We Start Running the Boston Marathon in 2017-04-17 11:15:00 GMT-04:00!






Want company running but don't necessarily wanna run a marathon? Join our listserv to meet other members of the Harvard community who enjoy group running! Lots of students and staff use our listserv to announce informal runs that span a wide range of distances and paces. Sometimes these runs are prearranged, and other times they occur on short notice. So whether you're a 12-minute miler or a 6-minute miler, you're welcome to join our listserv. At the very least, it's a great way to explore new running routes with others!


If you'd like to participate officially as a Harvard College Marathon Challenge (HCMC) runner/fundraiser — which means you'll receive a numbered Boston Marathon bib — then please read the rest of this page and complete the online interest form at the bottom. Do keep in mind that actively participating in runs posted to our listserv and actively posting to our listserv will increase your chances of getting a slot!

As a Harvard College Marathon Challenge (HCMC) participant, you'll be one of the few lucky folks at Harvard to receive a coveted official invitational charity entry for the 122nd Boston Marathon, which will take place on Monday, April 16, 2018 (Patriots' Day, which is also a school day at Harvard). Between now and then, you'll have many opportunities to meet and train with other HCMC participants, in the process exploring vast tracts of heretofore unvisited areas around Cambridge, Boston, and other local communities. In exchange for the satisfaction, camaraderie, increased wellness, and sheer pleasure you'll derive from this once-in-a-lifetime experience, you'll also have the privilege of raising a few bucks for a worthy cause. Since its inception in 2005-06, HCMC runners have raised over $660,000! In short, if you elect to participate in HCMC, you'll:

  • improve your physical conditioning
  • regularly leave the creature comforts of campus to venture forth into parts unknown
  • bask in the supreme post-achievement glory that'll envelop you when you cross the Finish Line
  • have loads of fun along the way!

If I really want to participate in HCMC, how can I greatly increase my chances of getting a slot?

You'll GREATLY increase your chances of getting a slot if you PROACTIVELY join the listserv and participate ACTIVELY in HCMC events during the spring, summer, and early fall. That means regularly posting runs to the listserv, going on runs that others post, and helping out with the (relatively few) organized HCMC events that happen each year (e.g., Freshman Orientation Week runs), etc.

Are you now accepting online applications for the next Boston Marathon?

You can complete HCMC's online interest form at any time. We draw our applicant pool from the database of Harvard affiliates who have completed the online interest form, so you should read the rest of this page and then complete that online interest form if you'd like to run the next Boston Marathon with HCMC!

When is the application deadline?

It's rolling. Slots are offered to applicants as soon as we receive them, typically by early October, and we occasionally get additional slots as late as January. So COMPLETE THE ONLINE INTEREST FORM NOW if you seriously want a slot for this year's Boston Marathon!

How many Boston Marathon slots will Harvard College Marathon Challenge have this year?

For the 2017 Boston Marathon, we received 5 slots to benefit the Phillips Brooks House Association Summer Urban Program (PBHA SUP). Many Harvard students volunteer with PBHA SUP. It's a great program that does wonderful things for underserved youth in the Greater Boston area! As always, active participants on the HCMC listserv will receive priority for HCMC's Boston Marathon slots. To become active, join the listserv, start going on posted runs, and post your own runs! And remember, you should totally do stuff with HCMC even if you don't have an official HCMC slot!

Who is eligible for an official HCMC slot?

You, if you:

  • are at least 18 years old
  • have a valid credit card (yours or a parent's/guardian's) that expires no sooner than 4/30/18
  • belong to any of the following 3 categories:
    • you are a current Harvard undergraduate who, from September 2017 through April 2018, will be enrolled in good standing throughout this period and is not studying abroad or on a leave of absence at any time during this period;
    • you are a current Harvard College proctor, resident tutor, resident dean, or housemaster who is eager to train/run freqeuently with our student participants; or
    • you are a Harvard College staff member, administrator, or faculty member who works closely with Harvard College undergraduates and is eager to train/run frequently with them.

Regardless of your eligibility, we warmly welcome Harvard affiliates of ALL pace and distance abilities to join our running community by subscribing to the HCMC listserv!

Can I participate if I'm blind or mobility-impaired?

In most cases, yes, once you've been cleared by the Boston Athletic Association. If you fall into this category, please e-mail marathon@harvard.edu immediately, before the application process closes. We'd very much like to help you get a slot.

Can I participate if I play a varsity sport?

Definitely check first with your coach and then with your athletic trainer. At least one of those two should say "no."

Do I need to "time-qualify" (run really fast) in order to participate?

No! As an invitational entrant who is running for charity, you will not need to time-qualify in advance. Those familiar with the Boston Marathon know that this is a major bonus.

What if I've never run long distances before, or if I'm not very fast?

That'd make you a typical participant, since this is an amateur event! After training up to it, most of our runners run the Marathon at a pace between 7.5-11 minutes/mile. But some run faster and some run slower. Preparing for a marathon is like writing a thesis, but with your body and your mind as joint beneficiaries of your efforts. You'll have, and you'll need, months to train physically and mentally for the Big Event. The good news is that you can take up to six (6) hours to complete the 26.2-mile course! That's the official maximum time limit, which equates to about a 13.5-minute mile. Remember, this isn't a race: it's a steady, measured, disciplined event that you'll work towards over time. Plus, running the Boston Marathon is very different from running on your own: there are huge crowds lining the entire Marathon route — spectators ranging from little kids to nursing home residents — and they'll all be cheering for you and supporting you no matter how fast or slow your're going. If you're on the fence about whether you want to run a marathon, then click here to see what previous HCMC participants had to say about their experiences.

What training program should I follow, and how long will training take?

Training programs abound for runners of all ability, experience, and distance levels. There are training programs for totally inexperienced runners; there are training programs for recreational runners; there are training programs for competitive short-distance and cross-country runners who want to try their first marathon; and there are training programs for veteran marathoners seeking to improve their performance. You should find a training program that feels comfortable for you. Here are some well-known training programs that span distances from 5K to a full marathon:

If you're new to running, then you should start training for Boston before Thanksgiving. If you're already a recreational runner, then plan on training for at least 4 months (16 weeks).

What if my main interest is competitive marathon running and hopefully even time-qualifying for a future marathon?

Unless you're a veteran HCMC participant, HCMC probably wouldn't be a good fit for you. HCMC is largely about building a sustainable recreational running community in which competitive marathon running is actively discouraged for first-time HCMC participants. If you join HCMC, you'll be expected to do some training runs with other participants who probably have "lesser" time and pace goals. But even if you want a more competitive environment, you should still consider joining our listserv and posting your training runs anyway, because we always have people on the listserv who run quite fast and whose company you might really enjoy!

I heard a rumor that if I participate officially in HCMC, I'll have to post at least two runs per week to the HCMC listserv. Is that true? And what's it all about?

Yes indeed! Every HCMC participant needs to post at least two ORIGINAL (not "I'm coming too!" on someone else's run) runs per week to the listserv. This requirement ensures that HCMC actively offers community running opportunities throughout the academic year, and as an official HCMC participant, you are an ambassador in this community running promotion effort. Hopefully you'll find posting runs to be FUN and not at all burdensome, because YOU choose the pace, distance, route, time of day, starting/ending place, etc. In fact, you're encouraged to just post whatever run you'd normally be doing alone, if you want. You can also invite others to go to the weekly Fresh Pond "race," the weekly Burren Run, Harvard on The Move runs, Harvard College Running Club practice runs, etc. Those all "count," as long as you post two per week. And as an added incentive, each participant will have a "Posting Deposit," described next...

How much is it gonna cost me, personally, up front and thereafter?

NOTE: The following information (specifically the dollar amounts) will likely change before November, so check back regularly in September/October. Think of this as a four-part process:

  • Immediately upon accepting the HCMC Boston Marathon spot, you must pay $150 to HCMC (check or cash but not credit card), BUT $100 of that $150 is fully refundable. HCMC keeps $50 (non-refundable in all cases) to cover costs. The remaining $100 is a "Posting Deposit," i.e., a monetary incentive to encourage you to post 1-2 runs per week to the HCMC listserv without prompting during every week in which classes are in session from the time you accept your Boston Marathon spot through Marathon Day. If you do that, then you'll receive your $100 deposit back shortly after Marathon Day. If you get injured, then we'll make alternate posting arrangements on a case-by-case basis (e.g., posting cross-training opportunities or social opportunities, such as inviting other runners to lunch/dinner with you in your d-hall). If you forfeit your HCMC slot before the Marathon due to injury, then your Posting Deposit will be refunded in full, as long as you fulfilled posting requirement up to that point.
  • Sometime in January, you'll pay $355 directly to the Boston Athletic Association (BAA) to secure your Boston Marathon spot. It's the BAA's registration fee. You can pay the BAA's registration fee online using a credit card.
  • Shortly after 1pm Wednesday, January 3rd, 2018, HCMC will charge your credit card the difference between $1,000 (your interim fundraising requirement) and the amount you raised IF you raised less than the $1,000 interim fundraising requirement by that date. If you met or exceeded the $1,000 interim fundraising requirement on or before that deadline, then your card will not be charged.
  • Shortly after 5pm Wednesday, April 18th, 2018, HCMC will charge your credit card the difference between $2,620 (your minimum fundraising requirement) and the amount you raised IF you raised less than the $2,620 minimum fundraising requirement by that date. If you met or exceeded the $2,620 minimum fundraising requirement on or before that deadline, then your card will not be charged.

How much money will I need to raise, and by when must I raise it?

Assume you must raise (or self-pay) $2620 for PBHA by 5pm Wednesday, April 18th, 2018, with $1000 of that amount due by 1pm Wednesday, January 3rd, 2018. Rest assured that you'll receive written (e-mail) clarification about this important monetary detail BEFORE you commit to anything, so you can apply without fear! Note that donations are nonrefundable in all cases, without exeception, as soon as they are made.

What if I don't meet the required minimum fundraising amount, including interim amounts, by the various deadlines?

When you register, you'll be asked to provide a credit card that expires after April of next year. If you don't raise the required minimum fundraising amount by any of the various fundraising deadlines, then this credit card will be charged the difference between what you raised and the required minimum fundraising amount that was due by that deadline. This is done in fairness to our charities. If your credit card cannot be charged the full amount you owe for any reason (insufficient credit limit, account closed, etc.), then assume HCMC will report the uncollected debt to credit agencies and assume your credit rating will be negatively affected.

Fundraising sounds like a real hassle!

You may have to work hard to meet your fundraising benchmarks. But fear not, because we'll link you with an online service you'll use to set up your own personalized web page and collect credit card pledges. Runners love it because it's simple and allows them to track their online fundraising progress. Donors love it because they can read your page, see your picture, and leave little messages for you on your page (like a Facebook wall). This service even sends automatic, customized, thank-you e-mails to each donor right after they've pledged. All you'll need to do is give your potential donors the web address for your page. It's an exceptionally user-friendly process for everyone! Details on that will come later, after slots are distributed.

Where does the donated money go?

The funds you raise will benefit the Phillips Brooks House Association (PBHA).

Can any of those up-front payments (registration fee to HCMC or to the BAA, etc.) count as part of my minimum fundraising requirement?

Unfortunately not.

Let's say I pay the Registration Fee and later raise $1,000,000 in donations. Can you THEN refund my Registration Fee?

Unfortunately not! But in THAT particular case, if you raise $1,000,000 ... well, maybe ....

Is the Registration Fee ever refundable? And are any of my donors' donations ever refundable?

No. The Registration Fee and all donations made are wholly nonrefundable in all cases (e.g., even if you get injured the day after you register). We do this in fairness to our charities and to our other participants, and also because providing refunds would be crazy-making (this is an all-volunteer effort).

How does the selection process work?

Traditionally, demand for slots has vastly exceeded supply. We try to ensure diverse participation across Houses and the Yard. We also want both inexperienced and somewhat experienced runners; both first-time and veteran HCMC participants; and some non-undergraduates (resident deans/tutors/proctors, etc.) in addition to the undergrads that will constitute the large majority of participants. Individuals who demonstrate their interest by participating in runs posted to our listserv, and by posting their own runs, will receive priority. Priority also goes to those who will be on campus next year, as new participants rely heavily on the wisdom of our veteran participants (not to mention the fact that a healthy number of veteran participants are necessary to maintain a sustainable Harvard College running community).

What if I really want to participate in HCMC? Is there any way to increase my chances of getting a slot?

Yes! It's quite simple, actually! Participate actively in HCMC events, by going on runs posted to the listserv and by posting your own runs to the listserv!

If I'm going to run the Marathon as an unregistered "bandit" runner anyway, can I increase my chances of getting an official HCMC slot by raising funds "unofficially," to demonstrate my commitment and dedication? And can those funds count towards my fundraising minimum if I do subsequently get an official HCMC slot?

No and no, unfortunately. As an unregistered or "bandit" runner, whatever fundraising efforts you undertake on behalf of any charity can never count towards your HCMC fundraising minimum. :(

When will you offer slots to applicants?

We offer slots on a rolling basis, as soon as we receive them.

How will you offer slots?

Usually by e-mail, occasionally by phone.

Will you notify those who do not receive slots?

Probably not, because (a) the large number of applicants makes this logistically untenable, and (b) you may still be offered a slot later.

If I'm offered a slot, must I accept it?

NO, you are free to decline the slot, so there's no downside whatsoever to applying!

If I'm offered a slot, can I give it away or sell it to someone else?


What happens when I say, "YES, I want the slot!"?

You'll have a very brief window in which you must accept the slot by paying the Registration Fee and signing the participation agreement. Then the fun begins! HCMC is a community effort, so we'll have a kickoff meeting followed by group runs and perhaps other events. We'll also give you suggested training programs and tips, as well as fundraising guidance if you need it.

What if I don't get a slot but I still really want to participate in HCMC?

We'll use a wait list when slots open up due to injury, illness, failure to meet fundraising minimums, or if we get more slots later. Wait list slots are not distributed on a first-come, first-served basis. Rather, we use the wait list to reward folks who often post runs to our listserv and go on runs that others post. Your chances of receiving a wait list slot are much higher if you are an active listserv participant who runs regularly with us and posts runs. Keep checking this page in the fall, after the application process closes, for more information about how we'll handle distribution of slots after the first-round distribution has ended.

If I'm already running the Boston Marathon in an official, time-qualified slot, can I still volunteer to raise funds through Harvard College Marathon Challenge?

YES, PLEASE! If you've time-qualified to run the Boston Marathon and have already registered to run it, then we'd love your help raising funds for our charities, and your volunteerism will serve as a tremendous inspiration to other HCMC participants! Several folks have done this in past years. Please e-mail marathon@harvard.edu and we'll help you make these arrangements. Basically, you'll register online as an HCMC participant just like everyone else, except the Registration Fee and minimum fundraising requirements will of course be waived for you.

What if I have questions that are not answered above?

E-mail marathon@harvard.edu with your questions. We'd be happy to answer them! Apologies in advance if we don't reply immediately.

I've read all this, I'm psyched to train, I can deal with the fundraising, and I'm ready to apply for a slot should one arise!

You rock. All you need to do now is to complete HCMC's online interest form. Be sure to indicate past participation, if any, in HCMC activities/events. Please submit only one form per person, i.e., click "submit" only once. Click here to complete HCMC's online interest form!