Boston Marathon Qualifying Times – Simple Guide

Boston Marathon Qualifying Times – Simple Guide

The Boston Marathon is one of the most popular marathons in the world. As a result, it can be quite difficult to qualify for the race.

The goal of this post is to explain the qualifying criteria for the 2021 Boston Marathon. It is updated every year in order to remain accurate. The guideline image below contains the qualifying criteria for men and women respectively. 

Boston Marathon Qualifying Times 2021 JPG
As you can see, the qualifying times for the 2021 Boston Marathon are pretty fast.

There is one super important thing worth pointing out, , from the official Boston Marathon website: “Due to field size limitations, achieving one’s qualifying standard does not guarantee entry into the event, but simply the opportunity to submit for registration.” 

Boston Marathon Cut-Off Times

Unfortunately the cut-off times for the 2021 Boston marathon haven’t been established yet. However, it is possible to estimate the cut-off time, based on previous years. The table below has more details. 

Field Size

Cut-Off Time




























Based on the last 4 years of the race, it’s reasonable to estimate that the cut-off time for the 2021 Boston Marathon will be around 3 minutes and 30 seconds.

What Does The 'Cut-Off' Time Mean?

Every year, the number of applicants exceeds the number available spots in the marathon. As a result, a cut-off time is established.  The cut-off time is usually 1 to 4 minutes faster than the official qualifying time. 

In other words, to increase the likelihood of qualifying for the marathon, it is helpful to set a target that is 3 minutes  faster than the official qualifying time

Frequently Asked Questions

Is it hard to qualify for the Boston Marathon?

In short, it most definitely is. For instance, a man between the age of 40-44 will need to run a time of 3hrs 10 minutes or less. A woman between the age of 40-44 will need to run a time of 3hrs and 40 minutes or less.

These are very respectable marathon times. Regardless of your age or gender, you will need to be a pretty serious marathon runner to have a shot of qualifying for the Boston Marathon. You can view the 

Can you qualify for Boston with a half marathon time?

In one word “NO”. The Boston Marathon doesn’t accept half marathon times as part of the qualifying criteria. You either need to meet the qualifying times, or apply through a charity that is connected to the event. 

Can you run the Boston Marathon without qualifying?

Believe it or not, it is actually possible to run the Boston Marathon without qualifying. In order to do so, you need to apply through one of the official Boston Marathon Charities. 

You can find the full list of supported charities here: BAA Official Charities

Just keep in mind that you need to make contact with the charity of your choice to initiate the application. You also need to raise at $5,000 for the selected charity. 

So either you need to run a super fast qualifying time, or you need to raise $5000 for one of the official charities. Those are basically the two ways to gain entry to the Boston Marathon. 

Keen To Apply for the Marathon?