Wednesday, March 30, 2011

THUMBS UP - Gansett Marathon & Salt Lake City half marathon

Charity runners aside, the Boston Marathon is the most exclusive citizen’s running race in the U.S., maybe the world. That’s because, unlike other marathons, obviously, you’ve got to run relatively fast for your age and qualify to get in.

It’s probably not surprising that other non-championship races haven’t followed that formula and set exclusionary time standards. Most road races are trying to get as many runners as their capacity limits will allow, and limiting a race to just fast runners generally doesn't make sense.

However, a Utah race director is going against that trend and following the lead of the April 16 Gansett Marathon by launching a new half marathon that follows the Boston paradigm of requiring all runners to meet strict qualifying standards to gain entry. In fact, the Sept. 5 Prestige Half Marathon in Salt Lake City — like the Gansett Marathon — has qualifying standards that are quite a bit faster than Boston’s for every age group.

For example, the under-30 age group requires men to have run a 1:25 half marathon or 3:00 marathon on a USATF-certified course, while women in the same age group need to run a 1:35 half marathon or a 3:30 full marathon to get in. (See the complete list of standards on this page.) There are relaxed standards for disabled runners (a 3-hour half marathon is required) and the race is also reserving 200 entries for charity runners who raise at least $1,000 for the Huntsman Cancer Foundation.