Qualifying for the New York Marathon

Runners in the NYC Marathon

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The New York City Marathon, which takes place on the first Sunday of November, is one of the biggest and most popular marathons in the world. Gaining entry to it isn’t easy. Qualifying by time is one way into the race, although the time standards are very tough—even more challenging than qualifying for the Boston Marathon.

By meeting the qualifying time, especially at races hosted by the New York Road Runners, you get a guaranteed entry, but this is not the only way to gain entry. The qualification time and rules may be adjusted each year. The times listed below can give you a general indication, but you should check for any changes for the current year.

For instance, the NYC Marathon was canceled in 2020 due to COVID-19 (a virtual event was held in its place). Because of this, runners will not have the option to earn guaranteed entry to the 2021 race, due to both high demand and limitation of the number of runners allowed to safely participate.

NYC Marathon Qualifying Times

Though NYC Marathon qualifying times for 2021 are for reference only, time qualifying eligibility may return for future marathon events. Runners should visit the New York Road Runner's website to stay up to date with the latest information.

If you are training to qualify for the NYC Marathon by time, you must have run a half or full marathon at least as fast as the following times in the previous calendar year (January 1 to December 31). The total number of time-qualifier spots is limited, and the time is the net (chip) time, not the gun time.

Men

Age*

Marathon

Half-marathon

18-34

2:53

1:21

35-39

2:55

1:23

40-44

2:58

1:25

45-49

3:05

1:28

50-54

3:14

1:32

55-59

3:23

1:36

60-64

3:34

1:41

65-69

3:45

1:46

70-74

4:10

1:57

75-79

4:30

2:07

80+

4:55

2:15

Women

Age*

Marathon

Half-marathon

18-34

3:13

1:32

35-39

3:15

1:34

40-44

3:26

1:37

45-49

3:38

1:42

50-54

3:51

1:49

55-59

4:10

1:54

60-64

4:27

2:02

65-69

4:50

2:12

70-74

5:30

2:27

75-79

6:00

2:40

80+

6:35

2:50

*Age on race day: November 7, 2021

Races for Qualifying Times

If you finish specific races hosted by the New York Road Runners Club (NYRR) in the previous year below the qualifying time, you garner a guaranteed entry. For example, a qualifying time from the previous year's TCS New York City Marathon or the ​SHAPE Women's Half-Marathon could qualify.

If you had a qualifying finishing time at a non-NYRR race, you can apply with that time, but slots are limited and are first-come, first-served. In this case, it is better to qualify for a race early in the preceding year. Times are verified before you get a slot, so that introduces a delay of two weeks. If you miss out on those limited slots, your entry will be placed in a drawing for slots instead.

New York Road Runners Club 9+1 Program

In the past, those who entered the New York Road Runner's 9+1 program could earn guaranteed entry to the race by fulfilling certain requirements. In order to qualify, you would need to be an NYRR member and complete nine NYRR-scored, qualifying races, and volunteer for one event during the prior calendar year.

However, since the 9+1 program was affected by the 2020 cancelation, some changes have been made for 2021 to ensure the health and safety of runners during the pandemic. NYRR members who completed the virtual 9+1 program in 2020 will be able to participate in the selection process in 2021 to compete in either 2021, 2022, or 2023. If you qualify for earned entry through the program you will be contacted in 2021. But due to limited field sizes for the 2021 race, NYRR is unable to guarantee that your first choice will be granted.

According to NYRR, members earned their 9+1 race credits in 2020 by:

  • Completing scored, qualifying races in 2020 (including virtual 9+1 qualifying races). 
  • Being registered for qualifying races that were canceled, and choosing the NYC Marathon 9+1 qualifier credit as their race cancellation resolution.

Additionally, due to limited volunteer opportunities, the +1 volunteer portion of the 9+1 program was waived in 2020. To learn more about the 9+1 program for the 2021 NYC Marathon, check the NYRR's website for the most up to date information.

Other Ways to Enter the NYC Marathon

The good news is that qualifying by time isn’t the only way into the New York City Marathon. The New York Road Runners, the marathon’s organizer, holds its drawing every year. The application for the NYC Marathon opens in January and you can enter the race through any of the following options depending on your circumstances.

  • Drawing: The drawing procedure is a non-guaranteed entry, but according to the NYC Marathon, this helps "preserve the geographic diversity of the race." The competition is very tough for spots in the drawing, but there are still other ways to get into the race.
  • Charity partnerships: Runners can also gain entry through one of the race’s participating charities. Those spots are offered in exchange for a commitment to fundraising (amounts vary) for that particular charity. You can get a list of participating charities to see if there’s one for which you'd like to raise funds.
  • International travel partners: There is also an International Travel Partners program in which travelers book flights and/or hotel stays and are guaranteed entry to the race.
  • 15+ Legacy program: This option is most feasible for those who live in the New York tri-state area, as all of the NYRR’s races take place in the five boroughs of New York City. The 15+ Legacy Program guarantees entry for life for those who have completed 15 New York City Marathons.
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  1. New York Road Runners. Time Qualifiers.