Recent Boston Marathon scheduling changes prevented 2013 Advocate Dreyer Fox Valley Marathon participants from qualifying for this month’s Boston race.
Enter an enterprising idea from Fox Valley co-organizers Craig Bixler and Dave Sheble of St. Charles.
September’s Last Chance BQ.2 Marathon is intent on sending athletes to the northeast in 2015, one week before the fifth annual Fox Valley race offers one of the first qualifiers for Boston 2016.
“It forms a perfect bookend to Fox Valley,” Sheble said. “It kicks off the races week and it gives us a chance to service those runners who might not come here because of the window.”
The inaugural BQ.2 Marathon, set for Sept. 13, will be limited to a field of 330 runners and completed in eight laps along a flat circuit of the Fox River Trail that hosts the Fox Valley Marathon. The Fox Valley Marathon is Sept. 21.
Registration for Boston 2015 is expected to open between those dates.
Escalating demand for the iconic race, which keeps a more streamlined field than Chicago and New York City given its more residential route, has prompted officials to be almost secretive with the information.
“It’s tough for Boston to add bodies, and so you’ve got to increase demand to get there, and that puts a lot of pressure on your qualifying time,” Sheble said.
“If you think about this whole idea of running a fast time, you may have the idea of, ‘My time isn’t fast enough,so I better try to run a faster one.’ “
BQ.2, which starts in Geneva, is geared toward offering athletes the opportunity to head to Boston as quickly as possible. Fox Valley remains a Boston qualifier, but runners meeting qualifying times now must wait 18 months to compete.
“BQ.2 will be a little easier in some ways, a little more difficult in others, but I think the spectating side of it and the national reputation it’ll have is really going to play out well,” Sheble said.
“We’re going to find out. We’ve done our homework as best we can, but we think we have something here that’s really niche-y that’s going to help runners.”