Boston Marathon Dilemma: Too Many Women?

Qualifying standards may be too soft for fairer sex
By Kevin Spak,  Newser Staff
Posted Oct 14, 2010 9:58 AM CDT
Boston Marathon Dilemma: Too Many Women?
The elite women start the 114th running of the Boston Marathon in Hopkinton, Mass., Monday, April 19, 2010.   (AP Photo/Michael Dwyer)

Registration for the Boston Marathon opens up Monday, and if you’re interested, you’d better sign up quick. All 21,000 available slots are expected to fill up within a matter of days—which might, for the first time, leave the New York City Marathon meaningless as a qualifier, the Wall Street Journal reports. Part of the reason: It’s too easy for women to qualify. The qualifying times for women are 30 minutes slower than for men.

But the typical gap between elite men and elite women is closer to 20 minutes. For non-elite runners, the benchmarks look even stranger—a 50- to 54-year-old man is expected to be 5 minutes faster than even the youngest, fastest women. “People don’t realize that many women today run faster than the men who won the Boston Marathon in the past,” says one Boston-area running coach. The result: women made up a greater percentage of Boston Marathon runners (42%), than they do of marathoners overall. (Read more Boston Marathon stories.)

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