The Ultimate Guide to Running the 2023 Boston Marathon

The Ultimate Guide to Running the 2023 Boston Marathon

The Boston Marathon, hosted by the Boston Athletic Association (BAA), is the oldest annual marathon in the world. This world-renowned race was first held in 1897 and, except for 2020, has been held in person every year since. Boston Marathon is also one of the Abbott World Marathon Majors.

Boston is many runners’ primary race of the year, and 2023 will be no exception. Hundreds of thousands of runners worldwide will attempt to set a fast enough time to qualify for a spot on the starting line in Hopkinton. Many will try, but only so many will qualify for a bib and a chance to cross the iconic Boylston Street finish line.

What is a fast enough time, though, and when does it have to be run? Continue reading below for the answers to these and many other common questions about the 2023 Boston Marathon.

When is the 2023 Boston Marathon?

The Boston Athletic Association will host the 127th running of the Boston Marathon on April 17, 2023. It is traditionally held on Patriots’ Day, the 3rd Monday in April.

2023 will be the 2nd year in a row with it back on its expected date. The race was canceled for in-person runs in 2020 due to the pandemic and then run in October 2021 to allow for larger crowds, as per pandemic restrictions. 

Why is Boston Marathon so Prestigious?

Boston Marathon is the oldest continuously run marathon in the world, which is a massive part of its draw for runners across the globe. It was inspired by the success of the first marathon competition at the 1896 Summer Olympics and continues to draw runners from around the world to this day.

It is also a very hilly and challenging course, with unpredictable weather ranging from warm and sunny to cold and raining sideways or even snow! The weather in New England can be unpredictable, adding to the race challenge.

As it is one of the Abbott World Marathon Majors, many people will run it simply to complete all 6 of the races and receive their special medal

How to Qualify for the Boston Marathon?

Qualifying for the Boston Marathon is quite a task, which is why so many runners build their training plans around running a BQ (Boston Qualifier) race at some point in their training cycle. 

Qualifying for Boston requires you to run a race that is qualified by the BAA to be a Boston Qualifier at or faster than the qualifying time for your age group. There are qualifier races worldwide, giving runners from across the globe a chance to get into Boston.

Most major and semi-major marathons have certified courses, meaning the BAA should accept them as your qualifying time. If in doubt, contact the race director directly, as they’ll be able to let you know whether the course is certified or not. 

What is a Boston Qualifying Time?

Boston Marathon qualifying times are based on age and sex, and for 2023 are as follows:


18-34 3:00:00 3:30:00 3:30:00
35-39 3:05:00 3:35:00 3:35:00
40-44 3:10:00 3:40:00 3:40:00
45-49 3:20:00 3:50:00 3:50:00
50-54 3:25:00 3:55:00 3:55:00
55-59 3:35:00 4:05:00 4:05:00
60-64 3:50:00 4:20:00 4:20:00
65-69 4:05:00 4:35:00 4:35:00
70-74 4:20:00 4:50:00 4:50:00
75-79 4:35:00 5:05:00 5:05:00
80 & Over 4:50:00 5:20:00 5:20:00


The non-binary division is new for 2023, so the qualifying standards will likely change as they get more results from non-binary runners. 

Does Running a Qualifying Time Mean I’m In?

Not necessarily, no. There are only so many places in the race, and there are generally more qualifiers than race bibs. This means they start with the fastest runners and work their way down the list. Depending on how many people register and how fast they are, it is possible to run a fast enough race in the qualifying period but still not qualify for Boston. (For example, in 2016, runners had to run roughly 2 minutes and 30 seconds faster than the qualifying time to secure a bib.)

This happens to many runners, which is why some athletes will run in multiple BQ races in a season. This gives them the best chance of running their absolute fastest qualifying time. 

In 2022 and again in 2023, any runner who runs a qualifying time will be accepted into the race

When Does My BQ Have to be Run?

For your Boston Qualifier to count towards the 2023 race, it must have been run between September 1, 2021, and September 16, 2022. Any races run before that period can not be used on your registration. 

Are there Other Ways to Get into the Boston Marathon?

There are several other ways to get into Boston Marathon without running a BQ. While there aren’t nearly as many spots available this way, many runners choose one of these options for their chance to run Boston.

Fundraising for a charity is a popular option for many people. There are 2,500 charity spots available each year, most of them given out to local or US-based charities. Most of these charities have a fundraising minimum (usually $5,000 to $10,000) so make sure you do your research on the charity you are considering. 

There are a small number of tour groups that have a very limited number of race bibs available to their clients. As there aren’t many of these bibs available, they usually sell out almost immediately. 

It is also possible to win entry through Boston Marathon sponsors and on social media. 

When is the Boston Marathon Registration Window for 2023?

Unfortunately, the registration window to race in 2023 has already passed, meaning no more entrants can add their qualifying times to the registry. 

The 2023 Boston Marathon registration was only open from September 12 to September 15, 2022.

How Much Does it Cost to Register for the Boston Marathon?

The cost to register for the 127th Boston Marathon is $225 for US residents and $235 for international runners. 

How Many Entrants Get Into the Boston Marathon?

The 2023 Boston Marathon has a field size of 30,000 participants. The breakdown of qualifiers is as follows: 13,315 men, 9,930 women, and 22 non-binary athletes. 

The remainder of the field will be made up of athletes representing charities and sponsors, as well as some professionals and a few others by special invitation.

Is the Boston Marathon Flat or Hilly?

One of the reasons that the Boston Marathon is so challenging is that it isn’t flat like a lot of other major marathons. The start line is at a higher elevation than the finish line, with some rolling hills along the way, including the famous Heartbreak Hill just after mile 20. 

In total, there is 815’ of elevation gain, and 1,275’ of elevation loss along the route. The course map and elevation chart can be viewed here.

What Time Does the Boston Marathon Start?

The Boston Marathon features a staggered start, allowing the elites and wheelchair athletes to go out first, and then the rest of the runners follow in waves based on estimated finishing time. The divisions and start times are listed below:

 Division Start Time

Event Time
Military March 6:00 AM
Men’s Wheelchair 9:02 AM
Women’s Wheelchair 9:05 AM
Handcycles & Duos 9:30 AM
Professional Men 9:37 AM
Professional Women 9:45 AM
Para-Athletics Division 9:50 AM
Wave 1 10:00 AM
Wave 2 10:25 AM
Wave 3 10:50 AM
Wave 4 11:15 AM


What is the Cutoff Time on Race Day? 

The finish line area officially closes at approximately 5:30 pm on race day. As some roads start to open back up, aid and medical stations will be closed in a staggered fashion, starting in Hopkinton and working toward the finish line.  

Mile Markers, Not Kilometers!

If you are coming to the race from anywhere in the world other than the US, you will likely notice rather quickly that the course markers are in miles, not kilometers. However, if you can’t do the conversions, there are kilometer markers every 5 kilometers.

What is Available at the Aid Stations on the Course?

Every aid station will feature Poland Spring Water and Lemon Lime Gatorade, beginning at mile 2. Maurten will also have Energy Gel Stations set up on the course at mile 11.8 (on the Wellesley town line), mile 17 (in Newton), and mile 21.5 (just after Boston College). Both Maurten Gel 100 and Gel 100 CAF 100 will be available.

All aid and medical stations along the race route will also have portable bathroom facilities. Some facilities will be placed elsewhere along the course as well. 

How Big are the Crowds at the Boston Marathon?

Boston Marathon has ample viewing opportunities, all the way from Hopkinton right down to the finish at Boylston Street. With so many great spots to watch from, the race draws an estimated 500,000 spectators. This ensures that no matter what point you’re at in the race, there will be crowds cheering you on. 

Where are the Best Places to Cheer from Along the Route?

There are many great spots to cheer from along the famed Boston Marathon route, which is why it attracts so many spectators yearly. Here is a list of the best vantage points along the route to cheer on family and friends. 

Is the Boston Marathon Televised?

The 127th Boston Marathon will be televised nationally on ESPN on Monday, April 17, 2023. The broadcast will be live from 8:30 AM to 1:00 PM ET. It will also be picked up by other networks as well, depending on where you are trying to watch from. 

For a full list of media broadcasters, click here.

Where and When is the Boston Marathon Running Expo?

The Boston Marathon Running Expo is held at the John B. Hynes Veterans Memorial Convention Center at 900 Boylston Street in Boston. The Expo will take place from Friday, April 15, 2023, to Sunday, April 17, 2023. The Expo hours are:

  • Friday, April 15 - 11:00 AM to 6:00 PM
  • Saturday, April 16 - 9:00 AM to 6:00 PM
  • Sunday, April 17 - 9:00 AM to 6:00 PM

The Expo is free and open to the public. Race packet pickup is also at the Expo. Full information on the Expo can be found here

Can I Defer My Entry to 2024?

Deferment of entry into next year’s Boston Marathon will not be accepted for any reason. Only runners who elect to purchase registration insurance may be eligible for refunds. 

Boston Marathon bibs may not be transferred to another runner under any circumstance. 

Where are the Best Places to Stay for the Boston Marathon?

The best hotels for the Boston Marathon can be found here. If you are looking for a hotel near the finish line, search for one in the Boylston Street area. For hotels near the bus pickup on race morning, hotels in the Boston Common area are most convenient. Hotels in Hopkinton are your best bet if you prefer to stay closer to the starting line.

Where are the Best Places to Eat and Drink After the Boston Marathon?

Whether you are a thirsty athlete who’s just run 26.2 miles or a family member who’s part of a cheering squad, no Boston Marathon experience is complete without a great meal after. Check out this guide for the best restaurants in the area to replenish yourself after the race. 

Where Are the Boston Marathon Results posted?

The Boston Athletic Association has all the previous race results, going back to 1897, available on their website.

What are the best gifts for Boston Marathon Finishers?

Every Boston Marathon runner has to have the bib, medal, and the celebration jacket. However, there are many other gifts from our Boston Marathon Finisher coffee to this great list of other Boston themed items the runner in your life will love from our own Boston Marathon Gift Guide


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