BQ Running

BQ Running – UPDATED 2021 – A Complete Guide To Run Your BQ

Ever wanted to know what runners talk about when using the term – BQ running? While it is not a term used worldwide in the running community, it is used widely with American runners . In this article, we look at what it represents and what it means to your running.

BQ Running – A Complete Guide

If you are looking to run the BQ running time for the Boston Marathon, there a few things you need to know.

The Registration happens over two weeks each year. Firstly the BAA (Boston Athletic Association) assesses the registration data and assigns the qualifying standard for each age group and gender.

The fastest runners can register the first week, which usually happens in September each year. Runners who managed to run 20 minutes faster than the qualifying time are allowed to register first. Those who were 10 minutes faster are next in line, followed by the runners who were 5 minutes faster.

In 2020 the Boston Athletic Association (BAA) set new standards for the event. Because the number of marathoners has increased significantly over the past two years, the BAA made adjustments to all age group qualifying standards. In doing so, they have increased the time by five minutes (5:00), making it faster than in previous years.

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Because of this adjustment, it has become harder to gain entry into the prestigious event each year. Average times are getting faster as more people are trying to enter each year. So you will need to focus more on your marathon training if you want to participate.

What Is BQ In Running?

When a runner tells you they BQ’d, what does it mean? It means the runner has achieved the Boston Marathon Qualifying time (BQ) for their age and gender. They are then able to apply for entry into the Boston Marathon.

Although this may sound simple, it is a little more complicated than that. With the Boston Marathon registration process, there are two possible answers.

Answer 1: A runner has BQ’d when they have successfully run a time equal to or better than the ‘Standard Qualifying’ time for their gender and age group. For example, you may have BQ’d if you ran 3:20:00 or better. But the capability of signing up for the event is irrelevant to this definition.

Answer 2: A runner has BQ’d when they meet the qualifying time that allows them to register for the event – If they choose to do so. For example, you may have qualified for the 2021 event if you had run 3:18:00 or better during the qualifying period. But it’s not possible to know 100% who has the BQ for the 2021 race until the window has closed in September. Once the BAA has announced the cut-off times, you will know if you have gained entry or not.

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Run Your BQ

How To Run Your BQ? Getting Started

Knowing how to run your BQ is vital if you are looking to run the event. If you don’t have a running coach or follow a training plan, there are a few tips that can help you succeed.

First, make sure you have plenty of time to train for the marathon. Ideally, you want to have around 20-22 weeks of preparation or more if you are a beginner runner.

A solid marathon training has a lot of ingredients to be successful. The bread and butter of marathon training include tempo runs, long runs, strides, strength exercises, and the right amount of recovery.

Using all these key ingredients with the right periodization will help you arrive in top shape.

Average Mile Time To Qualify For Boston Marathon

Average Mile Time To Qualify For Boston Marathon

The average mile time to qualify for the Boston Marathon tends to get faster every year. For the 2020 event, runners had to go an average of 1:39 faster than the previous year’s qualifying times.

Below is a breakdown of the average mile time needed for each age group and gender. This table gives you a good indication of what time and pace you need to run.

 Men’s Qualifying Times For Boston

Age Group Men Required Pace
18-34 3 Hrs. 00 Mins 6:51
35-39 3 Hrs. 05 Mins 7:03
40-44 3 Hrs. 10 Mins 7:14
45-49 3 Hrs. 20 Mins 7:38
50-54 3 Hrs. 25 Mins 7:49
55-59 3 Hrs. 35 Mins 8:12
60-64 3 Hrs. 50 Mins 8:46
65-69 4 Hrs. 05 Mins 9:21
70-74 4 Hrs. 20 Mins 9:55
75-79 4 Hrs. 35 Mins 10:29
80+ 4 Hrs. 50 Mins 11:04
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 Women’s Qualifying Times For Boston

Age Group Women Required Pace
18-34 3 Hrs. 30  Mins 8:01
35-39 3 Hrs. 35  Mins 8:12
40-44 3 Hrs. 40  Mins 8:23
45-49 3 Hrs. 50  Mins 8:46
50-54 3 Hrs. 55  Mins 8:58
55-59 4 Hrs. 05  Mins 9:21
60-64 4 Hrs. 20  Mins 9:55
65-69 4 Hrs. 35  Mins 10:29
70-74 4 Hrs. 50  Mins 11:04
75-79 5 Hrs. 05 Mins 11:38
80+ 5 Hrs. 20 Mins. 12:12


While you may run the time needed, the BAA has a set number of participants they let into the event. If more people qualify than can be accommodated, only the fastest qualifiers in each group will be accepted.

Training For Boston Qualifying Time

If you set a goal of making the Boston qualifying time (BQ Running Time), it is wise to know past qualifying times from your age group. Once you know how fast you need to run, you can set about planning your training well ahead of time.

First, look for a qualifying course that is preferably flat or with minimal hills. Unless you are a strong runner, then a hillier race may suit you.

We recommend you to sign up for a marathon training plan or running coach. They can help you prepare you for running the fastest time possible and provide you with added motivation on your journey.


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