- For the second year in a row, all runners who applied to run the Boston Marathon will be accepted into the race, as long as they have a valid qualifying time.
- The field size for the 2023 race is set at 30,000 runners, the same size as the 2022 race.
- The 2023 race will take place on April 17. The qualifying period for the 2024 Boston Marathon opened on September 1, 2022, and will likely run until mid-September 2023.
For the second year in a row, everyone who qualified for and applied to the Boston Marathon will get to run.
The Boston Athletic Association (B.A.A.) announced on September 21 that there is no cutoff time for the 2023 race. Applicants who ran a verified qualifying time for their age group and gender during the qualifying period will be accepted into the race, which will be held on April 17, 2023.
The field size of the race is 30,000 runners, which will make the race the same size as the 2022 edition—and almost back to pre-pandemic levels. In 2020, before the pandemic canceled the race, the field size was set at 31,500.
More From Runner's World
But runners have been slow to return to road racing—even as COVID-19 cases have dropped, vaccines and boosters have become widely available, and races have returned to the calendar.
Athletes cite the expense of race entry fees and the high cost of travel required to get to events, wariness about COVID-19, and shifting motivations as reasons why they’re not racing as frequently as they did in 2019 and the early days of 2020.
It appears even the Boston Marathon is not immune from these trends.
Usually 80 percent of the field, or roughly 24,000 spots, are reserved for time qualifiers. The other spots go to elite runners, those running for charity, and special invitational entries.
According to the B.A.A., the race had 23,267 applicants during this year’s registration period. The field of 2023 qualifiers is made up of 13,315 men, 9,930 women, and 22 nonbinary athletes.
In 2019, the B.A.A. received 27,288 applications for the 2020 Boston Marathon (which never happened, due to the pandemic). Application numbers have declined 14.7 percent from pre-pandemic levels.
The drop is in line with what other races are seeing across the U.S.—but somewhat surprising given Boston’s status as the Holy Grail among many marathoners.
Since the 2014 Boston Marathon, running a qualifying time has been no guarantee of entry into the race. Those who beat their qualifying times for their age and gender by the largest margins get in, while those who just squeak by with a qualifier have often been shut out.
Every year, runners eagerly await the announcement of the “cutoff” time—the margin by which you had to beat your qualifying time in order to gain entry into the race. In 2018, that cutoff reached 4:52 for the 2019 race, and more than 7,000 qualified runners who applied did not get in.
That September, the B.A.A. announced it was tightening the entry standards by 5 minutes across all age groups and genders.
Today’s announcement that there is no cutoff could also affect charities. In the past, many qualifiers who didn’t hit the cutoff ran the race for a charity. But with all verified applicants accepted, that reduces the pool of runners seeking bibs—and doing the required fundraising—for nonprofit organizations.
The 2023 race will be the 10th anniversary of the Boston Marathon bombings.
“On Patriots’ Day, the determination, passion, and unity of marathoners will be on display, bringing our community together in the spirit of athletics and our heritage,” said Jack Fleming, acting Chief Executive Officer of the B.A.A., in a release. “We are very much looking forward to the 127th running of the Boston Marathon in just seven months.”
Sarah Lorge Butler is a writer and editor living in Eugene, Oregon, and her stories about the sport, its trends, and fascinating individuals have appeared in Runner’s World since 2005. She is the author of two popular fitness books, Run Your Butt Off! and Walk Your Butt Off!