Does Boston Marathon Have A Lottery

As an avid runner, one of my dreams has always been to participate in the prestigious Boston Marathon. However, with its strict qualifying standards, I often wondered if there was another way to secure a spot in this iconic race. That’s when I began to explore the question: does the Boston Marathon have a lottery?

What is a Lottery Entry?

A lottery entry is a system where individuals submit their names for a chance to be selected randomly and gain entry into a highly sought-after event, such as the Boston Marathon. Lotteries are often used as a way to give everyone an equal opportunity to participate, regardless of their running abilities or qualifying times.

The Boston Marathon Lottery

Unfortunately, the Boston Marathon does not have a general lottery system like many other races. Unlike some races where you can simply sign up and hope for the best, the Boston Marathon requires runners to meet specific qualifying standards in order to be eligible to participate. These standards are based on gender, age, and previous race times.

The Boston Athletic Association (B.A.A.), the organization responsible for organizing the Boston Marathon, established these qualifying standards to ensure that participants are able to complete the notoriously challenging course and to maintain the elite status of the race.

Qualifying for the Boston Marathon

To qualify for the Boston Marathon, runners must meet certain time requirements based on their age and gender. These requirements are designed to demonstrate a runner’s ability to complete the marathon within a specific time frame.

For example, as a 30-year-old male, I would need to complete a previous marathon with a time of 3 hours and 10 minutes or faster in order to qualify for the Boston Marathon. The qualifying times become more lenient for older age groups, but they still require a significant level of dedication and training.

Alternatives to Qualifying

If you do not meet the qualifying standards for the Boston Marathon, there are a few alternative ways to secure a spot in the race:

  1. Charity Entries: Many charities have official partnerships with the Boston Marathon and offer guaranteed entries to runners who fundraise a certain amount of money for their cause. This allows individuals who may not meet the qualifying standards to still participate and support a good cause.
  2. International Entries: The Boston Marathon reserves a limited number of entries for international runners who meet specific criteria. This provides an opportunity for runners from around the world to participate in the race, even if they do not meet the qualifying times required for domestic entrants.
  3. Legacy Entries: The Boston Marathon also offers legacy entries to runners who have completed a certain number of consecutive Boston Marathons. This rewards the dedication and commitment of long-time participants, ensuring they have the opportunity to continue their streak.


While the Boston Marathon does not have a general lottery system, there are still alternative options for securing a spot in this iconic race. Whether through charity entries, international entries, or legacy entries, individuals who do not meet the qualifying standards can still fulfill their dream of participating in the Boston Marathon.

As for me, I will continue to train and work towards achieving the qualifying time. The Boston Marathon is not just a race; it is a symbol of dedication, perseverance, and the triumph of the human spirit. And one day, I hope to cross that finish line and join the ranks of the Boston Marathon finishers.