Getting up Heartbreak Hill is hard enough . . . but first, you must meet strict Boston Marathon qualifying times to even enter the race. 

Qualifying times have changed slightly from recent years.  So yes - that means meeting the mark will be tougher than ever.

Marathon qualifying times are based on what your age will be on the day when the Boston Marathon in which you want to participate will be held.  These requirements apply to everyone:

  • You must be at least 18 years old. 
  • Furthermore, you must achieve the qualifying time on a certified course approved by U.S.A. Track and Field, or the international equivalents designated by the Boston Athletic Association (BAA), which organizes the Boston Marathon.

Fastest runners get to register first, plus if the number of qualified applicants registering for the race exceeds number that can be accepted based on the field size limit (which is almost always true), you'll need an even faster time in order to survive the cut-off - so think of these qualifying times as just the first step to getting admitted to this elite race.

For the first time, BAA welcomes nonbinary athletes to submit applications for next April's race if they have completed a marathon as a non-binary participant during the current qualifying period.  The online application form includes nonbinary as a gender option, although BAA is still in the process of establishing qualifying standards.

See the list below to find the exact qualifying times for each class and the cut-off times for prior years.

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Boston Marathon Qualifying Times:  Can You Make the Cut? 

Boston Marathon runners

Are you thinking that if 30,000+ athletes from all over the world can qualify for the Boston Marathon, you can too? 

To compete in the Boston Marathon, you must meet the qualification requirements within a 12-month period before the September registration date for the April race.  In other words, you need to achieve a qualifying time between approximately 7 and 19 months before you run the race in April. 

So, for the qualifying window for the 2023 Marathon on April 17, 2023, you will need to meet the qualifying time for your division as early as September 1, 2021 and prior to registering for the April race during September, 2022. 

Look for the exact dates to be published on the BAA website in May.  You can also find the date on Boston Discovery Guide's Event Calendar for September.

To find out if you can qualify, check your age group (remember - not for your age today, but for the age you will be when the race takes place) and race category below.  And be sure to check the cut-off time limits during prior years as well.

If these qualifying times seem like a stretch, get out your running shoes, plan your Boston Marathon training program, and start working to achieve your goals today!

Boston Marathon Qualifying Times by Age Group & Gender

Qualifying times for the Boston Marathon have become more difficult to meet during the past few decades.

These are the current qualifying times for men and women, with qualifying times for nonbinary applicants still to be determined:


  • 18-34:  3 hrs 00 min 00 sec
  • 35-39:  3 hrs 5 min 00 sec
  • 40-44:  3 hrs 10 min 00 sec
  • 45-49:  3 hrs 20 min 00 sec
  • 50-54:  3 hrs 25 min 00 sec
  • 55-59:  3 hrs 35 min 00 sec
  • 60-64:  3 hrs 50 min 00 sec
  • 65-69:  4 hrs 5 min 00 sec
  • 70-74:  4 hrs 20 min 00 sec
  • 75-79:  4 hrs 35 min 00 sec
  • 80 & over:  4 hrs 50 min 00 sec


  • 18-34:  3 hrs 30 min 00 sec
  • 35-39:  3 hrs 35 min 00 sec
  • 40-44:  3 hrs 40 min 00 sec
  • 45-49:  3 hrs 50 min 00 sec
  • 50-54:  3 hrs 55 min 00 sec
  • 55-59:  4 hrs 5 min 00 sec
  • 60-64:  4 hrs 20 min 00 sec
  • 65-69:  4 hrs 35 min 00 sec
  • 70-74:  4 hrs 50 min 00 sec
  • 75-79:  5 hrs 5 min 00 sec
  • 80 & over:  5 hrs 20 min 00 sec

Unlike earlier years, an additional 59 seconds will NOT be accepted for qualifying times.  In fact, you cannot go even 1 second over the qualifying time.

For example, a qualifying time of 4:20:59 or 4:20:01 for a 62 year old woman will NOT be accepted.

The Qualifying Time "Cut-Off":  Why Some Athletes Who Qualify Won't Be Accepted

The number of qualifying applicants has exceeded the marathon field size during recent years.  Since 2012, applicants have been cut for all but two years and the trend seems likely to continue.  Last year was one of the two exceptions: the field size was set to 30,000, and all qualified applicants were accepted.

So how are eligible runners cut in order to keep within the field size limit?

Each year, after all registration applications have been received and the number of qualified applicants over the limit is calculated, a "cut-off time" is established. 

"Cut-off time" is literally the minimum number of minutes and seconds you must subtract from the qualifying time from your race class in order to be accepted.  And here's the catch: you won't know what the cut-off time will be until long after you've qualified and submitted your application.

Here are the field sizes, cut-off time (minutes:seconds), and number of qualified applicants not accepted for each year since 2012:

2012 Boston Marathon Cut-Offs

  • Field size:  27,000
  • Cut-Off Time:  1:14
  • Qualifiers Not Accepted:  3,228

2013 Boston Marathon Cut-Offs

  • Field size:  30,000
  • Cut-Off Time:  0:00
  • Qualifiers Not Accepted:  0

2014 Boston Marathon Cut-Offs

  • Field size:  36,000
  • Cut-Off Time:  1:38
  • Qualifiers Not Accepted:  2,976

2015 Boston Marathon Cut-Offs

  • Field size:  30,000
  • Cut-Off Time:  1:02
  • Qualifiers Not Accepted:  1,947

2016 Boston Marathon Cut-Offs

  • Field size:  30,000
  • Cut-Off Time:  2:28
  • Qualifiers Not Accepted:  4,562

2017 Boston Marathon Cut-Offs

  • Field size:  30,000
  • Cut-Off Time:  2:09
  • Qualifiers Not Accepted:  2,957

2018 Boston Marathon Cut-Offs

  • Field size:  30,000
  • Cut-Off Time:  3:23
  • Qualifiers Not Accepted:  5,062

2019 Boston Marathon Cut-Offs

  • Field size:  30,000
  • Cut-Off Time:  4:53
  • Qualifiers Not Accepted:  7,248

2020 Boston Marathon Cut-Offs

  • Field size:  31,500
  • Cut-Off Time:  1:39
  • Qualifiers Not Accepted:  3,161

2021 Boston Marathon Cut-Offs

  • Field size:  20,000
  • Cut-Off Time:  7:45
  • Qualifiers Not Accepted:  9,215

2022 Boston Marathon Cut-Offs

  • Field size:  30,000
  • Cut-Off Time:  0:00
  • Qualifiers Not Accepted:  0  (Due to Covid; see additional info below)

(Source: BAA website)

How to Make Sure You Won't Be Cut from Qualifying for the Boston Marathon

How can you make sure that if you qualify, you don't get cut?  The quick answer:  Make sure your qualifying time is a few minutes below the below the required time for your age group.  And then drop a few more minutes from your time just to be safe.  (And yes, that's much easier said than done.)

Although there is no foolproof way to predict or know the "safe" number in advance, you can look at the cut-off times above and see that during most years a qualifying time of 2 or 3 minutes below the official maximum time for your age/gender would have been sufficient.  In 2019 you would have needed to come in roughly 5 minutes below.  

You can disregard the 2021 cut-off time, as field size shrank by more than a third due to restrictions caused by the pandemic and made qualifying even more competitive than normal.  But of course achieving a qualifying time 8 or so minutes lower than the max time for your class is always a worthy goal.

Similarly, you can also disregard the 2022 results when all qualified applicants made the cut, since far fewer than normal athletes applied due to the ongoing Covid pandemic.

Of course there are no guarantees - but if you want to be accepted for a future Boston Marathon, history suggests that you should aim at a qualifying time of at least 5 minutes, maybe more, less than the maximum time for your age/gender class.

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