After years of striving to get a “BQ” or Boston Qualifying standard, we can now add “JFKQ” to our lexicon. The JFK 50 Mile race has added qualifying standards for the first time ever for its massively popular race just north of Washington, D.C. Let me break down the top tier of what they are calling “Top-Qualifying Citizen Athletes.”
For males ages 13-39 you must have either run a sub-3:00:00 marathon, a sub-4:00:00 50K, a sub-7:15:00 50 miler or a sub-9:00:00 100k. Tough stuff!
For females ages 13-39 the times are a sub-3:30:00 marathon, a sub-4:30:00 50K, a sub-8:00:00 50-miler or a sub-10:00:00 100K. Nothing to sneeze at either.
Personally I feel they are a fantastic idea. But they are indeed strict. In 2009, a year where records fell and many felt it was a fast course, only 31 total runners out of the 1027 finishers broke 7:15 at JFK in 2009. Sure the 7:15 standard is the fastest standard they have and a matrix of stats would allow me to see how each age group fared with regard to breaking the standard for that age group (they can all be found here) but I think that we can probably agree these are some tough goals to meet. In fact, I think they get tougher as the distance increases.
With marathons, there are undoubtedly different marathons which are faster than others. But the further you go up the ladder in distance the greater the discrepancy in time goes. By that I mean there are 50 milers out there that take significantly longer to complete than other 50 milers, even when the same people are running them. This most assuredly is going to open up these qualifying standards to much debate which is definitely not a bad thing.
One thing that does bother me, however, is the difference between the standards between men and women. Not unlike the Boston Qualifying standards, I think they are a tad too easy for females, almost to the point where it is a little insulting to women. While there are obvious distances in the genders (and some would debate women may be better than men when it comes to ultradistances) it would be nice to see qualifying standards a little closer.
Having said that, as I mentioned, I am a big fan of these standards. I have often written that not everything in this world (especially the running one) MUST be experienced by everyone.