For many runners, the Boston Marathon is the main event, which is why qualifying for—and finishing—the race is such a proud achievement. Last month’s bombings robbed over 5,000 runners of the chance to cross the finish line, and now the Boston Athletic Association (BAA) is giving them another chance.
The 5,633 entrants who passed the halfway point but were stopped by the blasts have been offered guaranteed entry into the 2014 race.
“The opportunity to run down Boylston Street and to cross the finish line amid thousands of spectators is a significant part of the entire Boston Marathon experience,” said the BAA’s director Tom Grilk in a statement. “With the opportunity to return and participate in 2014, we look forward to inviting back these athletes and we expect that most will renew their marathon training commitment.”
The association has not yet made a decision about expanding next year’s field, citing the need for further consultation with public safety officials. Nearly 27,000 runners were granted entry to the 2013 marathon, and of those 23,000 started the race, according to the BAA.
If the BAA does not increase the maximum number of entrants, there is a chance the number of qualifying spots for 2014 will be much smaller than last year.
Interest in running the 2014 marathon is surging, reports Raymond Britt, a marketing executive who analyzes the marathon for RunTri.com. But with the qualifying window drawing to a close in September and the potential reduction of open slots, many prospective runners looking to show their support for Boston at next year’s race may be shut out.