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Boston closes out, Lockport opens a winter window

Just because the weather is getting colder doesn't mean you thought distance running took the season off, did you?

We start our tour of with the news earlier this month from the Boston Athletic Association that the April 2010 Boston Marathon is officially closed. It is only the second time in the event's history that registration has closed early. That means even if you ran a qualifying time at an upcoming marathon, you could not register for the 2010 race. You would have to wait until 2011.

This brings up all sorts of questions. Should the Boston Marathon let more people into the race? Should they make the qualifying standards tougher and lower the qualifying times? Has reaching Boston become too easy? Are there too many charity runners?

Guy Morse, the executive director of the Boston Athletic Association, discussed these topics in a Q&A with Running Times Magazine.

His answers in short: While they are looking at different options, nothing is really in motion to change qualifying times or participation numbers. "We have looked at either trying to allow more runners to enter, which means greater capacity, although we're more interested in quality runners versus quantity," Morse said in the article. "That remains important to us -- the quality of the run, not just the number of people running."

So, should the standard to enter Boston be tougher? Or is it fine as it is, allowing people to have an attainable goal to run one of the most hallowed events in American sport?

As far as charity runners, Morse said at Boston about 80 percent of the runners are ones who qualified while only 20 percent are running with a special invitation, exemption or to raise money for a charity. That component remains important for major city marathons, who want to give back to the communities which support them.

A different kind of challenge has emerged along the Erie Canal Towpath in Lockport as ultrarunner and triathlete Sam Pasceri is kicking off the Beast of Burden Winter 100 Miler and 24 Hour Ultramarathon. Scheduled for Feb. 27, runners can choose to either run 100 miles or see how far they can run in 24 hours. The event is limited to 30 athletes and because of the winter conditions is requiring participants to have ultra running experience. The event is billed as the only official winter 100-miler in the United States.

Not ready to run in the dark, cold and snow? The event is also looking for volunteers.

--- Amy Moritz
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