Tri-Cities' first marathon earns Boston-qualifying status

Tony Casey • Apr 21, 2014 at 9:54 PM

As many people watched the Boston Marathon on Monday morning, they might want to add completion of the United States’ most-storied race to their bucket lists.

The only issue between runners wanting to run the race and actually doing so is one word: qualification. Unlike other races across the country, because of the marathon’s size and popularity — especially after so much support and momentum was gained in the wake of last year’s terrorist attack — running 26.2 miles through Boston’s streets requires a runner to first have qualified.

Now, the May 10 Mentoring Marathon, the first marathon to hit the Tri-Cities, has that distinction of being a course worthy of earning runners an entry into the race, granted they cross the line quick enough.

Matthew Studholme, Tennessee’s state certifier for marathon courses, says the Mentoring Marathon “100 percent” passed the necessary certification standards to produce times acceptable for the Boston Marathon, which fall in line with the standards set by the national governing body of track and field, USA Track & Field, or USATF. Qualification both depends on the length of the course and the elevation change of the course and also the route used, with fewer courses earning certification if they have a point-to-point layout rather than a loop or multiple-loop course.

“That’s what all runners are looking for,” Studholme said. “Especially the fast ones.”

The course will start runners at Winged Deer Park and head to Bristol Motor Speedway, where participants will do a lap on the famed track before heading back to a finish near the starting line.

Race director and organizer Karen Hubbs, of The Goose Chase, says marathoners will treat races as vacations or destination events. This can be an issue for those looking to qualify for Boston, especially without a local qualifying option. With the announcement that Mentoring Marathon will be a “BQ,” as they’re known, Hubbs said this could be very exciting for many local road racers.

“A hundred or more runners could now book their tickets to Boston in a few weeks,” Hubbs said about the race.

The advantage of a having a local race rather than one where one would have to travel, Hubbs said, is at the core of distance running. Runners typically thrive in marathon training on routine, and a local marathon option, especially a BQ race, gives runners a chance to stick with their own routine, be it sleeping in their same bed to have the same meals prepared the same way to, maybe most importantly, familiarity with the course.

It also helps from the marketing side of things, especially for a first-year race. Having the Boston-qualification mark next to the title gives runners a sense of seriousness in the organization of the event.

Jon Reynolds, president of the State of Franklin Track Club in Johnson City, said the certification is especially important given the influx of runners interested in running Boston after last year’s tragic events.

“I think it’s very important,” Reynolds said. “It makes (the Mentoring Marathon) a more official race.”

For qualifying times needed to run Boston for certain age groups, check the race’s official website at www.baa.org. For registration options into the Mentoring Marathon, go to active.com or find the event’s official Facebook page.

Follow Tony Casey on Twitter @TonyCaseyJCP. Like him on Facebook at www.facebook.com/tonycaseyjournalist.

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