The qualifying standards for the men’s US Olympic Marathon Trials have been changed and no longer differentiate between an “A” qualifying standard or a “B” qualifying standard. Had the new rules been in place for the 2008 trials, the field of 179 qualifiers would have been reduced to 69 qualifiers.
The former standards called for a 2:20 “A” standard or a 2:22 “B” standard in the marathon on any USATF certified course. You could also obtain a “B” qualifying race by running better than 28:45 10k or a 13:40 5k.
The new standards remove the ability to qualify with a 5k at all, and reduce the 10k qualifying time to 28:30 or better. However, a half marathon of 1:05:00 or better can now be used as a qualifier. To qualify by running a marathon, you will have to run a 2:19:00 or better. There will no longer be any “A” or “B” qualifiers; anyone that qualifies for the trials will have their expenses paid in order to race.
The biggest change, however, is not the change in time standards. Those have moved up and down over the years as necessary to provide a quality field for the trials. The largest change has to do with which race courses can be used to qualify for the trials.
Race courses can no longer have a net elevation loss of more than 1 meter per kilometer (or 42.195 meters over the course of a marathon) and the finish line can not be located farther than 30% of the race distance from the starting line. That means that popular races such as the Austin Freescale Marathon can no longer be used for entry into the Trials.
Exceptions will probably be made for the New York City and Boston Marathons, which do not meet the new standards. I have to assume that any other race that is included in the world marathon majors over the next 3 years will also be a valid qualifying race.
It looks as though I will need to cut almost a half hour off of my race time in order to qualify for the London Trials. Qualifying times need to be run in 2010 or 2011 for a runner to be allowed into the Trials.
New standards have not yet been decided on for the women’s Trials, which very well may include the “A” and “B” standards.