B.A.A. Executive Director Guy Morse released a statement about the recent registration process in which he not-so-subtly hints that qualifying times will be getting tighter. Bad news for those of us who have had a specific time on our radar. Are there other ways to make changes though? Many people bemoan the inclusion of charity runners but as far as I can tell they are only a small portion of the field, maybe 3000 or so. Some of those numbers could be taken back for qualifiers but I don't see that happening. The other complaint I hear a lot is that the qualifying times for men and women are radically different and that it is much easier for women to qualify. This makes sense since there is a 30 minute difference between qualifying times in the age groups, but is it really much easier for women to qualify?
Let's focus on the 35-39 age group. There is a difference of 28:25 in the average times for male and female as opposed to the BQ spread of a half hour. That one minute 35 seconds represents a 5.57% difference in allowed and actual times which seems to be a sizable discrepancy. But if we then look solely at the differences between average times and BQ times we see that the difference shrinks to only 2.97%; showing that the assigned BQ times are very close to being the same percentage of the avg times for both men and women. Statistically there is very little difference between the male and female numbers and so I could probably conclude that it actually isn't easier for women to qualify.
These numbers don't necessarily tell the whole story though. For instance, the avg times include the nearly 42,000 people who finished over 6 hours. Further breakdown would be needed in order to determine what age group these runners fall in to. Obviously if a large portion of them fall into one age range this would skew the avg time much more than an age group with very few 6+ hour finishers.