3:19:54 3:07:23
65-69 4:45:59 3:14:18 2:59:50
70-74 5:00:59 3:05:15 2:48:42
75-79 5:15:59 2:52:35 2:33:49
80 plus 5:30:59 2:36:00

Remember that we can’t compare these to the mens times, we’re just age grading here. Once again, the 18 year olds have have it more difficult than their older bretheren, and then it’s reasonably flat until about age 50. The the corrected times start to drop alarmingly, until our 80 year old BQ-er is required to perform equivalent to Olympic ‘A” qualifying standard. Yikes!

I don’t know why this is. Perhaps the BAA does not agree with the WMA (the Age Grading people) over how fast older women are, or prhaps they are thinking about that 6-hour time limit. So ladies, if you are approaching 50 and have not got around to BQ-ing yet, do it soon!


6 Responses to “A Look At BQ Times”

  1. 1 Christi January 15, 2009 at 10:20 am

    Howdy, I am liking the blog. I followed you over from Girl-in-motion and so far you have had some great thoughts. I really like this current BQ age grading piece. I guess I better get out there and qualify!!!!! And congrats on your qualification!!!

  2. 3 Flo January 15, 2009 at 4:30 pm

    Oh pshaw, Jim.

    Fun and interesting exercise you’ve done here. I like it! And your joke about setting age-grade goals isn’t so out there. One of my main goals is to climb the charts in the beginning of Glover’s book (though he’s using the outdated 1994 WAVA info, so it’d be a tad easier now). I’ve passed Advanced Competitor, next stop…Local Champion.

  3. 4 jime2 January 15, 2009 at 5:44 pm

    Hey, Local Champion! It might be interesting to see how the WAVA tables have evolved over time. Another reason for me to get Glover’s book!

    I dither about putting age grades on my PRs, because I’m in denial about getting older 😉

  4. 5 spaulukonis January 15, 2009 at 7:15 pm

    Guess I’d better get on the stick and BQ before I’m 80!

  1. 1 Weekend Stuff « Running Slightly Late Trackback on January 24, 2009 at 10:14 pm

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Race PRs

5K20:43 (LMJS 6/28/09
12K54:36 (Across Bay 3/21/10)
15K1:09:51 (LMJS 19/27/09)
Half1:31:28 (Kaiser 2012
Marathon 3;13:14 (CIM '11)


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