The Boston Marathon is one of the few opportunities for a weekend warrior to participate in the same event as a two-time Olympic gold medalist.
On Monday, world-record holder Eliud Kipchoge will toe the start line of the Boston Marathon, likely leading 30,000 runners from Hopkinton to downtown Boston. While those at the front of the pack will include those hoping to participate in next year's Olympic Games, people from all walks of life will follow behind.
Stephanie Bauer is participating in her fourth World Major. Her goal is to complete all six. She was on the course in Berlin last year while Kipchoge ran the fastest official marathon on record.
"I mean, so many people work their entire lives. They've spent their adult lives to get a qualifying time. And there's some people here that do this day in and day out ... But whether people are charity running or qualified for Boston, this is a huge milestone," Bauer said.
There are two main ways to get to Boston: Run fast or raise a lot of money.
To qualify for the marathon, you must be able to run a qualifying marathon in a fast enough time. The time needed to qualify for the Boston Marathon depends on your age and gender.
Runners had from Sept. 1, 2021 through Sept. 16, 2022, to run a qualifying time at a marathon.
This is also the first time the Boston Marathon allowed athletes to enter a non-binary division. The qualifying times for non-binary athletes match those of women entrants.
Some courses are better than others for qualification, but at most races, about 10-20% of participants qualify for Boston.
For many other people, the only practical option is to fundraise. The marathon sets aside a number of spots for those who are able to raise at least $5,000 for various charities. Because the spots are coveted, some charities require at least $10,000 in fundraising to earn a spot.
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At last year's Boston Marathon, 2,566 runners helped raise $35.6 million for nonprofit organizations.
Bauer said it was essentially a part-time job to fundraise enough to get to Boston. She raised $10,000 for the Play Brigade, a Boston charity Bauer says "promotes inclusion for people with disabilities so they can enjoy sports and play and recreation."
"I wanted to make sure the charity I picked was something that I believed in and connected with," Bauer said. "So that made it easier. I volunteered for a school with kids with severe disabilities back when I was in high school, in middle school. And so I just connected with the cause a lot more in that way."