Runners Pay Anything for a Boston Bib

Unprecedented number of applicants ups charity fundraising minimums

Dec 4, 2013
Outside Magazine

A memorial for the 2013 Boston Bombing victims.    ShadowstarCyran / Flickr

For runners who don't fall into the 10 percent of marathoners able to meet the qualifying standard for the Boston Marathon, representing a charity is the only way to get a bib. This year, in response to the April bombing, charities associated with the the race are receiving unprecedented numbers of applicants and upping the fundraising minimum requirements.

"After what we here in Boston—and really everyone around the world—experienced on April 15, 2013, there has been a strong desire to respond," Executive Director Tom Grilk of the Boston Athletic Association said in a Boston Marathon Registration News report, "to show strength, to show resilience, to show that people won't give in."

The demand for bib slots for the 2014 marathon began almost immediately after the bombing and remains on the rise. Interest in joining Team Red Cross started the day of the attack and applications for 35 slots reached 190—up 115 from last year. The Boston Athletic Association has already increased the field size of the 2014 race by 9,000 slots to 36,000 to accommodate the spike—3,000 of which will run for charity.

The 138 official charities associated with the race are asking runners to raise more than the $4,000 and $5,000 fund-raising minimums set by the Boston Athletic Association and sponsor John Hancock , respectively, the Boston Globe reports. The Massachusetts Eye and Ear Infirmary won't blink at an applicant who can't commit to raising $7,500 or more. Special Olympics Massachusetts is asking runners to raise $10,000 with a whopping $7,500 commitment fee up front—A $2,500 increase from last year's race.

Would-be runners are sending out applications to multiple charities. To weed out the competition, many are pledging to raise more than the required minimum. The creativity of the applicants shows no bounds, Susan Hurley, the founder of CharityTeams, a group that helps charities select and train runners, told the Globe.

“Someone took a screen shot of the scene on TV when the bombs went off and circled a picture of herself right there and wrote ‘Me,’ Hurley says. "Someone sent in a picture of a black collie mix with a sign in its mouth: ‘Mom wants to run.’ ”