BOSTON —The Boston Athletic Association (B.A.A.) announced it is implementing changes and a new framework for the Boston Marathon’s Athletes with Disabilities (AWD) Divisions and Programs. The changes will provide a greater range of opportunities for athletes with disabilities to participate and compete, and will further align AWD policies with existing Boston Marathon policies and the Paralympic Movement. The changes include John Hancock increasing the Push Rim Wheelchair Division prize purse to $125,000 to recognize top performers.
“The B.A.A. seeks to be inclusive of the interests of athletes with disabilities,” said Tom Grilk, Chief Executive Officer, B.A.A. “Our commitment to well organized growth in conformance with international standards has been and remains strong. We recognize the importance of providing a range of opportunities for athletes with disabilities to participate, aspire, achieve, and compete. In collaboration with our peer races, our goal is to establish a best practice approach on how athletes with disabilities are included—and recognized—in elite athletic events.”
With these changes, the Boston Marathon will be positioned among the world leaders in the execution and recognition of competition and athletic achievement of athletes with disabilities.
“Aligning our AWD Divisions of the Boston Marathon with policies and practices defined by World Para Athletics, the international governing body of para athletics, will create a fair playing field for all levels of competition,” said Marla Runyan, B.A.A. Athletes with Disabilities Manager and a two-time U.S. Olympian and Paralympian. “In Boston, we are uniquely positioned to elevate the athletic achievements of the world’s best athletes, informing an international audience that disability includes athletic excellence.”
In the new structure, AWD Divisions are defined as competitive divisions that follow World Para Athletics (WPA) Rules and Regulations of competition, have research-based qualifying standards within each division, and leverage the WPA classification code which groups athletes by similar functional abilities. Additionally, AWD Programs will continue to provide unique opportunities for athletes with disabilities to take part in and experience the Boston Marathon.
“It is great to see the B.A.A. creating opportunities for our elite athletes to compete within a framework that is consistent with international standards,” said Julie Dussliere, Vice President of U.S. Paralympics. “The Boston Marathon has always been a premier race to showcase our athletes, and we applaud the B.A.A. for embracing inclusion and elevating the profile of para track and field in the U.S.”
“This is a significant step that will elevate the profile of Para-athletes in the United States, and these changes will bring greater awareness, recognition, and competitive opportunities for Para-athletes from around the world,” said Ryan Montgomery, Summer Sports Director at the International Paralympic Committee. “This is an exciting development for Para athletics and the IPC is pleased to see the B.A.A. leading this initiative."
Notable changes to AWD Divisions and Programs of the 2019 Boston Marathon include:
- Aligning AWD registration dates and procedures with open registration of the Boston Marathon (September 2018).
- Increasing the total prize purse for the Push Rim Wheelchair Division from $84,500 to $125,000.
- The new prize purse includes $1,500 for the men’s and women’s winners of the T51/T52 category of the Push Rim Wheelchair Division, positioning the Boston Marathon as the only non-IPC competition to offer prize money for athletes in this classification.
- John Hancock, the principal sponsor of the Boston Marathon since 1986, provides all prize money awarded.
- Establishing high-performance time standards within the Visually Impaired Division, making the Boston Marathon the only major marathon to offer a framework of this kind for elite blind and visually impaired athletes.
- Leveraging World Para Athletics Rules and Regulations for competition and the WPA classification code within AWD Divisions.
- Extending race morning transportation and staging in Hopkinton—currently provided to Wheelchair, Handcycle, and Duo Team participants—to athletes in the Visually Impaired Division and Mobility Impaired Program.
Furthermore, the new framework will allow for the incorporation of additional competitive divisions for para athletes in future Boston Marathons with consideration for awards and prize money. Additional details regarding these changes and improvements, including qualifying standards and eligibility requirements, can be found on the B.A.A. website.