The Boston Marathon has added new guidelines for 2023 that will allow runners to register as “non-binary athletes.”
The Boston Athletic Association (BAA) shared the announcement on Monday as registration opened for next year’s race.
“The Boston Athletic Association is currently working on expanding opportunities for non-binary athletes at our events, including the upcoming 2023 Boston Marathon. While we do not currently have qualifying standards for nonbinary athletes, we are working on ways nonbinary participants are accepted into the event,” the BAA announced on its registration page.
“Non-binary athletes who have completed a marathon as a non-binary participant during the current qualifying window (September 1, 2021 through September 16, 2022) may submit an entry application into the 2023 Boston Marathon between September 12-16, 2022,” it added. “Entry into the event will be determined by an athlete’s submitted time and based on the Boston Marathon’s overall field size limit. The Boston Marathon registration application will feature the option to select non-binary in regards to gender.”
The youngest age group for the race, 18 to 34-year-olds, requires that non-binary runners must have achieved a marathon time of three hours and 30 minutes or faster from September 2021 until now. The time increases slightly for each age group, in each case matching the qualifying times for women in the marathon.
The option could give biological males who identify as non-binary an advantage in qualifying for the event. Men’s qualifying times are lower for the Boston Marathon, with 18- to 34-year-old men requiring a qualifying mark of three hours, 0 minutes, and 0 seconds, a full half-hour faster than the non-binary qualifying mark.
The change adds to the already growing controversy over gender identity in sports. Several states have passed laws in the past year to ban biological males from competing in girls and women’s sports.
However, the category of non-binary for a marathon competition marks another attempt to redefine gender in sports. While there is no advantage in the Boston Marathon for biological females who identify as male or non-binary, biological males could greatly benefit in qualifying for the race under the new category.
The Philadelphia Distance Run was reportedly the first large American race to offer a non-binary division, according to a report by Fox News.
Jake Fedorowski, a board member for the LGBTQ+ running group the Seattle Frontrunners, reportedly pushed the Boston Marathon to create qualifying times for non-binary runners.
“I’m constantly advocating for races to treat the nonbinary division as no more and no less than the other divisions,” Fedorowksi said.
Nikki Hiltz, who identifies as a non-binary runner, praised the move by the BAA to add the non-binary option.
“There’s still so much work to be done but I’m thrilled that nonbinary runners are being acknowledged by the Boston Marathon and @BAA,” Hiltz tweeted.
— Nikki Hiltz (@Nikki_Hiltz) September 13, 2022