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How Do You Qualify For NYC Marathon How Do You Qualify For NYC Marathon


How Do You Qualify For NYC Marathon

Discover how to qualify for the NYC Marathon and become a featured runner in this iconic event. Take the first step towards achieving your marathon dreams.


The New York City Marathon is one of the most prestigious and iconic marathons in the world. Every year, thousands of runners from around the globe strive to qualify for this renowned event. Qualifying for the NYC Marathon is no easy feat, as the race imposes strict standards to ensure that participants are experienced and prepared for the challenging course.

The NYC Marathon, organized by the New York Road Runners, attracts both elite runners and everyday athletes looking to test their limits. The race takes participants through the diverse neighborhoods of all five boroughs, showcasing the city’s vibrant energy and spirit. With over 50,000 runners crossing the finish line, qualifying for this marathon is a dream come true for many.

Qualifying standards for the NYC Marathon are based on a combination of age and gender, with specific time requirements that must be met in an officially recognized marathon. The standards ensure that only capable and dedicated runners can participate in the race, making it a true test of endurance and determination.

In this article, we will delve into the various qualifying standards, age groups, special eligibility criteria, and the different qualifying races and times that runners must meet to secure a spot in the NYC Marathon. We will also explore the options of automatic qualification, charity entries, lottery entries, and the international qualification standards.

So, whether you are an aspiring marathoner looking to tackle the legendary NYC course or simply curious about the qualifying process, let’s dive in and explore what it takes to qualify for the prestigious New York City Marathon.


Qualifying Standards

Qualifying for the New York City Marathon requires meeting specific time standards based on a combination of age and gender. These standards are designed to ensure that participants have the necessary experience and training to complete the challenging course.

The qualifying standards for the NYC Marathon are set by the New York Road Runners and are subject to change each year. To qualify, runners must complete a full marathon (26.2 miles) within a specified time frame. The qualifying times are generally more competitive for younger age groups and become more lenient as age increases.

For example, as of the writing of this article, male runners between the ages of 18 and 34 must complete a marathon in under 2 hours and 53 minutes, while female runners in the same age group must complete it in under 3 hours and 13 minutes. The qualifying time increases gradually for each age group, with a maximum qualifying time of 4 hours and 52 minutes for males aged 80 and over, and 5 hours and 32 minutes for females in the same age category.

It is important to note that meeting the qualifying standards does not guarantee entry into the NYC Marathon. The race has a limited number of spots available, and if the number of qualified applicants exceeds the race capacity, a selection process is implemented, giving priority to faster qualifying times.

Additionally, it’s important to maintain a consistent pace throughout the entire race, as finishing below the qualifying time at one point and falling behind at another may result in disqualification, even if the average time is within the qualifying standards.

Qualifying for the NYC Marathon is a significant achievement and a testament to a runner’s dedication and ability. It requires training, perseverance, and the determination to push through physical and mental barriers. The race organizers believe that by maintaining strict qualifying standards, the event can remain as competitive and prestigious as it has been throughout its long history.


Age Groups and Special Eligibility

In addition to the general qualifying standards, the New York City Marathon has specific age group requirements to ensure fair competition among participants. Runners are grouped into age categories to compare their performances against others in their same age range.

The age groups for the NYC Marathon are typically divided into five-year increments, starting from 18-34 and extending to 80 and over. Each age group has its own qualifying time, with faster times expected from younger age categories.

Aside from age groups, the NYC Marathon also grants special eligibility to certain groups of individuals. This includes wheelchair division athletes, handcycle participants, and athletes with disabilities who require accommodations or assistance to compete in the race.

Wheelchair division athletes are required to meet separate qualifying times specifically set for their division. This ensures that wheelchair participants are experienced and capable of navigating the course safely and efficiently. Handcycle participants, who use specialized bikes designed for individuals with limited or no use of their lower limbs, are also required to meet qualifying standards tailored to their division.

The NYC Marathon is committed to providing an inclusive and accessible experience for athletes with disabilities. Participants with disabilities who require accommodations or assistance may apply for entry into the race through the Achilles International program or through the Official Charity Partner program. These programs offer opportunities for individuals with disabilities to participate and showcase their incredible determination and strength.

In certain cases, the NYC Marathon may also grant special eligibility to individuals who have a compelling and exceptional story. These cases are evaluated on a case-by-case basis, and the decision ultimately rests with the race organizers.

By dividing participants into age groups and providing special eligibility to individuals with disabilities, the NYC Marathon promotes fair competition and inclusivity, ensuring that all runners with the passion and drive to participate have the opportunity to do so.


Qualifying Races and Times

Qualifying for the New York City Marathon requires runners to complete a full marathon within a specific time frame. However, not all marathons are accepted as qualifying races for the NYC Marathon. Only officially recognized marathons that meet specific criteria are eligible for qualification purposes.

When selecting a qualifying race, it is important to choose a marathon that is certified by an official governing body, such as the Association of International Marathons and Distance Races (AIMS) or USA Track & Field (USATF). These certifications ensure that the race is accurately measured and meets certain standards for timing and course conditions.

The qualifying times must also be achieved in a specified time period that varies each year, typically between January 1st and December 31st. Runners must ensure that they complete their qualifying marathon within this timeframe to be eligible for the upcoming New York City Marathon.

The New York Road Runners, the organizers of the NYC Marathon, provide a list of approved and widely recognized qualifying races on their official website. This list includes marathons from all around the world, giving runners the flexibility to choose a race that suits their preferences and availability.

The qualifying times for these races are dependent on age and gender, as outlined in the previous section. It’s crucial to review the qualifying standards and compare them to the specific requirements set by the chosen qualifying race. This will ensure that there is sufficient overlap between the two, allowing runners to achieve their desired qualifying time.

It is advisable to select a qualifying race that provides favorable conditions, such as a flat course or a cooler climate, to increase the chances of achieving the desired time. Additionally, choosing a well-organized race with excellent support and aid stations can contribute to achieving peak performance during the marathon.

It’s important to note that races with a net downhill course or a strong tailwind may not be accepted as qualifying races, as these conditions can potentially provide an unfair advantage. However, slight downhill portions or gentle tailwinds within a race are typically allowed.

By carefully selecting a qualified marathon and meeting the designated qualifying time within the determined time period, runners can ensure eligibility for the much-coveted New York City Marathon.


Automatic Qualification Options

In addition to meeting the standard qualifying times, there are certain automatic qualification options available for entry into the New York City Marathon. These options provide an alternative path for runners who may not meet the standard qualifying standards but still want to participate in the prestigious race.

One of the automatic qualification options is the “9+1” program offered by the New York Road Runners (NYRR). This program allows runners to guarantee their entry into the following year’s NYC Marathon by completing nine qualifying races and volunteering at one NYRR event in a calendar year. The nine races must include one marathon-distance race and one race of 18 miles or longer.

Another automatic qualification option is the “9+1” program for New York City residents. This program functions similarly to the general “9+1” program, but is exclusively available to residents of the five boroughs of New York City. By completing nine qualifying races and volunteering at one NYRR event, local runners can secure their spot in the upcoming NYC Marathon.

The NYRR also offers automatic qualification spots for runners who have previously completed 15 or more New York City Marathons. These loyal runners, known as “Legacy Runners,” are recognized for their commitment and dedication to the event. They are granted guaranteed entry each year, regardless of their qualifying status.

Additionally, individuals who have completed the Abbott World Marathon Majors (a series of six renowned marathons including the NYC Marathon) are eligible for automatic qualification. This includes runners who have successfully finished the Tokyo, Boston, London, Berlin, Chicago, and New York City marathons.

These automatic qualification options provide alternative paths for runners to secure a spot in the New York City Marathon. They recognize different achievements and contributions to the running community, ensuring a diverse and inclusive participant pool.

It’s important to note that while some runners may consider these options as an alternative to meeting the standard qualifying times, others still strive to achieve the traditional qualifying standards. The sense of accomplishment that comes with meeting the challenging time requirements remains a significant goal for many dedicated runners.


Charity and Lottery Entries

For runners who may not meet the standard qualifying times or qualify through automatic options, there are other avenues to secure a coveted spot in the New York City Marathon. These include charity entries and the marathon’s lottery system.

One popular way to gain entry to the NYC Marathon is through a charity team. Many recognized charities have official partnerships with the marathon and offer guaranteed entries to runners who commit to fundraising a certain amount of money for their cause. This option allows runners to combine their passion for running with their desire to make a positive impact in their community or support a cause close to their heart.

Each charity sets its own fundraising goals, ranging from a few thousand dollars to significant amounts depending on the demand for entries. Runners who secure a charity entry are typically required to meet the fundraising goal and may receive additional benefits, such as training support and personalized race-day perks.

Another way to secure entry into the NYC Marathon is through the lottery system. Each year, a limited number of spots in the race are set aside for participants selected through a random lottery drawing. The lottery is open to both local and international runners, providing an opportunity for anyone to have a chance at participating in this iconic event.

The lottery system allows runners to submit their application during a specific registration period, typically several months before the race. Following the application period, a random drawing takes place to select the lucky individuals who will receive entry into the marathon. However, it’s important to note that the lottery is highly competitive, with a much larger number of applicants than available spots.

The NYC Marathon also offers a “3 Strikes and You’re In” program, providing runners who have been unsuccessful in the lottery for three consecutive years with a guaranteed entry for the following year. This program recognizes the dedication and perseverance of those who have consistently tried to gain entry into the race.

Both the charity entry and lottery system provide alternative avenues for runners to participate in the New York City Marathon. These options not only allow aspiring marathoners to fulfill their dream of running the prestigious race but also contribute to charitable causes or benefit from the element of chance through the lottery selection process.


International Qualification Standards

The New York City Marathon attracts runners from around the world, and international participants have their own set of qualification standards to meet. Similar to the general qualifying standards, international runners must achieve specific time requirements in a recognized marathon.

The international qualification standards for the NYC Marathon are generally in line with the qualifying times for domestic runners. However, there may be slight variations to account for differences in race courses, conditions, and other factors that could impact performance.

To ensure fairness and consistency, international runners must complete a full marathon within the designated time that aligns with their age and gender. These times are established to ensure that international participants possess the necessary experience and physical fitness to handle the challenging NYC Marathon course.

It’s crucial for international runners to select a marathon that meets the New York Road Runners’ criteria for qualification purposes. This includes certified races with accurate measurements, proper timing procedures, and adherence to relevant regulations.

International runners must also consider the time frame within which their qualifying race must be completed. Similar to domestic runners, international participants typically have a specific period, usually between January 1st and December 31st, to achieve their qualifying time for the upcoming NYC Marathon.

Since the NYC Marathon is a highly sought-after race, the demand for international entries is substantial. To ensure fairness and accommodate a wide range of international runners, a limited number of spots are allocated specifically for international entrants.

It’s important for international runners to plan ahead and carefully review the qualification requirements to have the best chance of securing their spot in the New York City Marathon. This includes researching qualifying races that are recognized by the New York Road Runners and provide the opportunity to achieve the necessary time within the designated time frame.

By meeting the international qualification standards, runners from around the world can join the diverse and vibrant community of participants in the New York City Marathon, showcasing their dedication and love for the sport on a global stage.



Qualifying for the New York City Marathon is a significant achievement that requires dedication, training, and perseverance. The rigorous qualifying standards based on age, gender, and time ensure that participants are prepared to tackle the demanding course and contribute to the competitive nature of the race.

From meeting the qualifying times in recognized marathons to exploring automatic qualification options, runners have various pathways to secure a spot in the NYC Marathon. Whether it’s through achieving the standard qualifying times, participating in the “9+1” program, or gaining entry through charity or lottery options, each route offers a unique opportunity for participation.

The age group divisions and special eligibility criteria, such as wheelchair and handcycle participants, ensure fair competition and inclusivity for all individuals. The NYC Marathon also extends its support to athletes with disabilities, providing accommodations and entry opportunities through programs like Achilles International and the Official Charity Partner program.

For international runners, specific qualification standards and considerations allow participants from around the world to be a part of this globally renowned marathon. It’s essential for international entrants to meet the designated times and choose eligible qualifying races to ensure their eligibility for participation.

Ultimately, securing a spot in the New York City Marathon is a monumental achievement. It represents the culmination of dedicated training, hard work, and the pursuit of personal goals. By qualifying for and participating in this iconic race, runners become part of a remarkable community that shares a passion for running and a drive to push their limits.

Whether it’s achieving a personal best time, supporting a charitable cause, or simply being a part of the incredible atmosphere and energy that permeates the streets of New York City, qualifying for the NYC Marathon is a goal that holds significance and meaning for countless runners worldwide.

So, lace up your running shoes, set your goals high, and embark on the journey to qualify for the New York City Marathon. The road may be challenging, but the rewards are immeasurable. Good luck on your marathon journey!