The Boston Athletic Association has agreed to award prize money to five additional women who placed in the top 15 at this year’s Boston Marathon after an outcry about the different rules for male and female racers.
Jessica Chichester placed fifth at this year’s race on the rainy, cold Monday of April 16. That accomplishment comes with a $15,000 prize, but initially, Chichester wasn’t going to see any of that money.
There are different rules for male and female runners at the Boston Marathon, Buzzfeed pointed out back in April. Only women who start in the Elite Women’s Start (EWS) category, a group who start the race ahead of other runners and for which you have to qualify with a specific time, are eligable for prize money.
This year’s EWS qualifying time was 2:47:50, putting 46 women in that category, Buzzfeed reported.
There is no such distinction for men, though, meaning any man who runs the Boston Marathon and finishes in the top 15 is eligible for prize money. In contrast to those 46 women in the EWS group, there were 16,587 men potentially eligible for those cash prizes.
And since Chichester — and a few other women who placed in the top 15 this year — missed that EWS qualifying time by seconds, they were not included in the elite category and not eligible for prize money, despite their “breakthrough” races.
But now, the Boston Athletic Association is changing its tune — for this year’s winners, at least.
“Given the nature of this year’s race, we want to recognize and celebrate some of the performances that made this year’s race special. The B.A.A. will ensure that these five additional women (all of whom started in Wave One) receive a financial award for their net-time performance this year,” the association said in a statement. “These awards will be made in addition to the existing prize money that will be paid to EWS competitors, and equal with the amounts paid to corresponding EWS placements.”
Historically, the women who finish with the top 15 overall times “almost always” race with the EWS, the organization said. The BAA is still committed to having a separate women's race “to continue to highlight these athletes and [it remains] willing to address individual athlete’s requests for inclusion in that group.”