When checking my bib number I happened to notice that my start is at 10:02 AM, two minutes after the start of the men's elite race. This is sort of a shocking development to me and isn't getting the coverage it should be getting. While this will have little impact on me, it could have a huge impact on some sub-elites. This means that only people accepted into the elite field (which is, by my understanding, the hardest elite field in the country to gain entrance to) are eligible for prizes. There are a number of instances over the last 19 years of men and women finishing in the money out of Corral 1, it's not just a 2018 phenomenon. It will probably have a bigger impact on masters racers who are far more likely to finish in the money out of Corral 1. So this decision has the following impacts:
-Restricts prize money to elites only (including masters prize money)
-Means a 2:20 marathoner, who is unlikely to be in the elite field, probably has no one to run with until they catch stragglers who fall off the elite pack
-Means masters racers who want a shot at prize money and get accepted into the masters elite, have no one to run with until they get caught by guys who started 2 minutes behind them
Here is the start timeline: https://www.baa.org/races/boston-marathon/enter/participant-basics
Last night I spoke about this with a sub-elite who has earned money out of Corral 1 and we discussed why this is happening and what better alternatives exist. We both think this is happening because of some accusations of sexism following last year. When Jessica Chichester finished 6th out of Wave 1, some said it was sexist that she wasn't eligible for prize money but that men who ran out of Wave 1 were. The BAA ended up paying her and two other women who ran out of Wave 1, as well as the three Corral 1 men who finished top 15. Maybe this is a response to that, as they clearly note that you have to be in the elite start to get prize money, so this way men and women are treated equally.
I understand the reasoning:
1) Separate women's start is important for highlighting their race (although slightly less important on a non record eligible course)
2) Treat the women and men equally through equal prize money, equal field sizes eligible for prize money, and an equal race opportunity
3) Charter buses and staging in the church can only accommodate so many elites
An alternative though, is instead of removing opportunities for sub-elite and masters men, add a sub-elite women's field that starts immediately behind the elite women at 9:32. Looking at entries, there are 8 women in Corral 1 and an additional 130 in the first 4 corrals (sub 2:57:37 according to current bib number thread). The BAA could offer these 138 women, a choice "race with the men and have an opportunity to run fast but forgo any prize money" OR "still take a school bus to Hopkinton, wait in the AV, but have the chance to start in a separated corral, 10 feet behind elite women and have a shot at prize money." This is giving them the oppportunity men in Corral 1 have had for years. Everyone must choose one or the other. Most women between 2:45 and 2:57 would probably choose to race with the men and chase an OTQ, and they would know they waived their right to prize money.