A Guide To Getting Into The 2014 Boston Marathon

Interest in the 2014 Boston Marathon has skyrocketed, as demonstrated by the chart below published by RunTri.com.

Google Graph

Although most people have a general understanding of the ways you can get into the marathon, which is to say either qualify or run for a charity, but I thought it would be helpful to try to lay out the details here, particularly when it comes to charities.  There is also a third path, through “exempt” bibs, such as those given to running clubs that volunteer with the BAA, which I will discuss briefly.  It should also be noted that many charity teams will take on qualified runners as well, i.e. runners who get a bib on their own but still want to raise money and take part of the amenities a charity team might provide.


Ah, the elusive quest to achieve a time that is a “Boston Qualifier” or “BQ.”  For Boston 2013, it was still possible to qualify in October 2012, as many runners got their BQ in Chicago and then immediately raced to their smartphones to register.  This was the first year of tightened qualifying times, which not only chopped off 5 minutes from the old standard, but eliminated the 1 minute “buffer,” i.e. you met a qualifying standard of 3:10 if you ran 3:10:59.  Boston 2012 was the last year with the old standards but instituted a rolling registration process.  As I understand it, runners with times around BQ – 1:15-1:30 or so made the cut.  For 2014, it can be expected that a large number of runners will push even harder to BQ, the question will be whether that will be enough with the increased interest and, consequently, how much faster than your personal BQ time will you have to run.  For reference, the standards are below:

BQ Times

For 2014, there will again be rolling registration, with BQ-20 runners being the first to register, followed by BQ-10 and then everyone else.  The takeaway of all this is, the faster your “BQ minus” is, the better chance you’ll have to register as a qualified runner.  The date for registration for 2014 to open up hasn’t been set yet, but it will be some point in September, so start planning your race schedule now!

Charity Runner

Here’s where things start to get complicated.  As an initial matter, there are two groupings of charity bibs: 1. The official Boston Marathon Charities, and 2. Charities picked by John Hancock to receive bibs to dole out.  Between the two, official charities tend to be larger and more organized and have a lower minimum fundraising requirement.  Hancock charities tend to be smaller and cater to more niche causes.  In 2009, the Official charities required a minimum of $3,000 raised.  In 2013, it was $4,000.  Hancock charities had a minimum of $5,000 this year.  For the avoidance of doubt, that’s $4,000 and $5,000 per runner.  It would not be surprising to see both these amounts increase slightly for 2014.

Keep in mind that these are just the minimums set by the BAA and John Hancock for the charities themselves to get the bibs, many charities that have huge demand may ask applicants to pledge more, sometimes significantly more, to be accepted into the program.  Charities will request a credit card to keep on file in the event that you don’t meet your fundraising requirement by a designated date, usually about a month after the marathon, though I know some charities are more lenient on this deadline than others.

There are also three other potential costs to keep in mind.  First, many charities require an application fee, presumably to discourage people from applying to every charity out there and then picking which one they want after.  Next, many programs also have a fee, sometimes around $100 to cover the costs of the program, which will likely include your team singlet and costs associated with group runs, buses  and other amenities.  Finally, the BAA charges a higher registration fee for non-qualified runners, roughly double the cost.  I believe in 2013 this meant it cost $300 to run Boston as a charity runner.

Finally, some advice on applying to charity programs for 2014.  If you can set a high fundraising goal for yourself, do so.  Obviously each charity is looking to maximize the funds it can raise through the Boston Marathon so you make yourself a more attractive candidate if you set the bar higher for yourself than the minimum.  It is also helpful to be able to discuss your previous fundraising experience and any preliminary ideas you may have for future fundraising.  Many charities will also ask if you have a personal connection to the cause you are applying to.  It’s not a make or break issue, but it helps.  There’s nothing wrong with applying to teams with the sole goal of finding a way to run Boston, but you will have more success fundraising, and likely just a better experience overall, if you really believe in supporting the cause you are running for.

The 2013 Official Charities

Although the 2014 charities won’t be set for some time, you can be nearly 100% sure to see at least the official charities listed below (with links to their pages where available) in 2014.  I’ve added notes where…I have some notes to add.  A full list of the 2013 BAA Official Charities can be found on the BAA site, for now at least.

Alzheimer’s Association

American Liver Foundation (Run For Research)

I ran with the Run For Research Team in 2009 and it was a great experience.  The team is large, but tight-knit and well supported.  Team members meet on Saturday mornings at FitCorp in Boston to do their long runs on the course together, which runs are supported by volunteers with water and Gatorade and other snacks along the course.  They have been coached for the last two seasons by Jorge Martinez of E3 Training Solutions.  Coach Martinez also leads hill workouts on Tuesday nights.

American Stroke Association – Tedy’s Team

Run for Tedy Bruschi’s charity?  Why the heck not?

Boston Bruins Foundation (2013 link, the foundation home page is here.)

“The Boston Bruins Foundation is a 501(c)(3) non-profit foundation whose mission is to assist charitable organizations that demonstrate a strong commitment to enhancing the quality of life for children throughout New England. Since its inception in July 2003 by the Jacobs Family, it has raised more than $12 million dollars through a series of fundraising events. The Foundation, which provides grants to organizations that meet the standards of its mission, concentrates on athletics, academics, health, and community outreach programs that assist in helping enrich the lives of children throughout New England.”  These guys get to wear singlets with the Bruins logo on them, which always gets a lot of cheers on the course.

Boston Children’s Hospital – Miles For Miracles

Miles For Miracles is a huge team for a great charity.  It’s fairly guaranteed that they are going to have a huge number of applicants for 2014.  The runners I’ve known who have run Boston with this team have loved the experience.

Dana-Farber Cancer Institute

The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society – Team In Training

John Hancock Teams

These are teams that got bibs in 2013, often fewer than the official charities, and may or may not have them again.  This list is by no means exhaustive, in fact it’s much more teams I can think of off the top of my head than anything else, but it should get you started in the right direction.

Girls On The Run Boston

Animal Rescue League

Team Hoyt


A group of charity teams.  Check here for a list of charities supported as part of the program.

GoKids Boston

Other Exempt Bibs

In exchange for running clubs and other organizations providing volunteers for BAA events, the BAA gives those groups a certain number of exempt bibs to give to their members as they see fit.  There is no fundraising for these bibs (as far as I know).  For example, I ran in 2012 with a bib I got through the Shamrock Running Club.  In addition, the BAA gives bibs to the towns that are along the marathon course so, if you live along the marathon course, take a look into that.

If you can’t get into Boston 2014 for whatever reason, take solace in knowing that the race will be sold out, that Boston is stronger than ever, and you can spend the day in the sun with some beers cheering everyone else on.

Run Happy!


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33 Responses to “A Guide To Getting Into The 2014 Boston Marathon”

  1. Run To Munch Says:

    I think charity race fees are higher too. $300 as charity vs $150 as a regular runner.

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  4. jronaldlee Says:

    I’d love more information on the application process – what did you experience there? I know application day is coming in less than three weeks (September 9), but I’m not sure what to expect.

    P.S., according to my contact at Leukemia and Lymphoma, their base application commitment is not increasing in 2014. It remains steady at $4,000, but of course, they’re hoping for people who can commit more.

    • Threshold Talent Says:

      Thanks for the comment! It’s so refreshing to get a real one and not some crazy spam. I think most of the applications are relatively the same, they ask questions like why you want to run for a particular charity, what prior fundraising experience you have, what plans you have for future fundraising. They’ll probably also ask about your running experience in general to ascertain whether you are capable of taking on a marathon in the time frame. The applications can be fairly lengthy, but once you have one done a lot of the responses will be applicable for other applications. There will often be a follow-up phone call interview as well. There may also be an application fee. I just saw that the Melanoma Foundation’s application fee is $100!

      Good to hear that the base amount isn’t going up! I think the John Hancock charities are at $5,000 but I saw one that says right in the application that they are looking for runners who will commit to $10,000.

    • jronaldlee Says:

      $10K is a big number. I’ve never participated in a fund raiser like this, so that would be more than I’m comfortable with! I don’t mind the application fee, but $10K… Wow!

    • Timothy Horan Says:

      I’m curious if you have a source for the registration date of September 9th? The BAA hasn’t yet announced when registration opens, but I wasn’t sure if somebody had leaked it??

      • Threshold Talent Says:

        Tim, I’m not sure where the date came from, I couldn’t find anything on it myself. From what I’ve seen, most charities have on their sites that their applications will be up in September with applications through October. Some have told me they don’t know how many bibs they will get yet. Maybe I should be updating the blog when applications become available…

      • jronaldlee Says:

        I tried to reply with a link to the site, and I think the presence of a URL caused the spam filter to snag it. In my opinion, the best thing to do is reach out to the charity you’re interested in running with, and establish a relationship now. I met with some of the leaders for my target team last night at a meet-up they held, and it’s through them that I got the info I have.

      • Threshold Talent Says:

        THAT’S what the spam filter decides to catch?! Go figure. Are you Boston-based? I checked out the Leukemia & Lymphoma page and it doesn’t look like they have an application up or anything on meetings. It would be great to get more info on them!

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